Case Study Competition

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – Mark Twain

It feels appropriate to open with that quote, as it seemed that I completely abandoned this blog over the past month as if something happened to me. The truth is, something DID happen, but nothing bad. I have just been extremely inundated with an abnormal amount of work. It’s what I call spreading myself too thin, and not something that should happen in the summer when all I wanted to think about was laying next to the pool with a good book and relaxing. Over the past month, I continued working at my internship often beyond the normal hours of the day, started and finished a class at Northwestern in Latin American Politics, and started sailing lessons on Lake Michigan. I have been keeping track of all my activities, so even after the internship ends (which was supposed to be by now, but I got it extended), I will continue to write about many of my experiences this summer. I’m going to dedicate this whole post to the case study competition I was involved in over the past 6 weeks.

An intern tradition at Walgreens is the annual case study competition. Interns from across all the departments at corporate are separated out and assigned to six different teams, each consisting of six to seven participants. The four pharmacy interns were separated, so we all had our own teams. My team members consisted of interns from corporate analytics, purchasing, supply chain logistics, and vendor collaboration. Each team is given one week to come up with a topic or business initiative, and then we had five weeks to do research and put together a 30 minute presentation to present to a panel of judges. While there was a preselected list of topics, my team decided to go with the “Be Creative” route and make our own initiative and created new ways that Walgreens can advance their online pharmacy experience to drive health outcomes and patient adherence.

To add more work to the bucket, I agreed to be team captain and oversee the project from beginning to end and monitor the group’s progress. For six weeks, we had built in time during our work day that we were allowed to meet and contribute towards the project – about four hours a week for the first few weeks and then ten hours during the last week. The team with the best presentation would win a lunch with our CEO in the board room that I posted pictures of last month. Even though we were allotted hours during the day, my team went above and beyond and we really all contributed our own time and effort into making this presentation the best we could – after all, if we made it to the finals we would be presenting to some top executives in the company.

The day of the competition, the six teams were divided into three exhibition matches in the morning where we presented to two judges from areas throughout the company. The three winners would then advance on to the finals to present to a panel of four executives. My team must have practiced our presentation for hours the night before and morning of, so we were completely pumped and ready when we went into our first match. The team we were competing against went before us, and my team thought it was best not to arrive early to watch their presentation. Instead, we showed up exactly when they were ready for us and gave it our all. Although we had timed our presentation, we ended up exceeding the time limit and got cut off right before our last slide, making us nervous if this would affect the outcome at all. The last five minutes of the presentation is dedicated to questions that only the judges could ask. While they hit us hard, my team did an amazing job with answering questions and I was extremely proud of all of them.

After we presented, all six teams were invited to lunch where they would announce the three winners that would progress to the finals. You can only imagine how nervous everyone in the room was. While it was only a competition, I’m a very competitive person and I wanted to advance. After lunch, they began to announce the winners of each exhibition match………………AND WE ADVANCED! My team all breathed a sigh of relief as we then realized we had to do the entire presentation again, but this time in front of more people and higher executives. The three team captains that advanced all drew numbers from a jar to decide who would go first – and I drew the #1 spot. We presented again, and once again I felt as though my group did an amazing job. The questions got a little tougher, because we were presenting a high concept idea that was costly but would ultimately advance the company for the better. Everyone in pharmacy services present in the audience reassured that my team did a great job, so all that was left was to wait and watch the other two teams.

Ultimately, we came in second place, but I am extremely happy with the outcome and my team managed to impress all our supervisors in the room. The winning team may have won the trophies, but winning the respect of our supervisors and work colleagues is much better than a trophy. So what did I learn through this whole process? Well, first, working with a diverse group of interns was definitely interesting. The rest of my group really did not have any understanding of pharmacy, so as team captain I had to overcome several challenges with getting the group on track to make the progress we needed in the short 6 week time span to produce this project. Second, my team may have gone too “big” with respect to the project. We had long term goals in mind and the judges wanted something that could have been implemented on the spot – which I believe is the only reason we did not get those first place trophies. Either way, the entire experience was a roller coaster ride which ultimately brought my group and me closer together and created some close friendships with people I’ll definitely stay in touch with.

Over the next few weeks I’ll continue to burn off some lingering topics that I haven’t written about yet including some friends and family visits, Lollapalooza, working with the CIT (Corporate Innovation Team), sailing, and some other cool work experiences I had.

Recommendations of the Day:
Nonfiction – The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman, Peter Rost
Album – The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
Song – Ambling Alp, Yeasayer
Movie – Inception


One Response to “Case Study Competition”

  1. Philip Ruthkosky Says:

    Hey Justin…
    Keeping busy as usual I see. Nice work ….I enjoyed your post.

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