On April 12, 2018, a team of WHU students won the KPMG International Case Competition (KICC) against tough competition from teams representing Switzerland and Vietnam.
With the final round held in Kuala Lumpur, students Felix Harms (Master in Entrepreneurship Class of 2019), Lukas Pauly (Master in Entrepreneurship Class of 2019), Marie Walter (Master in Management Class of 2019), and Anna-Maria Gerk (Master in Management Class of 2019) travelled to Malaysia for a week of final business case challenges.
Applying for the competition back in fall, this was WHU’s first time participating in KICC. “WHU was incredibly supportive of us embarking on the competition,” explained Felix. “We had to miss a few classes as a result of the schedule, but we were still encouraged to continue.” The team faced the first round in the regional finals against five other German teams last December in Frankfurt. As the regional winners, they headed to Berlin in February for the national final between eight German business schools. Winning in Berlin secured their place in the competition final in Kuala Lumpur in April, in which 22 countries were represented in total.
"At WHU we do a lot of case-based learning, and that really prepared us for the competition challenges."
During each round, teams worked on cases given to them on arrival – with no mobile phones or internet, each team had three hours to prepare and in the final hour presented to the panel of judges made up of partners from KPMG. In Frankfurt, the case focused on the Portuguese port market and the WHU team demonstrated the benefit of “WHU-thinking” with a three-step strategy that impressed the judges.
"At WHU we do a lot of case-based learning, and that really prepared us for the competition challenges,” Felix Harms explained. “Our strategy in Frankfurt came from WHU thinking, with a long-term vision and a desire to get the best result possible."
In Berlin, the case also focused on the Portuguese market and teams developed a funding idea for a FinTech that would also serve a social purpose. The two-step process pitched by the winning team again garnered a strong response from the judges, who were impressed with their idea to assist young people in Portugal build up a pension.
In Kuala Lumpur, the week-long final comprised different challenges each day. To kick things off, the international challenge reorganized teams, giving participants the opportunity to work with students from around the world. “I worked with students from Norway, India, and Malaysia, which was a lot of fun - we were business focused and likeminded. The most important thing was that we worked together in a team, as that’s how the good ideas come,” enthused Felix.
In the final round of competition, the three finalist teams were tasked with developing a communications strategy for a Southeast Asian ride-sharing company that would create the greatest long-term value and sustainability for the business. "They demonstrated incredible insight with their innovative solution to a very complex business case,” said Iain McLaughlin, Head of Global Resourcing at KPMG International, referring to the 2018 Champions.
"We are so excited and proud to be the 2018 KICC Champions!"
"KICC has been amazing and we are so excited and proud to be the 2018 Champions,” said Anna-Maria Gerk. “The competition is hard work, but we’ve learned so much and had a lot fun with our new friends from the other country teams.”
“A big thank you from all of us to KPMG for the experience and to WHU for the support and preparation that enabled such an achievement possible!” added Felix.