Singapore’s Nanyang Business School wins first place
Through rain and snow, John Molson has played host to the International Case Competition (ICC) for 34 years. This year’s event was no different in persistence, but it was bigger, and it was better.
“In the MBA circuit competitions, it is the oldest, the biggest, and the most interesting in the world. It is one of the most cherished events of Concordia, at least on the international forum.” said Marketing and Sponsorship organizer/volunteer and JMSB student Roberto Blanc.
“Most importantly it allows us to develop our soft skills that don’t necessarily come in class: our public presentation skills, our speaking skills.”
“It provides an out-of-class experience,” he said, explaining how he along with his team were put in charge of organizing everything from the ground up: the funding, logistics, cost management, and scheduling. It was an immense competition with hundreds of participants and onlookers. The amount of planning involved means that arrangements for this competition started pretty much after the last one ended. Advisors helped and gave strategic support and vision, acting as executives would for an actual company. A board of governors that has stayed constant throughout the years essentially acted as a BoG of a corporation. Blanc said their mentoring gave organizers the motivation and confidence to deal with the immense amounts of pressure riding on their shoulders.
The ICC’s main leverage in terms of recovering some of their costs came from the chance for sponsors to observe the huge pool of talent showcased—talent that companies at home and abroad were very keen on assessing and courting.
“They [the international schools] consider this the Olympics of international case competitions.” For a full week, teams drilled or competed day and night in round robins, which winnowed out the participants and pushed onward the best, while banquets and cocktails gave them the platform to network.
“For the past few days, my email accounts and my Facebook and my LinkedIn have been boiling,” said Blanc.
This year’s theme was sustainability and all the case competitions dealt with it in one way or another. Blanc’s team took the message to heart. Every single decision the organizers took was built on it: from picking up the delegations in zero-emission cars and using biodegradable printer ink, to organizing banquets made exclusively of organic and local food sourced whenever possible from co-ops. They hope the efforts will push the ICC to a level four sustainability certificate from the Quebec government.
“We wanted to show that sustainability was more than a word, more than something that is in fashion,” said Blanc.
The event has also given him insight into the different approaches to business taken by different cultures. Asian teams, more often than not, emphasized teamwork and low-key comportment—though Singapore stood out in that regard, being more individualistic and heterogeneous as befitting an entrepreneurial and multicultural nation-state (Singapore went undefeated in every case competition and ended up winning the ICC). Germans were generally over-prepared, with larger support teams, while Finns cared as much about the social aspect as the competition. Then there were delegations like South Africa and the Netherlands which managed to stay happy and joyful throughout.
“To me, it was one of the best, if not the best, experiences I got from my MBA,” said Blanc.
1st place: Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore – $10,000 prize
2nd place: Porto School of Business, University of Porto, Portugal – $7,000 prize
3rd place: Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, United States – $5,000 prize
Richard Outcault Team Spirit Award for enthusiasm and involvement: Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa
JMSB made it to the semifinals but ultimately lost to the Porto School of Business.