How Our Team Won Gartner Sacramento’s Case Study Competition

Collaboration and quick decision-making combined for a winning solution

Over the course of six days, our team squared off against eight other teams from four MBA schools as part of Gartner’s 2022 Sacramento Case Study Competition. Surprisingly, only five teams successfully completed the competition and our team came out on top.

Here’s how we managed to claim first place.

The nature of the competition was pure collaboration. I joined other like-minded, competitive students with diverse perspectives who each brought their experiences and backgrounds to the table. We worked together over the week to develop the best solution to the business problem posed by Gartner—a $4.7 billion global technology research and consulting firm and a member of the S&P 500.

My team of six fellow MBA students—three each from the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and the University of San Francisco—quickly dissected the Gartner case. We synthesized the bulk of data, applied design thinking, generated useful insights, proposed the optimal solution for the public sector digital transformation and weaved a compelling story for our presentation.

A Whirlwind Competition

We had three days to prepare our presentation and on the fourth day we presented to Gartner’s leadership team. Later that day we found out we were one of two teams invited to present in the final round.

Our mentors from Gartner Nikhil Nayak and Trevor Jha also gave us feedback for improvement. Over the next two days, we re-strategized, implemented their suggestions, improvised and prepared the final output for the judges.

Gartner Case Competition Certificate for Yilei Ge and Archana Das
Yilei Ge (left) and Archana Das (right) show off their new Gartner Case Competition completion certificate.

A panel of chief information officers (CIO) from the State of California served as judges for the case competition, including CIO and Director of the California Department of Technology Liana Bailey-Crimmins, the Agency Information Officer for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency George Okamoto, and the CIO from the California Department of Transportation George Akiyama.

Government technology plays an important role in the lives of residents throughout California, the nation and globally. As a team, we felt we contributed our small share of insight with our analysis and recommendations that we hoped could pay dividends for these government agencies.

Gartner plans to continue their partnership with the State of California in attracting the next generation of leadership talent to solve the most complex challenges for public sector technology.   

Key Takeaways

Like most teams, we encountered a couple of challenges throughout the competition.

As the noteworthy American psychological researcher Bruce Tuckman stated, “Teams go through five stages of development which are necessary and inevitable: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.”

We had to form quick relationships within our group and work collaboratively to reach our ultimate goal. That’s not always easy, but we pulled it off.

We had to work quickly and make decisions as a unit, so we adopted the agree to disagree, accept, and commit mantra. One member was out of the country during the competition but was able to present remotely. Smoothly leveraging the hybrid mode helped us eliminate any sign of disadvantage.

Processing huge amounts of numeric and analytical data within a short span is also no small feat.

Winning with Gratitude

Gartner Case Competition photo of winning team
From left to right: Cameron Snyder (USF), Archana Das (UCD), Hang Le (USF), Kritika Singh (UCD), Yilei Ge (UCD), AIO George Okamoto, Gartner Senior Managing Partner Eugene Martinez, CIO George Akiyama, and CIO Liana Bailey-Crimmins.

Following our final presentation, the winner was finally announced. To our surprise, the judges started announcing our names.

“Archana Das (UC Davis), Yilei Ge (UC Davis), Kritika Singh (UC Davis), Sadique Mohammad Abdullah (USF), Hang Le (USF) and Cameron Snyder (USF) are the winners of the First Annual Gartner Sacramento Case Study Competition for MBA students attending schools in the region!”

The entire experience was enriching and made our bond stronger as a team.

We are grateful to the Gartner team for providing us with this golden opportunity and the platform to showcase our skills. Their mentoring and support for us throughout the journey was incredible.

We also appreciate UC Davis for driving such initiatives and giving us the opportunity to participate. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we’ll never forget hearing our names called and winning the grand prize.