Reflections on the 2020 International Case Competition

By Will Brown

Will Brown competed in the Heavener International Case Competition in Gainsville, Florida, in February. Here, he gives us his reflections on the International Case Competition program.

The International Case Competition Program (ICC) affords 20 Bachelor of Commerce students the opportunity to travel around the globe to compete against top international universities through solving practical business problems. At these events, students are tasked with solving cases that range from 3-28 hours in length and presenting their solutions to executives of multinational corporations and academics.

In 2020, the Faculty’s best and brightest had the opportunity to compete at the University of Florida (US), the IE Business School (Spain), the John Molson School of Business (Canada), the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary) albeit in an online format.

Before travelling to their designated competitions, students first had to undertake a rigorous yet rewarding training program. Teams were all assigned an ex-ICC mentor who was responsible for helping teams develop problem-solving strategies and internal chemistry. These mentors had a diverse range of experiences, with many currently working at some of the top global consultancies.

The training program took place over summer and was split into two major components, interactive skills workshops and weekly practise cases. The workshops were run by a range of ex-ICC competitors, industry professionals, and alumni, covering topics such as strategy development, technology implementation, financial analysis, marketing, and PowerPoint slide creation.

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Heavener Case Comp Team
Team Florida at the Heavener Case Competition.

A new practise case was solved each week and students were tasked with a diverse range of problems, constructing market entry strategies one week and corporate responsibility strategies the next. The most valuable portion of the training program came at the end of each presentation where teams received tailored feedback from judges. Team Segovia noted that the honest and specific feedback received each week pushed them ‘to improve significantly in subsequent weeks.’

Team Florida was the first team to fly out and competed at the University of Florida’s Heavener International Case Competition (HICC) in February.  Team Florida, consisting of Karmil Nguyen, Katrina Lee, Bobby Zhou, and William Brown, were also joined on their trip by Jennifer Grafton, a University of Melbourne Associate Dean. At the HICC, Team Florida competed against 18 other international teams, solving two cases in which we were able to take home first place.

The HICC took place over a week and featured a packed schedule that involved numerous social events, a trip to Orlando’s Universal Studios, but most importantly the two business cases. The first case was a technology innovation case set by Northrup Grumman, an aerospace defence manufacturer, whilst the second case, centred around the construction of a 5-year growth strategy, was set by Tech Data, the world’s second-largest technology distributor

A distinct highlight of Team Florida’s experience was the opportunity to build long-lasting friendships with students from all over the globe. The presence of ‘ambassadors’ particularly stood out to Team Florida. These ambassadors were current University of Florida students, who worked closely with their assigned teams to serve as guides and assist with travel. This was extremely helpful as it gave Team Florida the chance to learn about life at the University of Florida directly from current students.

Team Segovia was the second team to leave for their competition, commenting that ‘the training placed us well to compete in the competition, with similar practise cases providing us with both problem-solving skills and confidence in presentation.’ Team Segovia also found the social side of the competition to be extremely enjoyable and were able to take home the competition’s social award.

Congratulations also goes to the team competing at the University of British Columbia, who secured third placing in the Sauder International Case Competition, Vancouver.

The final team scheduled to compete was Team Budapest, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were unable to travel to Hungary and instead competed through on online format. Despite these new and unforeseen circumstances, Team Budapest performed exceptionally well, noting that they ‘worked beautifully together over Zoom’ and were ‘effective and supportive to one another.’ Team Budapest also said ‘If we could, we would build a bridge to the past and relive the entire experience again.’

When reflecting on the overall ICC experience, Dom Holden (participant, IE Business School, Spain)  said ‘the ICC program has enabled me to improve my technical and professional skillset, whilst providing incredible opportunities for interpersonal growth.’ Team Montreal also commented that the undisputed highlight of their ICC experience was the bonds they built with other teams during training and the social culture which was fostered.

The ICC program is an amazing opportunity for Bachelor of Commerce students to travel the globe, build professional skills, and develop life-long friendships.