Reflections on the 2020 Trans-Tasman Online Case Competition

By Cher Guo

A team of four Bachelor of Commerce students from the University of Melbourne came first in the Online International Case Competition amongst 3 other universities, including University of Otago, University of Auckland, and University of New South Wales.

This year, the Trans-Tasman case competition took place on the 26th July, all teams had 5 hours to prepare. A team of four University of Melbourne students comprising Brielle Frichitthavong, Giovanni Colarossi, Lachlan Iape and Karmil Nguyen took the crown in the Trans-Tasman Case Competition. As the case competition was delivered virtually, how has this tweaked their teamwork experience? We spoke with Brielle, Giovanni and Lachlan to find out more.

‘Working together virtually was definitely a new experience for me. The biggest noticeable difference for me was the lack of consistent personal interaction that occurs in an in-person competition. It’s typical to often check-in, converse, say things randomly in the case room and so in-person case comps tend to have a lot of background noise. While this could be considered distracting, it creates a feeling of comfort knowing that you are all working hard together. Yet in the virtual competition, there was a clear difference in the environment; the background noise of members busily making slides or quickly eating was substituted with periods of silence (from muted mics). I think we all realised this and started talking more and turning on our mics towards the end of the case. The periods of silence definitely made us more efficient with our work, I was able to listen to some music whilst pumping out a few slides. But the periods of chatter made me feel like I was with them in person, which is quite a comforting feeling,’ says Brielle.

A screenshot of the pitch presentation
The team's pitch presentation.

The virtual setting of the case competition gave the team a brand new experience. They identified that essential to success is an ability to communicate effectively amongst themselves, and to manage their time, as addressed by Lachlan and Giovanni.

‘Throughout the five hours of the competition, it was crucial to ensure that we were constantly communicating and checking in with one another. Zoom allowed us to be in contact for the entirety of preparation, while Sharepoint allowed us to keep an eye on what other members of the team were doing,’ says Lachlan.

‘One of the fundamental skills ingrained into us by the International Case Competitions program is being able to solve complex problems in short amounts of time and coordinate seamlessly as a team – a skill we used to overcome the limitations of preparing a case in a completely virtual setting. Ultimately, we were able to translate the same productivity and cooperation we'd used to previously prepare cases together in a room, to a virtual environment,’ says Giovanni.

The team also outlined several highlights of their experience, and a positive outlook on the future of online competitions.

The Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) equips students with the skills and knowledge to understand and solve key business challenges. Make a difference to society, policy, and organisations while forging a pathway to a global career. Choose from majors including Accounting, Actuarial Studies, Economics, Finance, Management and Marketing.

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‘This competition highlights the potential for future global case competitions to also be held online. It’s a really exciting avenue for students to connect from institutions all across the globe, in competitions and formats they may not have been able to previously,’ says Lachlan

and ‘it was great to be able to have fun cracking a case with fellow BCom students, and finally it was great to know that case competitions can still prosper even in the current environment, and that the University of Melbourne can maintain its excellent reputation and status on the global case competition circuit,’ says Giovanni.

Congratulations to the team on their win, and all they learned from their remarkable experience.