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Battle of the briefcases

by Shereen Ahmed Rafea January 10, 2012
Battle of the briefcases

Future MBAs mingling and making connections. Photo by Camille Nerant

After six days of debating and deliberating, Université Laval has come out on top in the 31st annual John Molson School of Business MBA International Case Competition, winning $10,000 in cash and the Concordia Cup.

The winning teams were announced at a banquet on Sunday at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel, second place going to New Zealand’s University of Otago while the University of Calgary took home bronze.

The competition ran from Jan. 3 to Jan. 8 and included 36 teams from universities in North America and overseas. The diverse group of students fit with this year’s theme: “How does diversity stimulate innovation?”

“I think the thing about this competition that’s exciting is to be able to meet and network with people from all over the world and share ideas… at one location over the week,” said Tim Field, management professor at Concordia and the coach for the JMSB team. “I can’t tell you how many times in a lifetime you are going to have that,” he added.

In teams of four, students are given complex business cases to analyze and then have three hours to work on them before presenting their recommendations to a panel. According to Field, the type cases given vary from financial to marketing to international to general strategy. With six divisions, the top teams advance to the semi-finals.

An anticipated part of the competition was the live case on Jan. 6 in which real-life business company CGI presented the students with challenges that the company is facing. The teams then present ideas and solutions to the company in the next couple of hours.

“It becomes very intense,” said Jason Lau, one of the executive assistants who worked with the organizing team. Lau describes the atmosphere this year as “very competitive.”

“They absolutely want to win,” he said, referring to the 36 teams who come to Montreal from across the globe to participate in the competition. “From their school they sent people who want it the most and are the best.”

The competition takes about six months to organize. A team of four organizers and five executive assistants, all MBA students at JMSB, put together the event. The students receive academic credit for their work.

“The contribution, time and effort is enormous,” said Lau.

Along with networking and training, students also learn how to think under stress. “They get that pressure cooker environment,”  said Field. “They are exposed to a lot of industries and problems and it’s really the one step away from living and breathing the actual issues the company is facing.”


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