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Here’s how to wow judges and win an internationally renowned business competition

The winners (from left): Gary Chui, Patricia Wong, Mimi Mo, Athena Au

The winners (from left): Gary Chui, Patricia Wong, Mimi Mo, Athena Au

What: The KPMG International Case Competition

Where: Hong Kong. Incidentally, it’s the first time that the global event has been held in Asia.

When: Late April

Who: Champions in their own right. A hundred students first won competitions in their respective countries before competing globally. The 24 teams were given realistic business case studies, which they then analysed in depth and presented to 19 senior KPMG partners. Ultimately, the team from the University of Hong Kong emerged as winners.

It’s not the movies, you don’t join a competition to land a job

Gary Chui, one of the winners and a final-year law and accounting undergraduate, says: “I’ve never thought of landing a job through the competition. There were two main factors why I joined. Firstly, there were a lot of professional judges so it was a chance for me to learn from their feedback; I also wanted to build up my presentation and proposal skills. And lastly, I felt this would help differentiate my resume from other job applicants.”

How to win?

Show some group love: Chui, who aspires to break into the consulting and advisory business someday, says working as a team was a crucial element. “We’ve worked together previously on different projects in schools so we are very familiar with each other; we know our strengths and weaknesses, so we distributed the work accordingly.”

Slog it out: The winners went through four intense rounds of presentations in three days. They were also given little time to analyse and discuss each case.

Besides, KPMG looks out for graduates who are analytical and enthusiastic, says one of the judges, Roy Leung, partner, KPMG China. “It’s a challenging work environment, so we want graduate hires who can think positively and take up opportunities to develop themselves further.”

Roll with the punches: The team saw some unexpected issues crop up. During the first round of the competition for instance, their computer died a sudden death. Chui says: “We calmed ourselves down and continued to present to the judges from memory, without using the PowerPoint slides.”

Gotta live and learn: Leung was impressed with the team’s enthusiastic attitude. “One of the judges’ objectives is to provide timely feedback during the competition. We also observe if participants have improved from the feedback given – that’s something KPMG values and the winners did a really good job on that.”

Go deep: Leung says the Hong Kong team’s ability to provide strong, detailed analysis with both qualitative and quantitative considerations made them the shoo-in winners. “At the end of the day, that made our job as judges a lot easier.”

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