Hari Aran Krishnan was the Co-President at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Business Solutions Case Club. A third-year Accounting student at NTU, he had set his sight on becoming an Investment Banker even before his University journey began. Knowing that a thorough understanding of financial statements would be advantageous in the field, Hari chose to pursue an accounting degree. Currently, Hari is interning as an investment banking spring analyst, under the project finance group at the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG).
Why the Business Solutions Case Club?
Being naturally competitive, I had channelled my competitive spirit into sports like Archery back in my junior college days. As I was entering University, I wanted to join a club that would not only allow me to express my competitive nature but also prepare me for my professional career. Having gained perspective from my seniors during freshman camps, it dawned upon me that Business Solutions was the club that would give me the opportunities I seek.
Joining the Business Solutions Case Club | The Application Process
What is the application process to the Business Solutions Case Club like?
Applicants are first required to submit their resumes for the club to vet through. Next, applicants are grouped with two or three other applicants for a brief, face-to-face, case interview. Once an applicant clears the case-study round, they go through a ‘round of fit’ test before officially joining the Business Solutions Case Club.
Could you elaborate on what the applicants can expect from the application rounds?
In the case-study round, applicants are given 30 minutes to discuss and present their solutions on a business case which could be as simple as “how could brand X expand their presence in market Y given their success in their hometown?”
The solutions could be derived after considering the contextual information within the case study and making a few assumptions. Essentially, the club is looking out for a clear and logical thought process behind applicants’ recommended solutions. How one contributes to the group discussion is also observed and evaluated, as the nature of the club requires our members to work well in teams. I would advise applicants to read up on current affairs and the latest happenings in the business and finance world before entering this round.
In the ‘round of fit’ test, due to the high commitment required of our members, the club would actively seek out individuals who are committed and determined to put in their best effort to enhance their career, regardless of which industry they wish to eventually settle in.
Behind the Scenes
What is a typical week in the life of a member of the Business Solutions Case Club?
Under the training arm of the club, our junior members would go through a 10-week foundational training program. Members are assigned to a four-person group, for the entire duration of the foundational training program. Each week is structured such that a new business case is released on Sunday nights. Groups are then given time to prepare and present their solutions on Saturday mornings to their respective training Directors.
The training covers a wide range of industries such as technology, gaming, infrastructure, construction, etc. This allows our members to gain insights into several industries whilst instilling principles of flexible thinking and reasoning in members. Members are likely to spend approximately 15 to 20 hours every week on the club’s activities. Despite the substantial commitment, training sessions are suspended during the final examination period to give our members an ample amount of time to do their best academically. On the other hand, the events arm of the club is in charge of organising competitions such as the Singapore Business Case Competition (SBCC) and the Asian Business Case Competition (ABCC). Members could look forward to potentially being a part of the organising committee or participating in these events.
How are teams selected for the International Case Competitions?
International case competitions are reserved for members who have passed the foundational training program. Once they have completed their basic training, they are eligible to sign up for International Competitions that our club receives invitations to. Members that indicate their interest in these competitions are then selected for a round of auditions. Unlike the foundational training program, the audition requires members to work individually.
Selected members are then grouped together as a team before they undergo further training. This round of training is often rigorous and specifically tailored to the style and format of the upcoming competition. Some examples of the formats could be 24-hour, 48-hour hackathon-style competitions or even formats where participants are only allowed to use flip boards and markers to present. The training lasts, on average, about five to six weeks, with members often recounting that its difficulty level significantly surpassed that of the foundational training.
What competitions did you participate in and what did you learn from them?
Having participated in a few competitions like the NBS Investment Banking Club M&A Case Competition 2021 and the Oliver Wyman Case Competition 2019, I realised that there is always room for improvement. I could be a finalist in one competition yet could not even progress beyond the preliminary round in others, because every case has its unique demands and requirements expected from the judging panel. Consistent practice is important to understand the nuances of the different case competitions and to stand a good chance of winning these highly competitive events.
However, while the pursuit of honing your skills for these competitions is crucial, one should not forget the importance of doing so with different people. From my experience, teaming up with different groups of friends for different competitions was rewarding as I learnt to work well in pressurised conditions with a variety of individuals with differing traits.
How would you advise freshmen looking to join an academic CCA in University?
Freshmen who have an idea of the career path they wish to pursue upon graduation could benefit from speaking to seniors that are part of academic CCAs they are interested in. Interacting with these seniors would clear up any misconceptions one has of a club and provides clarity as to whether the club is the right fit for them in the long run.
As for freshmen who are still at a crossroad, an academic CCA would be beneficial to join as the opportunities they avail for networking are invaluable in one’s professional and personal development.
How can members make the most of the opportunities at the Business Solutions Case Club?
We have a saying which is something along the lines of “how much you give to the club, is how much you take out”. To capitalise on the opportunities provided, one has to be prepared to give 100% in all they pursue at the club. The connections made here are strong and tend to last. Hence, even in stressful moments, it is of paramount importance to put the collective interests of the club first - contributing to further the progress of one another.
Last but not least, would you have done anything differently?
With certainty, I would have tried my best to participate in an International Case Competition. The entire experience of flying out to a foreign country alongside your peers to represent your institution and country would have been unforgettable.
Despite the encouragement from seniors, I chose to give the opportunity a pass as I felt unprepared at the time - choosing to focus on local case competitions instead to gain experience. While this decision is one I stand by, witnessing the effect of the pandemic on global travel meant it is now unlikely that I would be presented with another chance to experience an International Case Competition at the undergraduate level.