Tag Archives: case competition

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!”

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.

Foster team wins national KPMG ALPFA Competition

Foster Team Wins National KPMG ALPFA Competition On August 13 and 14 in Las Vegas, an undergraduate accounting team from the UW Foster School of Business won the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA) national case competition.

Sponsored by KPMG, the invitation only competition selects teams from 24 schools around the country to analyze specific public companies and present on key accounting policies, strategies and risks, and provide recommendations to help mitigate the firms’ risks.

The Foster team analyzed Tyson Foods, a public company headquartered in Arkansas. They worked throughout spring quarter analyzing and researching Tyson’s financial position. Foster’s team consisted of seniors Sonia Gorski and Ana Mendez and juniors Anthony Escobar and Gideon Vasquez.

“Our Foster team gave an extremely impressive presentation to the mock audit committee from KPMG,” says faculty adviser Patricia Angell, who coached the students. “Any firm would be honored to be represented by these polished professionals.”

The team was also supported by the local ALPFA chapter and KPMG managers Mark Turley and Lakshmi Kuduganti.

Foster students win 2012 international marketing case competition

On March 3, 2012, an undergraduate case competition team from the University of Washington Foster School of Business won the Intercollegiate Marketing Competition held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Eight teams were tasked with developing a marketing plan for Zajak Ranch, a non-profit summer camp for disabled children.

Looking to become financially self-sustaining while attracting the next generation of donors and corporate sponsors, the camp had asked students to find ways to increase revenues during the winter months while also signing reoccurring monthly donors in the younger demographic. Teams were given only three hours to deliberate, design a full presentation and practice before immediately giving a 20-minute presentation with 15 minutes of Q&A. Only four teams would then move on to the final round where they would present in front of a panel of judges consisting of marketing professionals, members of the camp’s management, as well as the managing member of the Zajak family.

Foster’s team consisted of Allen Kuceba, Alex Diaz and Caitlin Snaring, all members of the American Marketing Association student organization. Kuceba is a senior with a focus in finance and entrepreneurship, Diaz is a senior focused on marketing and communications and Snaring is a junior focused on marketing and accounting. The three were selected from a pool of applicants from the UW American Marketing Association.

“I am extremely proud of this team. They worked hard practicing case analysis and presentation skills. With only three hours to prepare, they demonstrated the ability to critically analyze a business problem and develop a viable solution,” says faculty advisor Leta Beard, who coached the students.

Foster team wins national minority MBA case competition

An MBA team from the University of Washington Foster School Business and Economic Development Center took first place at the 2012 National Minority MBA Case Competition held at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.

The team of first-year Evening MBA students, Brent Bauslaugh, Ben Lapekas, Ksenia Karpisheva and Rakesh Saini, beat out teams from 18 other business schools from around the US including University of California Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon, Indiana University and Boston College. The grand prize for Foster’s Evening MBA students? $7,500. Additionally, Lapekas was recognized as the best presenter and Bauslaugh won first place for best question and answer session.

All 18 competing teams had 20 minutes to provide a solution to a case dealing with strategic choices for third party commercial loan servicing business at Key Bank. “Our students’ ability to handle ambiguity of the case and yet provide firm recommendations backed up with hard data were ultimately what differentiated them from the rest,” says team advisor Geraldine Rodriguez, assistant director at the UW Business and Economic Development Center.

EJ Burke, Key Bank’s head of real estate capital and corporate banking services adds, “The University of Washington team’s presentation represented a thorough understanding of a very complex and difficult case. Their recommended solutions were actionable and thought provoking.”

A team from the UW Business and Economic Development Center has placed in the top three teams nationally for the past four years for this diversity competition.

Each fall, the Business and Economic Development Center hosts a UW Foster School of Business internal Diversity in Business Case Competition in order to select the team of MBA students who represents Foster at the national competition.

Canada wins 2011 Global Business Case Competition

GBCC2011April 16, 2011 was an eventful day as the Global Business Case Competition hosted its 13th annual undergraduate case competition.  We were proud to host the entire competition in Foster’s new building and show off our new state-of-the-art home to visiting teams.

Each of the twelve Global Business Case Competition teams presented their analysis on how to make a water purification business in Tanzania profitable and how to expand the business to other African cities.  After a competitive preliminary round, four teams were selected to move on to the final round: University of Washington, Western Ontario University (Canada), Thammasat University (Thailand) and the University of Auckland (New Zealand).

With over 200 people from around the world in attendance, the final round of presentations was exciting to watch. In the end, judges chose University of Western Ontario (Ivey School of Business) as this year’s champion.

Congratulations to Foster School students on the University of Washington team for landing a spot in the final round: Kyle Bartlow, Jessica Henrawidjaja, Venkat Rao, and Melanie.

Foster MBAs win corporate growth case competition

Four MBA students from the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business won the international finals of the Associate for Corporate Growth (ACG) case competition, March 21 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The event was designed to give MBAs valuable insights into mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, financial advisory and private equity. The Foster School team—Nick Casaril, Erick Rendon, Rhett Baldwin and Robert Belcher—presented the most compelling strategic advice on a realistic merger and acquisition case. In the simulation, the team advised a private equity group on whether a potential acquisition was a good value, and at what price, and how best to structure a deal that would be acceptable to both buyers and sellers.

Competition included Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, Whitworth University and University of Calgary, with the Foster School clearly best in show. Said judge Luke Fouke, senior vice president of Seattle-based Net Lease Holdings: “The level of analysis and thought-provoking recommendations that the students presented really goes to show the excellence of the Foster School of Business’ curriculum.”

The victory earned the team the first International AGC Cup, a prize of $10,000 Canadian, and the proverbial much, much more.

“The entire competition was an enriching experience that provided great insight to some of the activities and challenges that actual practitioners of the craft face in the real world,” said Casaril. “Everything from analyzing and crafting the deal to the ‘bake-off’ at the end to sell the deal was incredibly engaging. I know I learned an incredible amount that will be immensely valuable as I embark on my future career.”

Big weekend: Foster School brings home three case competition victories

Student teams representing the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business won three separate case competitions—in Montreal, Cleveland and Washington, DC—on the same day this past weekend, Saturday, February 28.

KeyBank-Ohio State University Minority Case CompetitionA team of Foster MBAs triumphed at the KeyBank-Ohio State University Minority Case Competition in Cleveland. Evening MBAs Bryan Tomlinson and Rina Sarkar and full-time MBAs Hakim Jones and Kathleen August delivered the most compelling plan to increase KeyBank’s market share in the small business banking market, and added a set of tactics to empower managers to implement this plan. In doing so, they outwitted teams from the University of Chicago, Indiana University, Ohio State, Yale, Carnegie Mellon and 15 other top business schools. August was awarded “Best Presenter” for the competition. Jones won “Best Q&A” honors.

“This is another wonderful demonstration of the Foster MBA model—great students, talented faculty, and a curriculum designed to offer transformative experiences in strategic thinking and leadership,” said Dan Turner, associate dean for masters programs and executive education. “It all adds up to innovative, strategic solutions for businesses facing complex, unstructured, real world-problems.”

Hilltop Business Strategy ChallengeUndergraduates from the Foster School took top honors at the Business Strategy Challenge at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The team of Ray Phua, Olivia Miasik, Stephanie Payne and Rikki Johnson weighed an unconventional not-for-profit case, stretching their knowledge of business strategy into a new arena. The conundrum was how best to guide the United Way through the economic crisis. The Foster team’s solution: form partnerships with healthy, like-minded organizations such as the Gates Foundation in the short-term and reorganize internally to better influence legislation for the long-term. The top-flight competition—including Georgetown, USC, New York University, Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon—couldn’t match the Foster team.

“The fact that we had the opportunity to present our recommendations to actual representatives of United Way and know that what we proposed would be considered seriously and possibly be implemented was all the more motivating and very gratifying in the end,” said Miasik, a senior studying accounting and international business at the Foster School. “I think our great team dynamic was key to formulating a successful deliverable for United Way.”

John Molson Undergraduate Case CompetitionAnother team of Foster undergrads won the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. The Molson competition was as much a test of stamina as of strategy. The Foster team–Vanessa Lopez, Derrick Nation, Eric Appesland and Susan Dugal (named “Best Presenter” for the competition)—gamely navigated three introductory lightning-round cases that had to be analyzed without the aid of the Internet or any notes, books or other reference materials. The final round was a more traditional, 24-hour “live” case involving the future plans for Montreal’s working waterfront. The Foster team recommended moving shipping facilities to a new, larger site to increase capacity, while turning the Old Port into an elaborate draw for tourism.

This solution, complete with an artist’s rendition of the “new” Old Port, distanced the Foster team from a world-class field representing universities in Canada, China, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore and the United States. “Our team was complimented on their strategy and performance,” said Jennifer Kitchen, coordinator of student development at the Foster School. “The panel of judges included the director of operations for the Montreal Port Authority who said that he would have no reservations about bringing our team’s recommendations and implementation plan to his board of directors. That’s high praise.”