Petr Zak

Finance and IT enthusiast, problem solver

Is Ace the Case workshop worth it?

KPMG provided several workshops in winter semester in the Czech Republic. One of them focused on real business cases was Ace the Case. It is divided into two days. In the first day you are given presentations from KPMG consultants and directors, whereas in the second day you have the chance to bring all of the first day experience into practice.

Day one – Theory

Before lunch sessions, leader – Gray Krueger

At the beginning the participants are divided into teams of 4 to 5 people. To break the ice and relax the atmosphere there is a meet-the-others game (well it’s called bingo and you can win a 8GB flash drive ;-) ).

After that you are given a simple Tennis club case study to catch on. The time is divided into scanning and reading. Your goal is to find what matters and what does not. It is not only text based, several exhibits are included as well. And here comes the first issue – once you see something you are familier with you start with it. Even though it might not be important at all.

Lecture 1: Figure out what is important. Don’t waste time on what is not.

KPMG provides you with a cheat sheet to help you. The whole process of the analysis is divided into 7 steps. It’s not a purpose of this article to write them down, but you can get a feel from their publicly available case studies, just google them ;-)

With regards to Gray – I haven’t seen such a positive person for quite a long time. His enthusiasm was contagious. There couldn’t be a better start of the day :-)

After lunch sessions, leaders – Filip Nemeth, David Slánský

The first session in the afternoon is dedicated to quantitative analysis. You might expect it to be more detailed. Then you are really surprised that in 90% cases you don’t need to know even the NPV formula. I can say this is the biggest surprise, at the university this is considered as the real basics :-)  Anyway it is still quite easy to get confused while analysing the numbers. Filip provides great overview and a simple way to not to get lost.

Lecture 2: Don’t make it difficult when it’s simple.

Before a short break David (or his brother, who knows :-) ) gives a pretty funny introduction into presentation skills – how to be a real presentation star. After break? Intensive 3hours with your own presentation in front of all the participants at the end.

Lecture 3: You feel nervous while presenting? 99% of the audience will not notice that.

Throughout the day, all the theory is followed by practice. Great way how to remember the key points and keep you up. You won’t feel tired even after 10 hours.

Day two – practice

You are given approx. 15 pages case study from real business, laptop, flipchart, pencils and refreshment. Internet is not allowed to use. The goal of your team is to prepare the strategy for your fictive customer. You have 3 hours. After the first reading you feel you can’t make it on time. After a team brainstorming you feel you are the best. And then you don’t have much time to prepare your presentation :-)

Lecture 4: Don’t make too many slides. On the other hand 1 slide is definitely not enough.

The purpose of the presentation is not to help you, but to help your customer to keep track. Your analysis could be the best, but if you don’t sell it in the right way you can’t win. Your analysis must be followed by your recommendations, you action plan. You have to have the data to support your plan. Why should your customer build up just two factories even though he wants to build 4, etc.

The time is up and you have to present your solution to the fictive board of directors (Well, it’s up to you to figure out who you are presenting your solution to – is it BoD, a president of the company, stakeholders?) The board consists of KPMG consultants and directors. After judgment they visit your team to provide you with feedback. Invaluable experience.

So is it worth it?

I must say YES. Here are few key points:

  • You learn how to organize your research. Doesn’t matter if it is business case or master’s thesis.
  • You realize a lot of things and will probably start to think in a different manner.
  • You meet people from real business who also provide lectures at universities.
  • You can easily figure out what is important, what is not and how easily you can get distracted.
  • You get free lunches and snacks :-)
  • You meet new people, you cooperate in a team and divide roles.

Why CRM matters

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. There are more than 45 definitions of CRM (Zablah, Bellenger and Johnston, 2004), used in academic literature, on main CRM portals or used by top CRM vendors. All in common represent a strategy to reduce costs and  increase profitability by keeping long term relationships with customers (consumers, companies, government, or even other department of the same firm).

Benefits:

Customer satisfaction

Primary goal of CRM is to collect relevant data about customers. Once you have the data you can use them to identify customers preferences and make them satisfied. It has a positive impact on customer retention and obviously on financial results. Reichheld and Sasser (1990) mentioned in their study that 5% improvement of the so called customer retention rate caused the company profit to rise by 25 – 85 %.

Customer retention

To acquire a new customer is more expensive than to convince your current one to purchase goods/services (Liswood, 1989). Using CRM data may create an illusion on the customer side about his uniqueness and personal approach even though you provide the same service to others as well. On the other side excessive usage of such data could be counterproductive – customer could feel monitored.

Strategic information, reporting

To have and collect good data is the most crucial part of CRM. It’s not a one time process, it is rather a long term project of updating data and doing analyses to make the output relevant. If the reporting modul is available in CRM software it provides important information to help managers in decision making. Advantages of reporting module:

  • Summary of sales, success of marketing campaigns, real time request processing,
  • profitability of product and services, companies often support the unprofitable ones,
  • overview of the profitability of customers,
  • customer satisfaction,
  • acquisition costs,
  • discount effectivity,

If company uses the above mentioned information correctly it can forecast the market and its customers behavior and target the marketing campaigns in a better way.

Increase of customer lifetime value

We can split the life cycle of a customer into three phases – acquisition, relationship development, relationship termination. It is well known that a satisfied customer will share his experience less than the unsatisfied. That’s why the relationship development is key also for acquisition. Moreover satisfied customers swill come back and buy other goods repeatadly. Altghough termination of the relationship is underestimated part of the CRM, it is necessary to register and analyze the reasons – why it happened, under what circumstances, what is the learning outcome for the company.

Conclusion

I covered the reasons why it is good to have CRM implemented in a company. Nevertheless there is one huge (hidden) assumption to have the positive outcomes from using it – employees who use CRM responsibly. CRM must be functional on all the levels of company hierarchy and employees have to input real data. With regards to CRM software used – it must be easy to use and eye-candy. Employees have to feel comfortable to use it every day or even every minute.

Resume tips

Resume is usually the first way how you introduce yourself to a company you would like to work for. Google search provides a lot of great insights and information. On the other hand it is always good idea to talk to a career coordinator at your university or  someone from Human Resources. You can get valuable information.

Tips

„Give a recruiter a reason to keep on reading your resume, not to discard it.“

General

  • Quality over quantity! Do not write more than 2 pages, 1 is optimal.
  • Don’t mess information from different categories (driving license shouldn’t be mentioned in contact section).
  • Be original, don’t use bad templates (such as this one), but get inspired.
  • Be concise, clear and tailor it to a position
  • Do not include references (you can state “References available upon request”)
  • No grammar mistakes!

Contact

  • Less is more – include name, address, phone, email, (LinkedIn profile link)
  • Do not include date of birth, marital status. It’s discriminatory in certain countries (and to be honest in some companies as well).

Academics

  • Should be first or second section on your resume with regards to the position you apply for.
  • Certificates and courses shouldn’t be included in this section, rather create a new section.
  • If you didn’t finish the university, be honest and write down why (for instance interruption and termination of studies due to other university acceptance)
  • Write down the topics of you bachelor’s/master’s thesis.

Certificates and Skills

  • Do not lie. The recruiter will soon find it out.
  • If you are not sure about your expertise, use “Profficient”, “Working knowledge”, “Basic knowledge”, etc.

Volunteering, Internships

  • Definitely worth to mention. It shows the recruiter you are proactive.

Make outstanding LinkedIn profile

Over the past few years, LinkedIn has become an essential personal branding tool (even in the Czech Republic with 600 000+ users as of September 2014). I will discuss few tips how to make it outstanding and valuable for potential recruiters. This article is a summary of a presentation provided by Tomáš Dušenka, a professional recruiter at Česká spořitelna, #1 on the Czech bank market with more than 650 branches and around 10,000 employees.

Before you start to update your profile it’s a good idea to turn off the notifications (you can do it in the right sidebar while editing). Your followers won’t be then spammed by all the minor changes you have made and saved. You can turn it on when you are almost done (for example with your Summary updates) to let them know your profile has changed.

General Section

  • Good photo = 40% of success. Try to avoid blurred or party photos. Imagine you are the recruiter and would like to hire yourself.
  • Publish your name without academic degree or other titles. Use your name without diacritics. No worries, LinkedIn will find you even without them ;-)

Headline

Headline is the place where you can distinguish yourself from others. Promote yourself. Headline and summary are the first fields recruiters (or anyone searching for suitable candidates) see.

  • Describe you position in a way it’s obvious what you do or what you are interested in. Do not write just the title of the position (“HR Specialist”). Get inspired by top headlines but do not copy them!
  • Edit the URL of you profile to make it readable by humans (for instance www.linkedin/in/petrzak1)

Summary

It should reflect your story. There is a lot of space for your job titles further, this is the place to promote yourself in a personalized way.

  • Write it in the “I” form. I did, I succeeded, etc.
  • You can introduce the company you are currently working for and describe what you do for it.
  • Even though you can’t use formatting, there are several symbols you can use, see Symbols to spice up your LinkedIn profile
  • Claim why someone should contact you

My Experience

This is the most important part.

  • Write in points
  • You can divide every position in sections “What were your responsibilities”, “What results you have achieved”, “What you have learned”
  • Describe everything clearly, write it for your 90 years old grandma or 10 years old brother ;-)

Skills

  • At the beginning it’s fair to mentioned 10-15 skills. More could be suspiscious (Do you really know all of these?)

Education

  • Add you Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis
  • If you are currently studying but not finished yet, state the year you suppose you will receive you degree (it will appear there as “Expected”)

Volunteering, Additional Awards and Honors

  • Have you volunteered?
  • Have you awars any prize?
  • Definitely write it down!

What else?

  • The more people see your profile the better (obvious, I know :-)).
  • Use synonyms as well as abbreviations.
  • Use key words.
  • Be active, extend you network.
  • Add yourself to different groups according to your interests to get updates and job opportunities.
  • Keep you profile up-to-date and relevant
  • Add link to your LinkedIn profile to your email signature (either text or button)

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