In March of last semester, two of my fellow M&T women, Elise and Cathryn, stumbled upon a blurb for a case competition from Penn’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). It was a case competition sponsored by Capital One, open exclusively to female engineers at universities around the country. We instantly decided to do the competition, and we knew that using some of the business acumen from our Wharton side wouldn’t hurt!
The case questions centered on Capital One’s use of social media to drive revenue from their products, a topic relevant to us as young adults and active social media users. Our initial proposal was limited to only eight PowerPoint slides, and it was due during spring break. We scraped our research together via Skype from different parts of the country, and sent it in.
About two weeks later, we received an email that we had been selected as one of four finalists, and were invited to present at Capital One’s headquarters in McLean, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. We were thrilled to be able to represent Penn and M&T, and of course for the opportunity to be able to present at the final round.
We spent the next few weeks fitting in preparation for the final presentations into our busy schedules among midterms, sports games and other events. We left on a Thursday afternoon for McLean, and were accommodated at the Hilton. We were invited to a networking dinner with the other finalists, Capital One recruiters, and alumni from our schools who were now working at Capital One. Apart from the delicious dinner, it was an enjoyable and valuable experience to get to know the other participants as well as connect with the alumni who were nostalgic about their times at Penn.
The next morning, we were driven to Capital One headquarters. While munching on breakfast, we did some last-minute run-throughs of our presentation. We were nervous, but also confident in our research and work that we had put into the presentation. When it was our turn to speak, we each spoke in turns; our proposed strategy outlined using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Klout to drive revenue. After our presentations, we were asked questions by the judges, who were senior managers at Capital One. We were amazed to know that many elements of our proposed strategy were already being used as part of Capital One’s social media strategy.
While the judges deliberated, we ate lunch with analysts who had come to watch our presentation. We eagerly awaited the results, and when the judges came back, we were delighted when they announced that we were the winners! We each received $1000 in prize money, as well as many congratulations from various analysts and recruiters.
Apart from the prizes, we were thankful for the opportunity to learn about such a big company and gain the experience of solving a real-life business problem. We can’t wait to participate in other case competitions together!
Vidushi is a current M&T junior in the Class of 2015. She studies Biomedical Science within Penn Engineering and Marketing, Management, and Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Wharton School. Outside of academics, Vidushi is involved with the M&T Club Board, Club Tennis, and MUSE Consulting.