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Rotman Problem Solving Challenge

Designed for prospective and incoming Full-Time MBA candidates, the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge is the first of its kind – a unique opportunity for future Rotman MBA students to dive deep into a messy, unstructured problem using our model-based approach to problem solving.

Event Details

Pre-MBA Event

Date: March 28 - 29, 2014 | 09:00 AM - 09:00 PM
Speaker(s): Rotman faculty and student mentors will guide you through the challenge
Venue: Rotman School of Management
105 St. George St.
Location: Toronto
Cost: Free
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Click the headings below for Problem Solving Challenge details:


We invite you to experience Rotman’s unique problem solving approach through a live decision making challenge! Designed for prospective and incoming Full-Time MBA candidates, the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge is the first of its kind – a unique opportunity for future Rotman MBA students to dive deep into a messy, unstructured problem using our model-based approach to problem solving. Rotman faculty and student mentors will guide participants through the three graded components to the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge, held at the Rotman School on March 28th and 29th. 

As a future MBA student, the Challenge will give you an opportunity to: 

  • Experience Rotman’s approach to developing high value decision makers
  • Build your pre-MBA skillset in problem solving, communications and presentations 
  • Connect with other prospective MBA students
  • Compete to win a number of scholarship awards

Competing participants will be asked to frame, analyze, and solve a problem by offering a recommendation for how to best address the issue presented in the problem summary.

Scholarship Awards

The top individuals with the highest cumulative scores will receive the following:

  • First place wins a full tuition scholarship valued at $90,000
  • Second place wins a $60,000 scholarship
  • Third place wins a $40,000 scholarship
  • Fourth place wins a $30,000 scholarship
  • Fifth place wins a $20,000 scholarship
  • Top individual presentation wins a $10,000 scholarship 
  • Top individual written submission wins a $5,000 scholarship 

The top groups with the highest group scores will receive the following: 

  • First place group wins a $5,000 scholarship per team member 
  • Second place group wins a $3,000 scholarship per team member 
  • Third place group wins a $2,000 scholarship per team member
  • Fourth place group wins a $1,000 scholarship per team member

Problem Solving Challenge Weekend

Problem Solving Challenge Weekend will run from March 28-29. 

Since this is a pre-MBA event, it will include resources designed to ensure incoming students from all academic and professional backgrounds have the support needed to tackle the Challenge. Resources will include: 

  • Industry pre-reading with your registration package 
  • An in-depth briefing as part of the kick-off session 
  • Guided problem exploration sessions in small groups 
  • One-on-one coaching sessions with student mentors 
  • Constructive feedback delivered by the judging panel 
  • Faculty debriefs on the Challenge prior to final presentations

Competition Question & Details

Competition Components

Rotman faculty and student mentors will guide participants through the three graded components of the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge: 
  1. Written essay submission
  2. Presentation on your above essay submission
  3. Team presentation relating to the topic question

First Round Requirements – Individual Written Submission

The first round requirement consists of an individual written submission (max. 1,000 words) in response to the following question: 

Social media is fundamentally changing how companies engage with their customers. It is frequently argued that companies need to “go social” or “go home”, yet many companies are uncertain about how to adapt to this new social reality. Choose an industry that, in your view, has not capitalized on the opportunities or prepared for the threats presented by social media and discuss both the greatest opportunities and threats facing companies in this industry. 

This will be the same question posed in the registration package you will receive. A suggested structure will be provided to all candidates and will be distributed with the registration package. 

The submission deadline has now passed. Good luck to everyone who will be participating in the 2014 Rotman Problem Solving Challenge!

Second Round Requirements – Individual Presentation

Participants ranked in the top 100 for written submissions will be invited to present via video skype to judges who represent a relevant stakeholder group (comprised of Rotman staff and/or industry representatives). Presentation time will allow for a 15 minute individual presentation followed by a five minute questions and answer period. A Powerpoint template will be provided along with a suggested structure for this presentation. 

Final Round Team Presentations & Reception

In the final round of the Challenge will take place during the Problem Solving Challenge weekend: March 28-29. Participants invited to this stage will be put in groups of approximately 5 students as newly formed “executive teams” and present their findings as teams. Each group will have 20 minutes to present live to senior stakeholders with 10 minutes of question and answer following the presentation. Four teams will then advance to the final round where they will present to senior Rotman representatives and industry experts. Upon completion of this round, winners will then be announced.

Note: Further details on the final round will be communicated to the selected participants.


In order to be eligible to claim awards, individuals must be accepted to the 2014 intake of the Rotman Full-Time MBA Program. All scholarship prize amounts will be deducted from tuition invoices upon commencement of the Program. For top individual overall prizes (first through fifth place), only incremental funding amounts will be extended if the winning candidate already has a scholarship offer (i.e. If the second place winner previously received a $30,000 admissions award, Rotman would extend an additional $30,000 to total the second place prize figure of $60,000).

  • Candidates interested in participating who have not yet submitted applications to Rotman are required to verify their eligibility by providing a résumé and a GMAT score (if applicable) in addition to their written submission. 
  • The Top Team Presentation prize will be awarded to all team members. 

Those accepted to the 2014 intake of the Rotman Full-Time MBA Program who submit an entry to the Challenge but do not advance into the top-100 stage for the written submissions are eligible for the Top Team Presentation prizes only.

Frequently Asked Questions

Help! I don’t know where to begin! Got any tips on how to write my submission?

Check out the webinar recording of our Learning Lab for some extra help:

Is this event for prospective or incoming students?
Both! If you've already been admitted to the Full-Time MBA program, this is a great way to meet your future classmates and professors while getting an early start on building your MBA-level skill set. 

If you're still working on your MBA application or if you're weighing offers from multiple business schools, this is a perfect way to get an in-depth feel for the Rotman community, facilities, and education style.

If I am an incoming student but am not a finalist for the individual awards can I still participate? 
Definitely. If you were admitted to the 2014 intake of the Rotman Full-Time MBA Program, you can still compete in the team-based component of the Challenge.

Is there a required or recommended format for the written submission?
Your written submission should be uploaded in a word or pdf document. There are no specifications regarding layout of your submission. We are more concerned with the content.

For my written submission, will graphs, charts, and footnotes count towards the word limit?
Your word count will not be impacted should you elect to use graphs, charts, and footnotes, however, over-using them can cause your essay to become less impactful and harder to read.

Can I participate in the non-competition events if I am not competing in the Challenge? 
Definitely. We will have a variety of seminars and networking sessions throughout the weekend (schedule to be announced soon!) that will be open to any prospective students regardless if they are participating in the Challenge. To attend the non-competition events, you must still register by clicking on the registration box at the top of this page.
Do I have to travel to Toronto in order to compete?
Yes. You must be physically present at Rotman Problem Solving Challenge Weekend on March 28th and 29th in order to take part in the final competition. 

Since the live presentation component is a key part of the evaluation process, we are unable to consider you for an award if you cannot give your presentation in person. 

When you start planning your journey, please remember to ensure that you meet the visa requirements to enter Canada. 

Can Rotman reimburse me for my travel expenses?

No. Participants are responsible for the full cost of travelling to and from Toronto as well as accommodation and any other expenses incurred while staying in the city. 

We have, however, arranged discounted rates exclusive for Problem Solving Challenge Participants at two nearby hotels. Details are as follows: 

  • 7-minute walk to Rotman 
  • Rate: $190/night 
  • To make reservations, please visit the Park Hyatt's Rotman Problem Solving Challenge booking site
  • 3-minute walk to Rotman 
  • Rate: $129.99/night 
  • When placing your booking, quote the booking code: "RPS" to claim the above room rate.

I require an invitation letter in order to obtain a visa to visit Rotman. Will this be provided?
Yes, send an email to as soon as you have confirmed that you will be coming to Rotman, along with the requirements for the letter, and we will prepare it for you.

Should I register if I have already received an admissions offer with a scholarship?
Definitely. For example, if you had a $10,000 award and won first place overall, you would be awarded the balance of $80,000. Regardless of your current scholarship, you would also still be eligible for the full amount for both the top individual written/interview awards and all group awards in addition to your existing funding. But more than anything else, this is a fantastic opportunity to experience Rotman before the program begins, interact with faculty, staff and, most importantly, future classmates! 

Welcome Weekend for Admitted Students

March 29-30, Rotman will be opening its doors to all admitted students as well- regardless if they are participating in the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge. 

March 29 will feature a full day of activities on-campus, giving you the opportunity to learn more about Rotman in-person. Sessions will include: 

  • Coffee Chat with Rotman’s Managing Director - Kevin Frey, Managing Director of the Rotman Full-Time MBA Program, will be hosting prospective students, such as yourself, ready to answer any questions on your mind about Rotman. 
  • Your eBrand - The Rotman Career Centre, in partnership with Manpower, one of the world’s leading staffing firms, will show you how to create a successful personal brand online to attract and retain connections. 
  • Current student and alumni panel discussion - This panel will give you the opportunity to hear about life during and after the Rotman Full-Time MBA program from current and former students. 
  • Rotman building tours - If our Google Maps Virtual Tour isn’t enough for you, get the real thing during your visit to campus! 
  • Rotman’s Approach to Problem Solving - Get a better understanding of the approach that underpins all of your courses here at Rotman through an interactive session with Rotman faculty. 
  • Rotman Problem Solving Challenge Final Presentations - Watch your classmates as they vie for the win and a full tuition scholarship! 
  • Student Social - The day will end with the opportunity to mingle with your fellow future classmates and current students at a local bar. 
On March 30, Rotman alumni will be organizing several social events off campus exclusively for your cohort (no Rotman staff allowed!). This is will be a great opportunity to relax, unwind and learn more about Toronto outside Rotman. The full itinerary for the day will be released in the coming weeks. 

To attend the Rotman Problem Solving Challenge Welcome Weekend, please register at and advise if you plan to attend either or both of Mar 29 and Mar 30’s events. 

Please RSVP by March 15, 2014.

The Rotman School Problem Solving Challenge

Your opportunity to discover the Rotman School

Win a ScholarshipFirst prize covers full tuition

Rotman Full-Time MBA students laughing

Meet Your ClassmatesMake friends before your MBA

Rotman Full-Time MBA students chatting