Tongji Students Win, and Credit CTX:BRACE for Help Working Together

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Catherine Chen, Global MBA 2015, Leading CTX: BRACE through her Case Competition Methodology

I am sitting in class during our Management Strategy Course final presentation day, watching each group present a company, and a highly developed strategy for moving into a new market. Of course, some more developed than others, but nonetheless recommendations for corporate entities to be proud of.

A year ago this would have seemed foreign to me. A group of twenty and thirty-somethings presenting world-class professional recommendations on PPTs, having compiled them after moving through data figures, government policies, analysis of leadership, product innovation journals…

And then it hits me, this is impressive. But I am starting to take it for granted how good these are. Presentation after presentation, week after week. Even Ali Akil’s questions are sometimes equally as impressive as the presentations themselves. (More on Ali’s questions in a future article.)

Then later that night as I sit down to treat myself for a great presentation of my own, eating MAI LAI, a soup dish comprised of vegetables, potato, noodles and hot soup-broth to keep cold in the Shanghai approaching winter, I get a message from one of my colleagues, Catherine Chen. She says that her case consulting competition group has moved into the final round of a competition sponsored by Volvo that spanned all of mainland China. I thought to myself,

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 “It is so impressive how I am surrounded with people winning Case Competitions week in and week out. They would be the fourth or fifth team to advance to a round two just this month.”

Their project included a presentation of new ways for Volvo China to sell its products in Eastern markets, something it has been struggling to do over the last several decades. Typical western company, trying their business model in China without tailoring it to the needs of the Chinese. Clever of them to employ Chinese MBAs for this type of research-

But still, while I was extremely excited for my friend and her team including Martin, Linda and Vivienne (All Global MBA students, might I add), I had a feeling that this is becoming commonplace around the Global MBA building and my network of friends: constantly our groups placing in 3rd, 2nd or 1st place in Case Consulting Competitions and winning quite large sums of money.”

And the next piece came as a positive shock that broke up the monotony of studying and group projects as we trudged into the dauntingly demanding workload of finals week: the members of the group messaged me to say “Thank you Michael for the help of CTX:BRACE.”

Humbled.

Several weeks ago the members of Catherine’s team presented to our group, and got suggestion from CTX:BRACE for 45 minutes after they had the floor to get our help. I had invited them to use our club to get actual suggestions from our members. And that they did. They put us to work that afternoon.

I remember Martin scribbling down voraciously as Pramod Kamath, Gaurav Kumar, Arniv Gupta, Ali Akil, and of course Rishabh Jain made specific and pointed recommendations for reconsidering the highly concentrated number of computer science and design Ph.Ds in Beijing, China – a number that rivaled Silicon Valley.
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Pramod Kamath, seeking clarity and making suggestions related to Beijing’s concentration of Volvo’s possible future

Among other things recommended, I remember thinking, “How did the Chinese students not think of taking pride in their Beijing concentration of engineers, designers and computer scientists? How did they miss this asset? was it something cultural? How could they not include this in their report?”

But it did not matter why; it was the fact that we had Chinese from all over the country, Americans, a Colombian, a Nigerian and ten members of the club from India working in tandem to help our Chinese classmates succeed.

The stress was intense. CTX BRACE did not take it lightly that their cohort members had taken the time to fill a slot in our weekly sessions. Even after an exciting meeting with Deloitte Consultant Adam Foley, the group provided great support and harsh critique of their argument.

But I am clear in my mind that it was the diverse range of competencies in the room that afternoon that made that meeting so successful.

We should be proud of both CTX BRACE and for the dedicated members that have been making these meetings happen for the past two months. What started as a journal and business review club has turned into an outlet for Real LIfe Consulting matters, having ten of our members place in the top three in International competitions based out of India and China, and many more that have walked the road of participating.

I admit, I felt proud when Catherine messaged me that afternoon. I remembered the times when there was doubt about starting the CTX BRACE club. Many were not sure of its direction, or if it would even be feasible while we were abroad. Where would it go? What would it do, realistically?

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But I knew, if we put good people in the same room and created a disciplined approach to furthering our learning, we would create meaning in the work. If we could take a little criticism in order to mold the clay into something very powerful, we were destined to succeed.

While I personally am not taking credit for their advancement in the competition, I do take pride in knowing that something we did together has improved their level for success.

Congrats guys, we all know you deserve it.

 J. M. Tasse