Consulting firms primed for second basketball clash in Dubai

21 November 2019 3 min. read

The second Consultants Basketball Cup hosted by Roland Berger is set to take place this Friday in Dubai, with the McKinsey squad back to defend its crown against teams from a number of the world’s leading consultancies - including new challengers EY and Bain. 

Originally conceived by Roland Berger duo Karim Tabaja and Mohamed Kurdi as an annual tournament – with the inaugural event held in February – the Consultants Basketball Cup is already back by popular demand. Dubbed CBC_v02, the tournament this Friday will see teams representing many of the world’s leading consultancies attempting to dethrone defending champions McKinsey & Company – which edged out hosts Roland Berger in the first ever final.

Held at the Dubai British School in Jumeirah Park with tip-off at 1pm, teams from Boston Consulting Group, Oliver Wyman, Accenture, Delta Partners, PACS, and PwC and Strategy& will return to the court to take on the first edition’s finalists, with new entrants Bain & Company and Ernst & Young this time joining the fray in front of an expected crowd of 170 participants and fans. In addition to a trophy, the teams will also be in the hunt for prizes.

According to Tabaja and Kurdi, the event was designed to forge closer ties between those helping to advise and shape the region, a goal which to some extent appears to have been realised. “After the first edition back in February, it was interesting to see how consultants from all firms started organising basketball games amongst each other in Dubai or Beirut on weekends, or even during the week across major regional cities such as Riyadh,” says Tabaja.

Consulting firms primed for second basketball clash in Dubai

The eagerness among participants to compete against fellow consultants in a competitive but sociable environment while earning a brief reprieve from the high-pressure consultancy lifestyle has seen the CBC’s second edition scheduled earlier than expected, with Tabaja vowing to build on its popularity; “Our plan is to turn the CBC into a tradition across our region. As long as there are consultants eager to compete in a friendly basketball scrimmage, the CBC will be there.”

Before reaching the knock-outs, the assembled teams will square-off in a testing round-robin schedule of five-on-five 30-minute’ matches in the group stage, with last edition’s semi-finalists including Oliver Wyman and BCG (which took home the Excellence & Diversity award) spread across the four pools – setting up a tantalising potential rematch between McKinsey and Roland Berger in the final, the latter which quietly blamed injuries for their previous ten-point loss.

Also citing McKinsey’s ‘tenacious defensive tactics’ last time out and stating “we’ll get them next time!” on LinkedIn, Tabaja is throwing down the gauntlet to rivals; “We’re quite confident about our chances this year… our firms are all competing off-the-court in boardrooms but now is the time for the real competition: we're ready to show everyone that not only are our slides and models better, but that our basketball team is also the best – we’re bringing the cup home!”

Beyond mere bragging-rights, Roland Berger has also teamed up with the automated investment platform start-up Sarwa to offer prizes for the top three teams, with Tabaja citing the partnership and the strong support of Roland Berger’s leadership for the event as a reflection of the firm’s entrepreneurial mind-set – although regional managing partner Rene Seyger, an expert in the future of mobility, is perhaps better known for automated driving than driving to the basket.