CHAPEL HILL, NC— Bain and Company, a Boston-based business consulting firm, held its annual case race competition for UNC-Chapel Hill students last Friday. Teams of participants devised and demonstrated strategies to drink a case of beer in the least amount of time possible.
In the first round of the competition, twenty student teams spent a week preparing a fifteen minute presentation of the fastest way for three people to finish a 24-pack beer of Keystone Light.
“We partnered with Keystone Light to hopefully bring a refreshing and powerful experience to students here at UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Tyler Scheffer, a Bain employee. “We’re excited to see the results.”
Competitors were told to make educated assumptions about certain key data points as they worked to provide innovative solutions to the problem and then enact them during the presentation.
“A lot depends on who’s on your team,” said Steven Chu, a junior in the Kenan-Flagler business school. “Best-case scenario, you have a couple of frat stars who can shotgun three beers right off the bat. Worst case, you’ve got nobody who can shotgun more than one. If your team can’t finish half the beers in the first 10 minutes, you’re definitely at a strategic disadvantage.”
Many competitors echoed Chu’s assessment, and most said they expected parity among the case race teams.
“There are only four Beta guys in the competition, so we assumed that most players will have a similar base-line beer drinking ability,” said David Andrews, a brother at Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “We can’t all be ringers.”
Many of the teams reported putting in long hours in the days before the final presentation.
“My team has put in, like, 50 hours this week,” said a haggard and hung-over Jack Warner. “At first we experimented with opening all the beers at the beginning to get rid of carbonation. Then we poured the beer into cups to chug faster. Our slide deck is great, perfect gradient choices and all, but I don’t know if our solution is strong enough.”
In the first round, teams demonstrated their case race strategies to a panel of Kenan-Flagler professors, which selected the three strongest teams to demonstrate before a panel of Bain executives, as well as an executive of Coors Brewing Company, the parent company of Keystone Light.
The final round took place in an auditorium in Kenan-Flagler business school. The three final teams gathered around 24-count cases of Keystone Light sitting on folding tables. Their Powerpoints were behind them, ready to display graphs, case studies, and an impressive array of appendix slides. The beer was at room temperature, as the teams requested, so that it would sit lighter on the stomach.
The race began with all teams shotgunning, leaving the suits and ties of the competitors soaked.
The teams remained neck-and-neck until the competitors reached their fourth beer, when Jack Henson stumbled to the edge of the stage and vomited. His team was disqualified and his exit was met by contemptuous looks from the panel.
Karen Walker, a partner a the firm who was judging the contest, said it was a disappointing ending to a promising presentation.
“We saw a lot of promise in [that team], but mistakes like that are not going to get you a first-round interview,” explained Walker. “People at Bain can hold their shit.”
Jason Merill, Aaron Pierce, and Daniel Wingrave won the case competition, showcasing their ability to down the Keystone Light case in a tight 35 minutes.
“What can I say,” Merill said, “we have great synergy.”
For their performance, the three were presented with honorary gift cards to the Chapel Hill bar Pantana Bob’s, which Bain officials said they hoped would help the students”keep up the good work” until they graduated. While Bain officials would not say whether they had further plans for the winning young men, they indicated that outstanding performance in the case competition would weigh favorably when it came to offering interviews for junior associate positions with the company.
“As an undergraduate, working on cases in an environment like this is the best preparation you can get for Bain,” said Chris Spencer, Bain executive and the chief organizer of the competition. “I mean, of course, it’s important to remember that these are just cases, and the real world is different, but this is a start.”
“In the real world, we mainly do blow,” he added.