All posts by khatch

More than a case competition

Guest post by Alex Brechner, GBCC Manager 2013

UW GBCC Students visit Esterline
UW GBCC Students on a Corporate Visit

Another year, another competition. Not this year! It is the 15th anniversary of the Foster School’s premier global competition, the Global Business Case Competition (GBCC).  Don’t allow it to slip past without recognition, instead stop for a minute and consider the impact of this competition over the course of 15 years.  Over 100 business schools from over 50 countries have sent teams to compete in GBCC.

Each year, for one week, universities from around the globe bring some of their best and brightest to the University of Washington (UW) to share in the competition and cultural collaboration. Students who would otherwise never have met gather together as friends and friendly competitors to share their wealth of knowledge. For one week, business as usual becomes something much greater – a chance for the UW to change from a dot on a map to a learning mecca where connections are built and memories are made. For those who get involved, it is a week not soon forgotten.

After speaking with past competitors representing UW, Katie Emoto and Michelle Lefler, it is clear that GBCC is far more than the average case competition. The participants are more than competitors; as Katie puts it, “by the end [of the week], everyone was so close.” Michelle adds that her favorite part of the competition week was “hanging out with everyone outside of the competition. It made the actual competition seem unimportant.” While both Katie and Michelle rave about the skills they took away from GBCC and the competition’s status on their resumes (both students are set up for employment after graduation), the true power of GBCC is in the sharing of culture, both inside and outside of the business environment. For instance, Katie used the intricacy of the Portuguese team’s PowerPoint as inspiration for her future presentations, and Michelle learned about a new employment program that led her to her future internship. They have also maintained contact with their fellow competitors a year after the competition. To the students and community members involved, GBCC is more than simply another case competition put on by the Foster School of Business

The 2013 competition is coming up next week. For the 15th time, there will be a week of laughs, spreadsheets, and newfound friends. This time, take notice and take part. After all, it only comes around once a year.

If you are interested in getting involved with GBCC 2013, come to the Global Networking Night on April 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Anthony’s Forum (Dempsey Hall), where you can meet the international student competitors. Also, join us for the GBCC Final Round on April 13 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm in the Shansby Auditorium (Paccar Hall 192). You’ll learn a little bit more about business and a lot more about the rest of the world.

Students present business strategy in Chinese

Business Language Competition - Kanghee Jeon, Alex Birch, Benjamin ChowCase competitions are an incredible skill builder for undergraduate business students – they require students to work as consultants on a real company and business challenges, they are given limited resources and time to create a solution, and then they are asked to present these solutions to a panel of corporate judges. Now, imagine doing this in a second language. This Fall, three Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) students studying Mandarin as a second or third language competed in the Chinese Track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition.

Kanghee Jeon, Alex Birch, and Ben Chow spent two weeks studying a case written in Chinese on Pepsi Company and preparing their presentation and executive summary all in Chinese. The team considered three countries in which Pepsi Company might expand. After assessing various economic factors, their solution was to enter the Chinese market. Their plan was to “penetrate not only beverages but also the food market which could be Pepsi’s competitive advantage over Coca Cola Company,” said Kanghee.

The team competed in three rounds at Brigham Young University, and they received outstanding feedback from the judges about the depth of their analysis and solution. Judges commented that they “loved how the presentation started with recommendations instead of analysis,” and that the students had a “great understanding of Chinese culture and financial environment” as well as “great leverage on business terms.”

One of the UW student competitors, Kanghee Jeon, said “I was very excited to do the case competition in a second language (or third for me).  Even though I was worried about my Chinese language skills, while preparing for the competition, I learned lots of new vocabulary and phrases. I am a lot more confident in speaking in Chinese after the competition. Additionally, it was a great opportunity for me to meet judges and other students from different schools.”

Kanghee would highly recommend participating in a business language competition to other students: “This is such a unique experience … You will get to build your teamwork, problem solving, time management, leadership, and language skills. It was challenging, but very rewarding!”

Sludge, China, and the Freshman Direct Track winning team

The 2012 Holland America Line Global Case Competition involved 48 hours of intense analysis of sludge, soil remediation, and joint ventures in China. The case for the November 17th competition was Phase Separations Solutions (PS2): The China Question, and over 60 Foster School undergraduates teams were asked to recommend a course of action regarding PS2’s opportunities in China.

Teams were asked to tackle difficult questions in the charge and even more challenging ones from the panels of corporate and faculty judges:  Which JV option should they pursue? What challenges are posed by partnering with the government? What about intellectual property theft? What are the bankruptcy laws in China?

Among these teams were sixteen Foster School Freshmen Direct students. They made up their own track in the morning rounds and competed for a $500 prize. The panel of judges for the Freshman Direct Track was impressed by the ease with which these teams presented and the depth of their research and analysis after only a few months at the Foster School.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the winning team of the Freshman Direct Track about their experience. Here is what the winning team members Tim Kim, Barrett Stapleman, Erik Meister, and Ben Hagen had to say:

 What did you learn? Lots of different business terminology; how to prepare, conduct research and how to play the role of a consultant; we learned what a real business presentation looks like, and how to creatively think on our feet.

What did you take away from watching the upperclassmen presentations in the Final Round? Teams need to know everything inside and out – the numbers, the strategy, the facts. The organization of their PowerPoint presentations was impressive, and the team members all presented in a professional tone that was very direct, clear, and to the point.

What was the most challenging part? Time management, researching obscure aspects of the case, and the formulation of the actual presentation – how to include relevant content without overwhelming the slide – were all difficult.

What would you tell other students? Even if you don’t have any background in case competitions, it is a good learning experience to throw yourself into this difficult situation. Just attack it. You will learn skills that will prepare you for the future like time management, presentation skills, and teamwork. Just go out and get involved.

Will you compete again?  Yes!

The Global Business Center would like to give a special thanks to our sponsor of this year’s competition Holland America Line. To learn more about the Holland America Line Global Case Competition, visit the Global Business Center website.

Study abroad photo contest winners 2012

Over 250 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year. These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year. The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories: 1) Foster Abroad: Photo that inspires others to study abroad or makes a statement about the student experience abroad; 2) My Global Lens: Views uniquely accessible to students living abroad – social issues, cultural interactions, cityscapes, landscapes, etc.

Here are the first and second place winners in each category. Enjoy them!

1st Place Foster Abroad: Chris Comley, Undergraduate; Montpellier, France

Bon Appetit, Au Revoir
Friends dining at an enchanting garden cafe, enjoying a final lunch of quiche, iced tea, and peaches and cream before the magic of a summer in the Midi ends

Experience abroad: Summer in the south of France afforded many luxuriant opportunities. Among the best were afternoons spent dining in this tiny garden area tucked discreetly behind an antiques shop where good food and company created moments to savor. The photos captures the ironic laughter of our final lunch at the cafe, a day before the end of the program.

2nd Place Foster Abroad: Ashley Matsumoto, Undergraduate; Kobe, Japan

Becoming Japanese
During summer in Japan, Yukata (summer version of kimono) is the Japanese traditional-wear for festivals and other events, but my fellow Foster friend and I decided one day near the end of our semester that we wanted to just explore the beauty of Kyoto and make memories together. We had hundreds of photos taken of us and are probably now in those tourists’ photo albums, who were shocked when we spoke to them in English – though we had been speaking the language the entire time there, this day in look we also finally became “Japanese.”

Experience abroad: Studying abroad was the most exciting, amazing, memorable experience of my life. Time became something I thought about every day. At home, most of my time was devoted to school, commute, family, friends, etc. But in Kobe, I was starting completely fresh with no established routine – and it was almost like time was something I now had complete control over, and /I/ could decide how I wanted to use it. My choice was to focus on everything happening in the here and now, so that I would never regret not doing something during these 6 months that I knew I would forever pine for but never get back no matter how many times I return to Japan. And when I look at my thousands of photos and think on the memories with the amazing friends I was able to make, I am happy to say that I regret nothing. And, I am heading back to Japan as soon as absolutely possible!

1st Place My Global Lens: Roda Barket, Undergraduate; Longji, China

Craving Fresh Air
Figuratively, craving the freshness and uniqueness of China. Literally, craving the fresh air in Longji after experiencing the pollution in Beijing and Shanghai.

Experience abroad: I had the most incredible experience of my life. Being an African immigrant young woman, I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to such an “exotic” country as China. I use the word “exotic” because I’m often referred to as exotic by Americans but never quite understood it until China. I never had the chance to go to a place or learn about a culture that was so unfamiliar to me. I had no idea what to expect. I loved every minute of my experience, it was life transforming for me and inspiring to many of the people I knew who also considered China exotic.
2nd Place My Global Lens: Alex Birch, Undergraduate; Pingyao, China

A Land That Time Has Forgotten
To describe urban and rural China as “180 degrees” from each other, would be an understatement. As much as we think of the progression made today, the rest of the world is still trying to catch up.

Experience abroad: I was able to explore many different areas in Asia while studying abroad in Shanghai. My program took me to the ancient city of Pingyao, the first city to have China’s first national bank. Here, I was able to witness rural China, something that I could never have imagined prior to arriving to the city. It truly made me realize that this is how a significant portion of the world still lives. Over my 3 months, I was able to experience the extreme ends of Chinese culture, the most modern and most dated, something I will never forget and always will cherish.

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 30 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.