24 Feb 2020

Three HBS Faculty Members Win Awards in Global Case Centre Competition


BOSTON&—Three members of the Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty, along with their research associates, have won awards in the 2020 Case Centre Competition. First presented in 1991, these annual awards, described by the Financial Times as the “the business school Oscars,” aim to recognize worldwide excellence in case writing and raise the profile of the case method, the centerpiece of participant-centered, discussion-based learning.

Based at Cranfield University in the U.K., the Case Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the case method in business education and sharing world-leading knowledge and expertise in case teaching, writing, and learning—a pedagogy first applied to management education more than 90 years ago at Harvard Business School.

The 2020 HBS winners are Associate Professor Marco Di Maggio, who was honored for “Snap Inc. (A)” in the Finance, Accounting, and Control category, and Assistant Professor Ayelet Israeli and Senior Lecturer Jill Avery, for “Predicting Consumer Tastes with Big Data at Gap” in the Marketing category.

Marco Di Maggio

Marco Di Maggio and Josue Gil Deza (MBA 2018)

Di Maggio and Deza's case looked at the day Snap Inc. went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Best known for its Snapchat app, which allowed users to share self-deleting pictures, Snap made its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) on March 17, 2017. Snap surprised the markets, pricing its IPO at $17 per share, an implied valuation of ~$23.6 billion. Some industry observers believed that Snap priced the IPO conservatively in order to attract investors who might be squeamish of a 'too rich' price.

“I think this case has been popular for two key reasons. First, it is a new company that many students are familiar with, and the case offers an ‘under the hood’ look at the business,” said Di Maggio. "Second, there is some drama with the ups and downs of the company since its IPO, with the stock price fluctuating in response to influencers’ changing appetite for using Snap, and a surprising moment that I won't unveil here but is detailed in the teaching note.”

(LtoR): Jill Avery and Ayelet Israeli

Jill Avery and Ayelet Israeli

Avery and Israeli examined how GAP CEO Art Peck replaced his creative directors with big data analytics to select the next season’s fashion trends. Peck was betting that intelligence fueled by big data could outperform the creative directors at predicting future fashion trends and consumer tastes.

“In this day and age, many companies are struggling with similar issues,” explained Israeli. “First, the so-called ‘retail apocalypse’ has left many traditional brands behind, including the iconic Gap, the subject of this case. Second, the advent of big data and analytics are impacting how many firms reimagine their business models. Third, predicting customer preferences is an important marketing problem, and new technologies offer new challenges as companies attempt to do so. Fourth, the Amazon piece in the case is also of timely importance as many brands are figuring out if they can survive on their own or have to be on Amazon to stay relevant and successful.”

“One of the highlights of writing this case was connecting the current managerial challenge facing Gap with academic research on consumer preferences,” added Avery. “Students often have misperceptions about their own and other consumers’ preferences and how they are formed and influenced by marketers and other creative producers in the culture.”


Cullen Schmitt

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.