SIPA Case Competition

The following entry was composed by Sandhya Chari, a second year MPA student concentrating in Economic and Political Development.


This year, I had the chance to participate in something unique at SIPA – the Public Policy Case Competition. This event was modeled after traditional business case competitions, wherein student teams are given a case in the morning, and required to present a strategic analysis of it in the afternoon.  There were two cases – one for public sector and one for international development. I was on a team for international development.

SIPA is the first school to present a competition like this one. It gives students a chance to work in a fast paced environment on real domestic and international policy issues. It also allows us to show our unique skill set, at the intersection of strategic consulting mentality, and policy knowledge. In addition, it gives judges from the world of development consulting a chance to network with each other, as well as meet students hoping to eventually work in their field.

In order to participate, we had to submit applications in the fall. The applications asked us about our consulting experience, and asked us to analyze a hypothetical case. After the selection process, we were assigned to teams. Teams were made up of three people with complementary professional experiences. This ensured that on the day of the competition, we would each be able to contribute a unique skill set.

On the day of the competition, we arrived at 8am to receive our cases. After this, we spent 5 hours pouring over the case and coming up with strategic solutions. By 1pm, we were required to submit a power point presentation of our analysis. Needless to say, this was an intense 5 hours. Each minute was utilized in analysis and discussion. After agreeing on a particular approach, we went to building the power point. At 1:15 the presentations started in random order. Each team got up and spent 15 minutes presenting, and 10 minutes answering questions.

Although our team didn’t win, I know that we all came out of the competition feeling like we had gained a lot. Moreover, it confirms why SIPA is so unique. With our diverse experiences, and skill sets, we are able to come together to tackle a common objective. It was also a great way to see the way our academic learning here will translate into real world projects in the future.

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