Tag Archives: case competition

Students take 3rd place in BYU’s Business Spanish Competition

BYU Spanish TeamThis November, the Foster School of Business sent a team of students to compete in the Brigham Young University (BYU) Business Language Case Competition. What is unique about the competition is that it is conducted entirely in a foreign language. Student teams, consisting of non-native speakers, read and analyze a business case written in Spanish, and then present their solutions and answer questions in Spanish.

The Foster School team won third place this year and five hundred dollars. Team members Amanda Baker, Josh Twaddle, and Brandon Upton all studied or interned abroad in Spain, which greatly improved their language skills and gave them the confidence to tackle this case challenge.

The business case they worked on focused on the current market for organic foods. The team was to determine if there is a role for Walmart in this market segment. Brandon shared that their analysis “noted two main problems facing Walmart – first, Walmart has weak brand equity, and second, Walmart lacks an urban presence, which is where most consumption of organic food occurs. However, Walmart had strengths in its supply chain.”

Based on their analysis, the team recommended that “Walmart should launch an entire new line of organic stores that are stocked with products from local farms. By leveraging its supply chain, it could centralize foodstuffs from those farms in a distribution center, and then redistribute to city stores. These new stores would only be in leading urban areas in the U.S., including San Francisco, New York City, and Washington D.C. This ties Corporate Social Responsibility (empowering local farmers with urban demand) to generating new revenue streams from a premium market for Walmart.”

The BYU judges said that the Foster School team took a very innovative approach, and they really appreciated that the team even produced some of their own market research.

Photo: Foster School Faculty Coach, Bob Dawson, with student team members Brandon Upton, Amanda Baker, and Josh Twaddle.

2013 Holland America Line Competition: Students tackle global HR issues in 48 hours

Winning TeamThe Global Business Center is proud to announce that the 2013 Holland America Line Global Case Competition was a great success! The 24 teams made up of over 95 Foster School undergraduates presented in a preliminary round to corporate, alumni, and faculty judges on Saturday, November 16th. The top four teams were selected to move on to the final round of competition.

The judges all agreed that the case this year was particularly challenging as it dealt with global human resource management issues for Maersk. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Maersk is a global conglomerate with large shipping and oil and gas businesses. As Maersk’s businesses become ever more international, the company wants to increase the geographic diversity of its work force. Our competing student teams played the role of Maersk managers who were tasked with the following:
• Setting geographic diversity goals
• Recommending recruitment and retention strategies designed to achieve the goals
• Developing measures of progress towards these goals (key performance indicators)
• Estimating the costs of the recommended strategies

Of the four outstanding finalist presentations, Team 3 made up of Tara Ghassemikia, Sam Tanner, and Demetra Xenos took home the gold, winning the Holland America Line Global Case Competition and $1000. The winning team’s solution recommended that Maersk recruit in strategic growth markets for shipping and trade including Brazil, Russia, India, and other Latin American countries. Their three-tiered strategy was to “recruit, recognize, and retain.” They also recommended an annual international event to develop and recognize leaders called the “Maersk Reunion.”

For the second time this year, we also had teams of Foster School Freshmen Direct students compete in their own track to win the Freshman Direct Champion title and $500. Seven freshman teams competed, and the winning Freshman Direct Track team was Jessica Gilmore, Adam Kinkley, Ashley Kuhn, and Joseph Rebagliati. We are excited to see these students getting involved so early in their Foster careers!

Visit our website to find out more and learn how to get involved next year.

The Global Business Center would like to thank Holland America Line for their generous support of this unique educational event for Foster School of Business students. Holland America Line is a leader in the cruising industry and a longtime supporter of the Foster School of Business.

Sailing through the competition

Guest post by Ashley Bozeman, Senior, studying International Business & Marketing

Last week Holland America Line Global Case Competition competitors had the opportunity to attend a pre-competition workshop with Leta Beard, Lecturer of Marketing and International Business. Professor Beard has had years of experience coaching and guiding numerous case competition teams to victory all over the world. She had great insight for our brand-new freshmen competitors and senior veterans alike! Here are our “Top Ten Tips” we took away from the workshop—enjoy!

  1. Don’t panic when you get the case, you don’t need to know EVERYTHING, just focus on what’s important.
  2. Set a timeline for your 48-hour preparation. What do you want to have accomplished by what hour?
  3. Run through your presentation BEFORE submitting your slide deck. You will probably catch some things you want to change while you practice.
  4. Don’t memorize. It’s important to be comfortable with your talking points, but if you memorize you could get tripped up if something unexpected happens.
  5. Watch your pace: if it feels like you’re talking too slow, it’s probably just right.
  6. Leave 30 seconds at the end of your presentation when you practice. You don’t want to go over the time limit, and never know when those extra seconds might come in handy.
  7. “Tell us” three times. “Tell us what you’re going to tell us, then tell us, then tell us what you told us.” It’s important to have a clear direction and it never hurts to repeat key points.
  8. Stay “in character”. The team and the judges will each have a role—know these roles and address the judges and your teammates as their respective characters.
  9. Avoid jargon. The judges may not be familiar with acronyms and terms that you’ve learned in class so be sure to explain things like “SWOT” “NPV” and the “4 P’s”.
  10.  Have fun and Smile!!

Case CompCompetitors have been working hard preparing for the competition this week. Teams will receive their case on Wednesday, November 13th and present their ideas to judges on Saturday, November 16th. The top four teams will advance to the final round to compete for a chance at the championship title and $1000 cash prize. The top scoring “Freshman Direct Track” team will also be revealed at the reception following the final round. Best of luck to all of our competitors this week! Curious about the competition? Volunteer on Saturday to help make sure it runs smoothly! Email if you’re interested.

The final round presentations are open to the public so come by and watch their creative minds at work Saturday, November 16th at 2 pm in Anthony’s Forum, Dempsey Hall!

Perfect is the enemy of good

The Evening MBA Program recently hosted its first ever case competition for the second-year Evening MBA students. The competition served as an opportunity for students to apply what they learned in their first-year core classes toward a simulated business case. This year’s case was developed by Sadie Raney, a third-year Evening MBA student. The winning team, comprised of Garin Wedeking, Abhi Thinesh Rathinavelu, Michael Pamphlet, Brad Waidelich and Derek Zahajko, has shared what helped them succeed.

EveMBACaseCompWhat did you learn from the competition?
This felt like a round of “speed-dating” with our new group. It gave us an opportunity in a week’s time to identify team members’ strengths and quickly discover how to best work together. The best trait we share is that none of us needs to be in charge for any reason other than to get the project done. We have quickly learned how to let each other take the reins, as well as to give each other space and time at one’s discretion with the understanding that everyone is overbooked. It’s a fact of grad school.

What made your team successful?
We set early expectations of what we were going to do, and then each executed on our commitments. Those expectations were not equal in work load, but that didn’t matter. When you start keeping score you make room for excuses. To quote a teammate “All (five) of us should be pulling 25%.” The trick is actually doing that.

How could you apply what you learned in the competition to your job?
Since the case intentionally provided little detail, it forced our team to quickly and rationally make assumptions and move forward. We could have chosen to jump down rabbit holes in order to make real-world parallels, but we didn’t think that would create a better product in the end. This parallels the real-world in that sometimes time-sensitive situations or opportunities arise where rapid action is required and time is not available to acquire more data or more data may simply not exist.

Did it teach you to think about business issues in a different way?
Often times we have the inclination to think there is only one right answer. In this case, all three options could have been viable options for the company. It came down to the rationality behind the option and ultimately the ability to execute on the idea within the time frame. Parfait est l’ennemi du bon.

Learn more about the Evening MBA Program.

AOF High School students learn about foreign market strategy

AOF & GBCC EventThe University of Washington Foster School of Business’ flagship international event, the Global Business Case Competition (GBCC), brings together undergraduate university students from the United States and 12 – 14 other countries to compete in a fast-paced and challenging business case study. While GBCC week culminates with team presentations to corporate and community judges, it also serves as a forum for cross-cultural learning, and engages the student competitors as mentors for local high school students.

In 2008, we launched a partnership with the national Academy of Finance (AOF) program, which offers high school students an opportunity to study business topics to prepare them for college and their future careers.  Since then, over 500 high school students have come to campus to learn about global business strategy, presentation skills, study abroad, and international business and finance degree options and career opportunities.

This year’s AOF event brought students from three local high schools, Ballard High School, Chief Sealth High School, and Franklin High School, to the University of Washington campus for a full day workshop during GBCC week. During the workshop the AOF high school students were paired with undergraduate business students from around the world, and together they worked through several exercises focused on cultural understanding and developing global business strategy.

The university student participants mentored AOF students on how they approach difficult business cases, and what frameworks and tools they might use to breakdown an international business problem. The students spent part of the day working together on analyzing a case focused on The Boeing Company’s foreign market strategy, completing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses of Boeing’s opportunities in both Latin America and Africa. The students were tasked with determining which market Boeing should spend more resources trying to cultivate business.

In years past, the AOF and GBCC students have studied cases ranging from how Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group should handle piracy issues to examining the competitive landscape of Coca-cola and Pepsi over 100 years of rivalry to determining a marketing plan for a Mattel toy brand.

This partnership has resulted in a unique event each year that brings together a diverse group of high school students with university students from all over the world. The AOF students have the opportunity to learn about different culture and what it might be like to study international business in college. An AOF Board member shared that “getting this opportunity … broadens their experiences and offers insight into higher education opportunities.”

To learn more about the Global Business Case Competition and the Academy of Finance program, visit: www.foster.washington.edu/gbcc.

Special thank you to Wells Fargo for their generous support of this program.

GBCC 2013: champions analyze wine industry case

Winning Team, Concordia University
GBCC Champions, Concordia University

Saturday April 13th was an eventful day.  The Global Business Center hosted its 15th annual undergraduate Global Business Case Competition – where twelve teams representing ten different countries competed for the title of Champion.

Each of the GBCC teams spent 48 hours analyzing a business case on Frog’s Leap Winery, which is known for its commitment to sustainability.  The winery produces high quality wines using organically-grown grapes and was a leader in adopting an environmental management system for production. The teams, who are outside consultants, were asked to make recommendations in three areas:   (1) the next sustainability initiative that Frog’s Leap should undertake, (2) identification of two potential markets outside the US, and (3) marketing plans for those new markets.

After a competitive preliminary round, four teams were selected to move on to the final round: Concordia University, National University of Singapore, University of Arizona, and University of Hong Kong.  With over 100 people in attendance, the final round presentations were exciting to watch. In the end, the judges chose Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) as this year’s Champion.

Concordia University students had a four pronged strategy for Frog’s Leap Winery. They recommended that for Frog’s Leap to increase sales but remain small and committed to sustainability initiatives, they should take the following actions:

  • Increase presence in Japanese market following a product development strategy
  • Enter the Chinese market following a market penetration strategy
  • Use recycled bottles
  • Plan the succession processGBCC Group

We would like to acknowledge the hard work of our GBCC Student Leadership Team who spent countless hours organizing this big event. Nicole Winjum and Brandon Upton led their group of six student managers and over 30 volunteers to a successful 15th annual GBCC.

And finally, GBCC would not be possible without our major sponsors: The Boeing Company, Costco Wholesale, F5 Networks, Russell Investments, Starbucks Coffee International, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo.

For more information, visit: http://www.foster.washington.edu/gbcc

Student managers celebrate the 15th anniversary of GBCC

by Alex Brechner, GBCC Student Manager

2013 GBCC Student Managers
2013 GBCC Student Managers

It’s finally here! The 15th annual Global Business Case Competition (GBCC) started this week. Our GBCC
student management team
has been preparing for this competition since the fall; recruiting ambassadors, training volunteers, planning events, and preparing the teams. Our team is made up of eight Foster School students, and we are very excited for the final round presentations to take place this Saturday, April 13, at 2:00 pm in the Shansby Auditorium (Paccar Hall 192). Last Friday, I wrote about the history of the competition after interviewing some past competitors; today I’d like to share what is happening this year.

Monday night, students from around the world arrived in Seattle. Teams flew in from the Philippines, Singapore, Belgium, Spain, Mexico, Egypt, New Zealand, China, Canada, and Arizona. The GBCC Management Team has been keeping our visitors entertained – we toured the UW campus and visited Pike’s Place Market, worked with three local high schools on a short business case, and met with five companies: Amazon, Port of Seattle, Russell Investments, Tableau Software, and Zulily.

Lots of Foster School students also got a chance to talk with these talented international students last night at our Global Networking Night. There is still a great opportunity to meet these students – come watch the final round on Saturday! We want to make our visitors feel welcome, so come support them.

The business cases and student charge were passed out on Thursday, and presentations will take place after exactly 48 hours of analysis. Each school has its own team, but GBCC offers a unique twist: the 12th team, called the Global Team, is composed of four members from four different schools. These students have only one week to get to know each other, and they are up against teams whose members have been working together for months. Against all odds, the Global Team has found success in the past by drawing on their diverse backgrounds. We wish all of this year’s teams the best of luck.

Every year, GBCC brings students from all types of cultures and backgrounds together for an incredibly rewarding experience. The GBCC management team has worked hard to make sure that this is a week that everyone – from the volunteers to the competitors to those who just want to stop in and take a peek – will not soon forget. We are excited to bring the world to UW for the 15th year in a row!

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.

Apple products in cars?

On March 8, 2013 Foster undergraduate students competed in a case competition, which also served as the students’ capstone experience for strategic management—a required course for all Foster undergraduates. The case, “Apple Inc. in 2012,” was developed by Harvard Business School. The premise: Apple, like other firms in technology, has a number of successful products, but they also need to remain competitive. The students had to determine whether Apple can innovate on current products well enough to survive and prosper or whether they need to create new products to remain competitive.

The students had two weeks to analyze the case and develop their recommendations for what Apple should do. In the competition the students presented their analysis of the company, discussed the various paths Apple could take and made their recommendations.

Twenty teams competed and five made it to the final round. The final round teams made varying recommendations for Apple. Several suggested Apple should improve Apple TV, one of its current products. The winning team, however, presented a completely different solution. They recommended Apple create an integrated mobile device for cars, similar to the Ford SYNC® from Microsoft.

Case Competition Winners
Winning team: Shaun Maurer, Cory Scancella, Alex Auerbach, Hadis Ali, and Ben Peven

According to the team, “We compared the various strategies and decided the car system strengthens what Apple already offers, and it stays within one of their core competencies, which is producing disruptive technology. The problem with TV isn’t the set-top box, it’s that the cable companies own all the content.”  They felt Toyota would be an ideal initial partner due to shared corporate values between the two companies. The judges appreciated the team’s comprehensive analysis. Jeff Barden, assistant professor of management said, “They carefully considered the user experience, where people would use the product, and absolutely picked the right partner in Toyota.” Winning team members were Hadis Ali, Alex Auerbach, Shaun Maurer, Ben Peven, and Cory Scancella.

The second place team recommended innovating on Apple TV by focusing on making content available to consumers by forming a strategic alliance with Comcast. They felt a key improvement to the current situation would be to allow customers to consume TV content à la carte. The judges were impressed with how this team tailored their solution to the market. Team members were Gwendolyn Moruzzi, Aaron Dentler, Katie Emoto, and Rachna Hajari.

Rick McPherson, lecturer in management at the Foster School, added the case competition to the strategic management course last fall. He said, “It is an enrichment of the course to give the students real life experiences of analyzing and making recommendations to an upper management team.”

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!”