IESE’s Capstone project is a highlight for many first year MBA students. The objective is to bring together all the learnings of the first year, by having students act as consultants and working with real companies to provide solutions to a business problem. It is run as a case competition, where senior executives will evaluate the presentation and quality of the solutions provided. The participating companies this year included Inbound Cycle, BLSSD Fashion, Nedgia Naturgy, Facebook, Isdin, Pangea, Idneo, Ficosa, Roche, Dr. Oetker, Dufry. One of the student teams describe their experience and winning strategy in this post.
I still remember the lunch on 2nd September 2019, it was the first time I met my team – A2. Little did I know back then that these eight teammates will become the most important part of my MBA journey but within the first week we all realized that it’s going to be a beautiful journey together. We were bonding as a team and all of us were extremely focused on our goals.
The Capstone project was something we were all looking forward to doing together as a team, and to add to the build-up of our expectations, the A2 team of MBA 2020 told us that they were defending champions and expected us to keep the momentum going. Fast forward to March 2020, the entire team was excited on the day of project assignment, and to our joy we got Professor Mario Capizzani as our mentor for the project. He was our marketing professor in term 2 and we had all enjoyed his knowledge and dedication in class. Our project was to work for InBoundCycle, a marketing agency specialized in inbound marketing, which we had touched on in one of our marketing cases.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, campus closed even before our capstone project had started so we had to complete the entire project working together virtually from various countries. The IESE administration did a great job in rearranging our term 3 schedule to make the most of the project during the first weeks. It allowed us to go all-in for capstone and give it our full dedication. Over virtual meetings, we met with the founder and CEO of InBoundCycle, Pau Valdes, who was always ready to help and provide us a detailed understanding of the company, the market, and the specific issue in which we were assigned to work on.
With all the required information, the team started working on the project with dedication and a goal in mind to win the capstone. We divided the team into three sub-teams based on our background, preference, and areas of interest. I believe our teams ability to adapt and keep the team above self were the main reasons for us to work well together without having any conflicts. The sub-teams worked individually and updated the whole team daily with a status of what we were currently working on. It also allowed the rest of the team to give their input and suggestions. This was positively received by everyone and a crucial influence in a lot of the directions we went with the project.
The biggest challenge for the team was to work with members being in different time zones. A special shout out to our rising star teammate Kazuya Saito who was very involved in the project even though he had to relocate from Barcelona to London, and later to his home country Japan. Showing great commitment to the capstone, he was involved in the team meetings irrespective of the local time at his location. The entire team adjusted their schedule to ensure that the whole team participated and contributed. We also received a lot support from our mentor who was available for short discussions and feedback which helped us steer the project in the right direction.
Based on the discussions and market study that we did, the team decided to go against the company’s plan and suggest a different way of going about it if it was to be implemented. Our conclusion required us to defend why we believe the opportunity under consideration might not be the right move for the company at this time, but we suggested how and when we believe it could be an opportunity worth considering in the future. We learned a lot about the industry, strategic planning and how we can effectively work together as a team, even at a distance. The team’s bonding turned out to be our unique selling position, and the team collectively believed in our bold recommendation for the company. This decision turned out to be the key and we were the only team to take such a strong stand in the project.
We delivered a solid presentation backed by clear data and arguments. All these factors combined gave us a near perfect score in the evaluation and we were chosen as the Capstone winners for this project with InboundCycle. It is the third consecutive year Team A2 has won their Capstone project (no pressure on Team A2 of 2022)!
The Capstone project underlined a very important assumption that I had in September 2019, Team A2 was not only able to develop close personal bonds, but we are also well balanced to win competitions. The Capstone project allowed us to work on topics that we had covered in the MBA classes so far, like finance, marketing, leadership and market opportunities, and putting them to practice in a real-world setting. To sum it all up, the two weeks of Capstone were amongst the most fun weeks of my MBA experience and winning the competition was the icing on the cake.
Thank you to Team A2 (MBA 21) for contributing this post – Marta Durany (Spain), Fernando Lapadula (Argentina), Diana Dan (Romania), Alex Housser (Canada), Andres Velez (USA), Mayank Dayal (India), Maren Skott-Myhre (Norway), Antonio Niemeyer (Brazil) and Kazuya Saito (Japan).
Congratulations to all the winning teams for this year’s Capstone projects! You can find out more about IESE’s Capstone Project here.
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