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Northwestern Students Win Consulting Competition

All-junior team takes first place in Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition

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March 7, 2013 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University team won first place in the Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition March 1 in Texas.

The team, made up of four juniors, was up against teams from Cornell University, Georgia Tech, Indiana University, New York University, Penn State, University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas-Austin and University of Virginia.

The competition began at colleges all over the United States earlier this year, with more than 500 teams competing. Twenty-five teams from Northwestern applied and five were chosen to present their case analyses in early February on campus to Deloitte Consulting judges. The winning Northwestern team then traveled to Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, to compete in the national competition.

Mark Witte, senior lecturer in economics, had the opportunity to watch the team when they presented at Northwestern and was astonished by the performance of this group of first-time case competitors.

“They were so professional in how they worked through their thinking, and so smooth in the way they worked together as a team to answer questions,” Witte said. “The Deloitte people there were as impressed as I was at how deeply these students were able to dig into the fundamentals of the case and really identify the key issues and respond to them with pragmatic solutions.”

Once in Texas, the team of Eileen Flaherty (School of Communication, 2014); Amrit Kanesa-Thasan (WCAS, 2014); Kevin Yao (WCAS, 2014); and Victoria Zuzelo (WCAS, 2014) had to compete against teams from 11 other universities.

The teams were presented with a case late afternoon and had to submit their analysis by midnight. The following day they had to present their case and take questions from a panel of senior Deloitte consultants.

In the first round, each team had 20 minutes for their presentation and then faced questions for five minutes.

Having spent hours preparing a carefully developed 20-minute presentation, the team was challenged for the final round by having just 90 minutes to redraft their entire presentation, cut it down to a maximum of 10 minutes, while retaining all of the crucial points. They then faced a more intensive 10-minute period of questioning by the panel of judges.

In the end, the Northwestern team prevailed and won the national championship, with each team member receiving a $1,000 scholarship.

Northwestern political science instructor Mark Iris, who advised the team along with NU alumnus Todd Siegal, (WCAS, 2012) who now works for Deloitte, said it was a pleasure to see Northwestern come in first.

“The students worked on this with intense energy. I thought it noteworthy that most of the other teams were from undergraduate business schools, such as Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania,” Iris said. “The absence of an undergrad business school certainly did not hurt these NU students’ ability to sweep honors in a business competition.”