Making Your Own Structure

Every year I receive emails from readers about the Ivy Case System and how they finetuned it to make it easier for themselves. I love to get them! Some reader-hand-crafted frameworks are quite interesting, others not so much. When Smarth sent me his it caught my eye. It’s very complete, there is a lot of great information in it and more importantly it helped him get hired by BCG. He has generously allowed me to share it with you. In his note below Smarth also points out the importance and advances of participating in a case competition. I couldn’t agree more. – Marc Cosentino

Before I give an overview of my case solving approach, let me share brief about myself. I completed my Bachelor of Engineering & Technology from IIT Delhi and am placed at The Boston Consulting Group. Getting to the bottom of business challenges and exploring ways to turn it around, has always been my area of interest. Following this, I have participated in multiple International & National case challenges and finished with wins in 13 case competitions with cash accolades of US $5k, including being in the global top 5 finalists selected to present case solution for Deloitte Impact Challenge Competition at Harvard University. My last internship at Imperial College Business School London in Education consulting exposed me to the world of consulting and my keen desire to explore & dig deeper into businesses around the globe, swayed me to apply to management consulting firms for the jobs right after my Bachelors. The transition from background in engineering to job in management consulting wasn’t supposed to be smooth. It was both challenging and enriching – right from struggling to prepare a consulting resume, understanding the frameworks and need of customising them for case interviews, to being into the shortlists for all top-tier consulting firms recruiting from our campus and finally cracking The Boston Consulting Group. I strongly believe that this journey becomes fun if we don’t stress ourselves worrying about results, focus on doing our daily goals without considering the timeframe & form of reward.

During the process I practiced 120+ mock cases and using my experiences & takeaways from each case, I developed my own frameworks. I believe that frameworks are the best way to understand the concepts & flow of questions to be asked in order to dig deeper into the case problem, but they should not be rigidly followed rather customised based on the given case. Understanding the flow of information through the framework enables you to tailor your on-the-go case solving approach with flow of information provided by the interviewer. It is strongly advised that your framework is MECE (Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive) and customised to the given case problem. Aim is to segment each level using first principles in a way to explore the trends and isolate the key driver of our business problem. This profitability framework has allowed me to sharpen my case solving abilities and has played a stellar role in securing job at BCG. While following the framework, always make sure to build an interactive conversation with interviewer, asking about relevant available information at each step. Gauging the response, customise the segmentation to boil down to the key problem. Understanding the trends involve benchmarking key client parameters with time and benchmarking with competitors help to categorise business problem as ‘company-specific’ or ‘industry-specific’ problem. Covering both the breadth & depth of the case is important in time constrained environment, so often getting into customer shoes & analysing steps through customer journey can be helpful. If you have any doubts or wish to discuss & understand the framework in greater detail, feel free to reach out to me at smarthveer@gmail.com or at LinkedIn.


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Marc Cosentino

Marc, the world’s foremost authority on case interviewing has twenty seven years of experience with case questions. He has written well over a hundred cases, while coaching, preparing and training more than a hundred and fifty thousand students and alumni. He has written three books involving cases and consulting. Cosentino has given workshops to students at colleges and MBA programs for the last twenty seven years and has held training sessions for career services professionals on how to give cases and how to analyze a student’s performance.