The annual Aalto Crossroads case competition was held on 27 March at the Aalto Design Factory in Otaniemi. The one-day competition was held for a third time and it was open to all of Aalto's bachelor's and master's students.
The day began with a presentation of representatives of the case enterprise concerning the case that needed a solution. The company turned out to be Elisa and the assignment was to design the future e-book and to think about what groups would be appropriate targets for offering the concept and how it should be marketed.
'The future of books is open and e-books and audiobooks are certain to increase their share of the entire book market in the future. Before the competition we hope that students will select different target groups in their case assignments and that this would result in fresh new ideas. And we got what we wanted', says Essi Manner, Business Director of Elisa Kirja.
Three hours of intense work and a well-honed presentation
After their case presentations, the teams worked for three hours, starting with visualising the challenge as a whole. After that they collected and analysed information to support decision-making, developed and evaluated alternative suggestions for solutions, and finally made a recommendation for what their team felt was the best solution. In addition, the teams are thinking about how the solution would be implemented in practice and how the possible risks of the chosen solution could be minimised.
'In the case competition the given challenges are worked on hurriedly and under pressure. We have taken part in previous case competitions and these are also excellent opportunities for developing presentation skills', says one team that had taken the name Aalto Consulting Group for its team. The team included School of Business students Valtteri Viitala, Kimi Päivärinta, Nicky Tuominen, and Casimir Kontio, of whom Päivärinta also studies at the School of Science.
Each of the groups was given 15 minutes for a final case presentation. After this the panel of judges met to evaluate which were the two best teams that would go to the finals. The entire competition was won by a team that included School of Business students Olli-Markus Savolainen, Ellen Järnefelt and Antti Makkonen. The selection of the winners was based both on the solution that was put forward and the way in which it was presented.
Susanna Kervinen of the School of Business, as well as Valtteri Kukkonen and Juuso Heinonen who major in Industrial Engineering and Management at the School of Science say that the case competition teaches time management, group work skills, and a comprehensive grasp for solving the cases. Furthermore, the competitive situation also adds a suitable amount of tension.
'It is a different thing to examine the commission exclusively from the point of view of one person and his or her studies, than from that of three students studying different majors. Broader points of view improve the final result. We learned much from each other.'
Case course prepares students for tough case competition
'The case competition was preceded by a case course in February and March, which was powerfully oriented toward practical work, and which prepared students to solve real life challenges. As the students also said, the course and the competition help boost presentation and communications skills, which help students succeed at work', says University Lecturer Christa Uusi-Rauva, who led the competition.
She selected the eight teams in the course on the basis of their motivation letters, and seven of the teams ultimately were able to take part in the competition. In addition to six teams from Aalto, a team from Tampere University of Applied Sciences was accepted into the competition, and was thus able to learn about case working.