April 22, 2008
Hello fellow Fosterites,
As most of you have likely heard, our Foster team won the CIBER Case Competition at the University of
Wisconsin last week. We defeated ten other teams, including five teams from US-based business schools
and five international teams. This is the second year in a row that UW has won the CIBER case
For those of you interested in more information, a detailed recounting of our time in Wisconsin is below,
and our final presentation slide deck is attached. Thanks to all of you who provided guidance and insight
along the way; we couldn’t have done it without you!
Also, please feel free to forward this along to anyone who would enjoy it!
6:00 PM. We all attend a welcome reception. This is a chance to meet some of the other teams and
9:03 PM. Our team decides to call it a night, correctly predicting that sleep will be a precious commodity
in the days to come.
8:00 AM. All teams receive the case. In a nutshell, our task is to recommend to the board of the Walt
Disney Company where they should open their next theme park/resort. We are given basic financials of
the company along with descriptions of their current theme parks in Florida, California, Tokyo, Paris, and
8:46 AM. The four of us finish reading the case and meet in Room 810 of the Fluno Center to begin our
discussions. Our work-room has a large window overlooking Madison and Lake Mendota. Good thing we
have a room with a view, since we will be spending much of the next 24 hours here.
9:23 AM. We cull our initial list of locations down to six: Australia, Brazil, China, Dubai, India, and Russia.
We also start to develop criteria for ranking these locations, such as cultural fit, reachable population,
economic growth, and potential for cannibalization. We divvy up analytical tasks, examining 10ks,
annual reports, demographic trends, and any other useful information we can get our hands on.
12:17 PM. Lunch break! We are so engrossed in our analysis that we are 17 minutes late picking up our
box lunches, leaving us mostly with unpleasantly oil-soaked veggie sandwiches. Craig drinks his third and
fourth Cokes of the day. After lunch, our respective analyses continue.
3:26 PM. For the first time all day, Craig, Paul, and Fran emerge from the Fluno Center. We walk to
Starbucks, stopping on the way back at a shop selling various Wisconsin gear. The three of us decide the
most appropriate birthday gift for our fourth team member (Lauren) is a large cheese-head.
3:37 PM. Using the extra brain power inherent in the cheese-head, the four of us cull our list of six
locations down to three: Australia, Brazil, and India. We decide to eliminate Australia soon thereafter
and focus on choosing from between Brazil and India.
3:46 PM. Using the Foster School elective bidding process, we give ourselves each 100 points to assign
to Brazil and India and conduct a straw poll. India comes out far ahead for three of us. Craig defends
Brazil, leading to an hour of extremely useful discussion about the pros and cons of each option.
4:44 PM. We have our decision: India! And it only took us 8 hours and 44 minutes! We begin to
acknowledge that sleep is not likely.
4:47 PM. Time to talk through our latest version of the story. We decide that our presentation should be
split in half, with the first half dealing with location selection and the second half dealing with an
4:54 PM. Using a technique borrowed from Kevin Kirn (a Class of ’08 winner of multiple case
competitions), we start to storyboard the presentation by asking the next natural question that a judge
might have. From this, we see the holes in our analysis and begin to divvy up work:
Craig takes the introduction and location selection. Because he was the last to come on board with
India, we decide this will be a useful exercise for increasing his excitement around our chosen
Fran begins to examine the actual implementation plan. What will our park look like? Where in India will
it be located? Who will our target customers be, and why? What partnerships will we pursue?
Paul and Lauren delve into the financials. How should we price admission? How much will development
and ongoing operations cost?
6:18 PM. Conducting a team check-in, we realize another strategic theme is beginning to emerge: we
start to see Disney’s theme parks not as a profit center unto themselves, but as a brand center pushing
all of Disney’s business segments onto the Indian populace. Another image we begin to use is the park
as a beachhead in the war to convert customers to the Disney brand.
8:58 PM. Paul starts to grumble about being hungry, and the team departs to Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry
(located about 50 feet from the Fluno Center). Under the “when in Rome…” philosophy, we order fried
cheese curds, fried mac-and-cheese wedges, and several Wisconsin beers.
10:37 PM. Bloated but happy, we return to the Fluno Center and start to develop slides in earnest. At
this point, the slides consist of little in the way of formatting but much in the way of content. We’re
confident that we have strong arguments for our location selection and our implementation plan, but
we need more supporting details.
12:41 AM. Craig sweet-talks the front-desk clerk into printing our slides at not charge. At this point, we
lay all 63 slides out on the table. Some slides are combined; some are moved to our appendix; and some
are left as is.
1:31 AM. We try to talk through a rough version of our current presentation and end up in a long
argument about the structure of our implementation section. We end up deciding not to drop a
conventional structure (e.g. “4 Ps”) on this section, which turns out to be the right decision.
2:17 AM. With the holes in our presentation made plain by laying our slides on the table, we dig back in
to add detailed content to our slides. Craig also starts developing the look-and-feel of the slides.
2:52 AM. Lauren departs for some well-deserved shut-eye. Fran tells Craig in the gentlest way possible
that the Cinderella’s Castle slide background is not really working for her.
3:58 AM. The three conscious teammates explore the presentation rooms and see only one other team
4:22 AM. Paul finishes the last of his slides, and realizing that Fran and Craig are enough cooks in the
formatting kitchen, decides to depart to his room for a shower.
4:37 AM. Craig and Fran stare at each other as the Fluno Center begins to tremble. “Is that an
earthquake?” “I think it is!” Paul, in the shower, is completely oblivious. A few hundred miles south of
Madison, a magnitude-5.2 earthquake strikes West Salem, Illinois.
5:05 AM. Paul returns to the eighth floor and finds a newly-polished slide deck created by the two
earthquake survivors. He begins slide cleanup duty while Fran and Craig break for showers.
6:15 AM. With the four of us awake and (moderately) alert, we begin to review our respective slides for
6:54 AM. We do our first full run-through, and it’s 22 minutes, 2 minutes over the limit. Uh-oh.
7:16 AM. Last-minute changes to slides are made, including Lauren consolidating our appendix slides,
which ended up playing an important role in our Q&A.
7:44 AM. We send Craig downstairs to hand in our slide deck and draw our time slot, with hopes of
getting a later slot and the chance to do a few more full rehearsals.
7:46 AM. Craig comes back with good news (we drew into the only group with three teams; the other
two groups had four teams each) and bad news (we drew the first slot and had to present at 8:30 AM).
7:47 AM. Craig frantically hustles to get our deck printed, only to see the Italian team in front of him in
line use all the toner in the hotel printer. Luckily, his friend at the front desk comes through in the
clutch! In the mean time, we each practice our individual sections, but we cannot find the time to do
another full run-through.
8:25 AM. High fives among our team, wishes of good luck, and reminders to speed things up a bit.
8:28 AM. Our team steps into the morning presentation room for Group A. We introduce ourselves to
the judges and hand out our Craig-designed business cards, which nearly gives the moderator a heart
attack when she thinks we’re revealing our school.
8:30 AM. Craig leads off with energy and tells the Disney Board what their real problem is: that Asia
represents 60% of the world’s population, but only 5% of Disney revenues. He lays out our aggressive
objectives around diversifying Disney’s revenue stream geographically while maintaining company-wide
return on assets. He introduces the idea that parks should serve as brand centers instead of profit
centers, and judges begin nodding. Finally, Craig tells the judges that our choice is India and introduces
our decision-making criteria, before handing things off to Lauren.
Lauren walks the judges through our reasons for choosing India and does an excellent job of introducing
our population density map, one of our key graphics. She explains not only the key benefits associated
with India, but also the main risks, and how we intend to mitigate those risks.
Fran steps in next and takes the judges step-by-step through our implementation. She explains the
reasons that Mumbai is the right location and pauses for awhile on the importance of cultural sensitivity
in opening this new park. Her slide on “Who are the customers” seems to get good reactions from the
judges. Little do they know that each of our six Indian customers is named after one of our Indian
classmates from the class of 2009! Fran finishes up with our suggestions around promotion and how to
reach our customers, and then hands it over to Paul for the numbers.
Paul walks the judges through our financial results, keeping the bulk of the assumptions in appendix
slides and available for Q&A. He reemphasizes our strategy of pushing the brand, and links it to some of
our financial decisions, such as negotiating pricing power with our development partners and using that
power to keep prices low. After showing the judges our estimates of operating profits, he hands it back
to Craig to finish up with our implementation timeline.
8:49 AM. We finish at 19 minutes and move onto 15 minutes of Q&A from the judges. Some of the
questions are difficult, but the appendix slides are extremely useful and help show the judges the full
extent of our analysis.
9:05 AM. Relief! We have a chance to sleep until team photos and lunch.
1:15 PM. After suffering through photos and lunch in anticipation of this moment, the decisions are
announced, and our team is onto the final round! Our competition will be the University of Maryland
and the host school, the University of Wisconsin. And yet again, we draw the first presentation slot.
1:20 PM. We develop our plan of attack, which involves printing color copies of our deck at a print shop
across the street and focusing on the questions from the morning Q&A that stumped us the most in lieu
of running through the presentation again.
2:25 PM. More high fives and exhortations to “throw fastballs.”
2:30 PM. Second verse, same as the first (only this time, in a bigger auditorium). We all seem a little
sharper this time around, and one of the judges uses 40 seconds of his Q&A time to compliment us on
our analysis. Still, the judges ask a number of tricky questions, and our appendix slides again come to the
3:15 PM. Because we drew first, we get the chance to watch our two competitors present. The
University of Wisconsin presents another case for Mumbai, which is somewhat gratifying, and they’re
followed by Maryland’s attempt to convince the judges that Brazil is the right choice.
7:00 PM. After a few drinks in the Fluno Center bar (a bar would be a nice addition to the Bank of
America Building!), it is time for dinner and the presentations of the winning teams. With our hearts
pounding through our shoulders, we hear the announcement of Wisconsin as the third place team. Then
the moment of truth; the second place team: Maryland! We win! Hugs, handshakes, and pictures ensue;
trophies and iPod prize packages are collected; a few more celebratory drinks are consumed.
7:35 PM. One of the final-round judges asks if she can give us some feedback. She takes us into a small
room and proceeds to give us 20 minutes of unadulterated praise. She says the decision was easy and
unanimous; that we were an A+. She emphasizes how our team presented a cohesive story and behaved
as a team that seemed to genuinely like each other. She praises the rigor of our analysis, the style of our
slide deck, and the skill of our presentation.
This feedback is intensely rewarding. To work so hard, with your friends, for more than 30 hours, and
then to be rewarded with such success is a memory we will all cherish.
Class of 2009
Michael G. Foster School of Business
University of Washington