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I heard about the SHIFT2021 Case Competition through an email that the iSchool’s Career office sent. It was exciting because I had seen a number Management students from my undergrad compete in competitions like this and I always found it really cool. I just knew that you had to bring an innovative viewpoint to a topic being discussed in public discourse. Other than that, I had no idea what to expect.
The interested students had to submit a formal application and await the results. The teams would consist of students from 4 Programs: the Faculty of Information, Rotman School of Business, Munk School of Public Policy and Munk School of Global Affairs. We were assigned into random teams and were given 1 week to come up with a framework and a use case to guide the Provincial Government of Ontario on implementing the Digital ID by the end of 2021.
There were a number of challenges we faced.
- a few of us were in different countries with different time-zones
- We all had differing ideas on what was meant by framework
- We were ping-ponging back and forth between whether to start thinking of a use case first or to plan out a framework to case our use case on
I was not familiar at all with how to structure the slide deck nor how to connect the requirements mentioned in the case document that was given to us. I completed assignments according to specific criteria but always had 2-3 weeks to ensure everything was being covered. we had 4-5 days to get everything together.
To help out all the teams, the organizers held assigned all 9 KPMG staff members to coach individuals teams. They also held two seminars with professionals who gave us more insights into the case details, gave us tips and answered some of our questions. One of the tips mentioned was to present our slides to an external person, if we had the chance. Upon hearing this, I asked my supervisor if he would be willing to hear our presentation and give us some feedback and he agreed.
We decided to divide the work into 2 parts: 2 people tackle the use case, 2 people focus on the framework. I paired up with my teammate, Christian, to form the use case. I had created many use case type scenarios in my role as research assistant and I felt more comfortable doing that. I brainstormed and researched ideas and made rough drafts on my slides on Thursday night and went to bed with the intention that I would work on them and finalize everything by Friday afternoon, in time to meet with my supervisor.
When I woke up on Friday, the slide deck had changed and my use case portion had details that I hadn’t considered previously. I was thrown off and with only 5 hours left before meeting my supervisor, I was rushing to get my portion of the use case done. We managed to have 75% of the slides ready in time for our practice presentation. We were advised to try and mix the use case into the framework so it is easier for people to connect the idea in the framework with a real life example.
Although I was a little irked by the additional details that were inserted by one of my team members, I realized,later on, how much clearer the presentation became. We came in second but the judges were thoroughly impressed by our work. The judges spent an extra 13 minutes discussing the results because all the presentations were of such good quality!
Each team was given feedback on what to improve and our points of improvement was to make sure the slide deck was ‘more client ready’ and to be more focused when answering questions. Although we didn’t win first place, I am happy that I got experience what it is like working in an actual ‘multidisciplinary’ team.
Everyone has different strengths and ways of thinking, some of which may brush against you and what you are used to. But that doesn’t necessarily make their way of thinking wrong. This experience taught me how important rules, regulations and structure is and how critical it is to know what the role of an organization or person will be in a specific setting. Looking forward to working in multidisciplinary teams in the workplace, with more time to complete projects, hopefully 🙂