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A group of Penn students won the 2016 Deloitte Consulting Undergraduate Case Study Competition and attribute their victory to realistic responsibilities, quantification and teamwork | Courtesy of the Deloitte National Undergraduate Case Competition

In just seven hours, a team of Penn undergraduates impressed senior Deloitte management to capture the top prize in a consulting competition.

Wharton sophomores Richie Lou, Rui Jing Jiang and Jennifer Li placed first in the 2016 Deloitte Consulting Undergraduate Case Study Competition earlier this month, earning $1,000 each. Lou, Jiang and Li defeated 16 other universities in regional competitions held in February. 

After winning the regional competition, the team was flown to Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas, where it competed from April 7-9. The team of three beat out all the other teams in the competition, most of which were comprised of four students each.

The case competition challenged teams to develop a practical solution for a company attempting to attract millennials to their business. The recommended overarching solutions had to adhere to Deloitte’s three segment consulting method: strategy, human capital and technology. Specific details of the case cannot be disclosed, according to the Penn students who competed.

Each of the competing teams was presented with the case at 5 p.m. on the day of their arrival. They had from 5 p.m. to midnight to develop their recommendations and submit a PowerPoint presentation with their recommendation, which would be delivered the following morning.

Two rounds of judging followed. Four of the 16 teams were chosen to compete in the final round by senior managing directors and partners.

Members of the Penn team attributed their success to the simplicity and tangibility of their ideas and to the skills they’ve honed through their Wharton education. 

“There are definitely teams who probably had better presentation skills than we did," Lou said. "We strongly believe that the content we presented was of the highest quality."

Other teams in the competition had pitched far more ambitious and sophisticated ideas, Li and Lou said. New York University, for example, had developed a fully-coded app to help the company attract millennials.

But Lou emphasized that while NYU's recommendation was impressive, it exceeded the responsibilities of the consultant and the company’s resources. 

“In real life, what a consultant does and what these case competitions are looking for is that you understand the basic strategy of it … You’re not actually doing [the company’s] job for them; you’re just telling them where to go. A lot of the teams didn’t see through that,” Lou said.

What also set the team apart from its competition was its ability to quantify the expected results of its recommendations. 

“We did a financial analysis. At the end of the day, we were able to show them if you implement this recommendation, then this will be [the] increase in your bottom line,” Jiang said.

Lou noted that many of the other teams were unable to quantify their results, which made him aware of the quality of the education that he has received at the Wharton School.

Deloitte also assigned the team a coach — 2014 College and Wharton graduate Peixin Mo, a Deloitte consultant and member of Sigma Psi Zeta, a multicultural Asian-interest sorority to which Li and Jiang also belong. Mo mentored the team throughout the regional and national competitions and was a national contestant in the competition while she was an undergraduate at Wharton.

But the biggest boon to the team might have been the friendship amongst its members long before the competition. Jiang, Lou and Li shared a finance class this semester, during which they were part of the same team.

“We’ve learned to think together, write [together and to] present together, ” Jiang said.

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