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IE University Students Win 1st Place in the A.T. Kearney Challenge 2019


Four Dual Bachelor students won the A.T. Kearney Challenge 2019, fast tracking their applications for graduate positions at the coveted consulting firm.

Borja Garcia Alonso, Natalia Carceller, Astrid Sabrina Bifulco (Dual Bachelor in Business Administration and International Relations), and Valeria Hernandez Sanchez (Dual Bachelor in Business Administration and Laws) formed IE Superseniors – the winning team of this year’s case competition. Of the 50 teams that applied from universities across Spain, six teams made it to the final competition held at A.T. Kearney’s office in Madrid.

The A.T. Kearney Challenge – now in its fifth edition – gives university students interested in management consulting the chance to work with A.T. Kearney consultants and solve a real life case. This year’s case focused on the post-merger integration of an Italian company in Spain.

Besides earning the winning title, IE Superseniors took home another prize: fast-tracked applications for A.T. Kearney’s graduate positions. All four students will automatically skip the first round of the firm’s selection process – including a challenging series of numerical tests – and go straight into the interview phase.

This is the second time in three years that IE University students have won the challenge.

Interview with the winners

Two members of the winning team spoke to IE Talent & Careers about their experience at the final and tips they would give future contestants.

How did you find out about this opportunity?

Borja Garcia Alonso: I learned about this opportunity in the IE Career Portal. When I saw the announcement of the competition, I asked one of my classmates if she wanted to apply with me and we started forming our team. We had a pretty strong team in terms of academic and professional background.

Natalia Carceller: I went to the Women’s Brunch at A.T. Kearney where they actively recommended we participate to get a good insight on how the company works, how you work with other colleagues, and how to present results to your client.


How do you feel your IE University experience helped you perform in the Challenge?

Borja: IE has definitely taught us to be confident when presenting in front of people. When receiving the first prize, we were told that our communication skills and our English level had been the crucial factor when deciding the winner.


What did the challenge consist of and how did you like the experience?

Borja: The challenge was extremely fun to do. A.T. Kearney presented us with a real case project for a client that we deeply analyzed to identify the sources of its problems and come up with solutions. We had around four hours in total to work on it – analyzing the client’s financial data in Excel, preparing the presentation for the client, and presenting our recommendations to the client board (A.T. Kearney directives played that role). What made the competition so special and entertaining was the fact that employees at every level of the firm were involved in the challenge and actually acted as the clients in order to make it more realistic. For instance, we had to conduct interviews with them to extract necessary information to solve the case.

Natalia: There is no need to prepare anything for the day. The moment you arrive, you are pitched about the case and client you will need to work for. Throughout the day, you will need to work closely with your team, conduct interviews to obtain as much information as possible, and then draft a final recommendation for your client.


What advice would you share with current students interested in participating in future editions of the A.T. Kearney Challenge?

Borja: You get a very short time to do everything, therefore you really need to work effectively and be organized, communicate with your team, divide the tasks in a proper and efficient manner, and know how to deal with the pressure to meet the deadline.

However, participating isn’t just about the case. You also get the opportunity to network with team members from other top tier universities and with A.T. Kearney employees at every level (analysts, managers and even with the President of A.T. Kearney Spain and Portugal). Therefore, talk to them. Learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take advantage of this big opportunity.

Natalia: I have two recommendations. Firstly, sign up with people you know. There will be moments of high stress and working under stress can be difficult. If you know your team well, you will know how to divide tasks better and how to help each other.

Secondly, enjoy the opportunity. You will be surrounded by consultants there to help you and by teams from all over Spain there only for this challenge. Try to take some time to get to know them and ask as many questions as possible.


What advice would you share with current students interested in participating in future editions of the A.T. Kearney Challenge?

Borja: Definitely apply if you’re interested in consulting as it’s an unforgettable experience. Then, if your team gets selected, just have fun, learn from it and make the most out of it!

Natalia: Have a PowerPoint template prepared. It will save you a lot of time!