International Case Competition Reflection

By Samuel Roussos and Chelsea Gardner

Hear from BCom students Samuel Roussos and Chelsea Gardner about their experience of the International Case Competition (ICC).

In the midst of lockdowns, the International Case Competition (ICC) program brought together 12 of the Faculty of Business and Economics’s brightest students to compete on the global stage. Case competitions task students with providing solutions to real-world business problems in cases ranging from 4-24 hours, which are then presented to academics and members from industry.

While traditionally held in person, a global pandemic was not going to stop this year’s cohort as they adapted to an online format of training and competition, with much of that success being attributed to the efforts of the Faculty and wonderful co-chairs – and former participants themselves – Finn Cole-Adams and Ally Fisher.

From competitions in Alberta (Canada) and Budapest (Hungary), to Australia and New Zealand, the cohort battled time zone differences and temperamental Zoom connections to have what participant Julian Ou labelled a ‘deeply rewarding and unforgettable experience’.

Group photo
Social Night with ICC Cohort (L – R): Jacqui Liow, Chloe Lau, Samuel Roussos, Angus Kennedy, Oscar To, Janice Gu

The journey began with an extensive training schedule that saw the cohort learn invaluable skills ranging from financial modelling to strategy development and slide deck creation. With a proud history spanning more than two decades, the ICC program boasts an alumni network of more than 200 past students working all around the globe, who were called upon, along with academics and industry representatives, to deliver rich and insightful training sessions.

Each team was fortunate to be paired with an ex-ICC alumni mentor to guide them through practice cases each week, providing dynamic feedback and support. Starting with limited knowledge of case competitions in December, the cohort was ready to take on some of the world’s best universities in the space of merely two months. Reflecting on the training, participant Chloe Lau went on to say that ‘being able to deep-dive into specific markets or businesses each week was exceptionally interesting and proved to be an unparalleled opportunity for learning’.

The Virtual International Case Competition Summer Series (VICCSS) was the case competition debut, seeing the entire cohort compete in a head-to-head round-robin style case-solving series with the University of Queensland, the University of Auckland, and UNSW Sydney.

The first round of the series was hosted by none other than the University of Melbourne, with teams tasked with a 24-hour case which challenged them to assist Melbourne-based technology club for young people with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome, The Lab, to develop a strategy to engage their student base. After presenting their solution to the case partner and various academics and industry professionals around the country, the 2021 ICC cohort came out with their first win. This set the tone for what turned out to be a very successful case competition journey, with the cohort winning the next three rounds, and subsequently the entire VICCSS series.

In March, from the comfort of their respective lounge rooms, Samuel Roussos, Julian Ou, Maggie Zhou and Janice Gu travelled to Canada to participate in the University of Alberta Not-for-Profit Case Competition. The team were afforded the chance to connect with like-minded students from all around the world before receiving a 24-hour case. They were tasked with assisting the Canadian AIESEC national branch to weather the effects of COVID-19 whilst also expanding their services. The team’s solution saw them win the competition, along with two best speaker awards for Samuel and Julian.

The final competition, attended by Chelsea Gardner, Keogh Dowling, Stephanie Burgess and Oscar To, was the Central European Case Competition (CECC), which connected students from America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Hosted by Corvinus University in Budapest, the competition challenged students to solve two cases over a 6-hour and 24-hour time frame. The 6-hour ‘Yuspify’ case tasked students with creating a go-to-market strategy for the company’s cloud-based personalisation engine solution for SMEs, with the team placing first. Although the team did not win the 24-hour case, they placed second in their heats, resulting in a strong finish to a long and rewarding ICC journey for the cohort.

Despite the implications of COVID, it did not diminish the value of a truly unforgettable experience, and that is purely testament to the amazing support the cohort was given. Beyond the plethora of consulting skills developed during the summer, the cohort walked away with something of equal, if not greater value. As Julian Ou outlined:

“One other facet of the program that I really valued was the amazing people I met and the friendships I formed through the ICC program. I guarantee that you'll come out of the ICC program with improved business acumen, more confidence and a bunch of lifelong friends.”

No matter the format, ICC presents Bachelor of Commerce students with an invaluable opportunity to not only develop their own skills, but also lifelong friendships, and the entire cohort would strongly encourage everyone to apply.