Student Life

Beyond the business benefits of JMUCC

Non-business students attending Case Competition walk away inspired

While you need to be a business student to join the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC), you do not have to be a business student to reap the benefits it has to offer.

Last week, 24 universities from around the world came to the 11th edition of the JMUCC. During the competition, teams of four are presented with a real case from a local business where, in three hours, they must identify a problem and create an action plan how they intend to solve it. Contestants must present their ideas through a PowerPoint presentation to a panel of judges in 20 minutes, after which they will face a 10-minute question period. Teams did this three times from Feb. 25 to 27, and then completed a 24-hour long business case on Saturday. The event is open to the public to watch for free or live online. Students from all business disciplines are allowed to compete—but what about non-business students?

“This whole experience is about not just cracking a case, but it’s also about how you develop that business thinking that’s so crucial and so important to all the programs that people are studying,” said Kawish Lakhani, a tech volunteer for the event.

The John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC) was held at Hotel Bonaventure at 900 Rue de la Gauchetière from Feb. 25 to 27, with the final day on March 2. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

During presentations, guests witness how teams have worked together by putting forward their individual skill sets. Students can learn valuable presentation skills like voice projection, concise phrasing and developing unique presentation styles. Most importantly, students can learn to have fun while developing new skills; a mix many students deem impossible when presenting. Seham Allison, a contestant for Concordia, did just that by laughing with the judges at her tongue-tied moment when she tried to say the word “compensation.”  As an added bonus, with the 10-minute question period, students can see how participants think quickly on their feet—a skill they can use for future job interviews.

Concordia contestant Mathieu Kost brought up a different point of view. He expressed the limitations for non-business students visiting the event, as they do not have access to read the cases beforehand and therefore would not be able to understand and learn fully. However, he did mention that there are benefits for students who own businesses as they could learn “tangible actions that don’t cost too much money […] and then replicate that specific piece of recommendation in their business.”

For those who wish to travel or pursue careers elsewhere, they must know beforehand that every culture thinks differently, especially in a work setting. Students participating in the competition come from Canada, the United States, China, England, Ireland and more. “You can see there’s a cultural difference in how we look at issues, how we solve problems, what we prioritize as a primary issue,” said John Fragos, a member of the Concordia team.

“You can bond with a bunch of JMSB students that you wouldn’t necessarily get to meet if it weren’t for JMUCC, and meet people from all around the world,” said Julia Wheeler, the VP of logistics for the event. Due to the large amount of international students present, an extensive list of companies sponsor the event, such as RBC, CN, Ardene and IBM, to name a few. Students can make connections that can help them in their personal or business-related endeavors.

“It’s inspirational,” said Kevin Phok, a member of the Concordia team. At JMUCC, students from all domains can be inspired and educated. These professional skill sets can be applied to their own lives since, after all, when you’re an entrepreneur, everything is a business opportunity.

Student Life

JMSB hosts largest and most highly respected student-run competition

Last week marked the annual John Molson MBA Case Competition, a flagship event that involves over 350 volunteers, 270 local business

Press photo

executives and 200 MBA candidates from around the globe. Behind the scenes were organizers and JMSB students, Bita Sehat, Leila Mosalaeepour, Hanaa Badaoui and Elliott Atlilia. The Concordian got an inside look at what this competition is all about as each of the organizers explain how it gets put together.


What is the Case Competition?

Sehat: The John Molson MBA International Case Competition was created in 1981 and is currently the oldest, largest and most international competition in the world. It is a robin-round format where teams of four MBA candidates are given three hours to solve a business case that they have never seen before. They then have twenty-five minutes to present their solutions to a panel of judges selected from local executives. Thirty-six teams from thirteen countries participated this year and competed to win the Concordia Cup and a cash prize of $10,000.


Why is it an important event for Concordia?

Mosalaeepour: It is a first-class event where talented students from prestigious business schools meet and compete is a unique environment.


How did you get involved?

Badaoui: I was a lead volunteer at the competition last year and it was a stimulating and rewarding experience that pushed me to be the hands-on organizer.

Atilia: I heard so much about the competition before starting the program that I wanted to get involved. After meeting several classmates who organized in previous years, I decided that I would take advantage and be part of such a unique opportunity.

Sehat:  I volunteered last year at a team host event before attending my first class at JMSB. So it was clear to me that I found my calling in becoming an organizer.

Mosalaeepour: The competition is the oldest of it’s kind; it was an honor to be part of this legacy. It is also an unmatched learning experience that can’t be taught in any classroom. That was why I joined.


How much or your time and sweat went into organizing this event?

Badaoui: It took nine months of planning and the workload was 65-80 hours a week. The four of us worked by ourselves from March until September then five executive assistants joined our team in September to help finalize the event that took place Jan. 5-10. It was very stressful and rewarding at the same time since it is entirely a student-run event.


How does an event like this benefit students?

Mosalaeepour: The students get an unparalleled opportunity to network with local executives, connect with other students from around the world, and observe the case competition format in a lively manner.


Anything particularly interesting or special happen at this year’s event? Any important people in attendance?

Atilia: The highlight of the competition was the live case that was presented on Jan. 8 by The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada and current UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti. Mrs. Jean was joined by Mr. Rene Jean-Jumeau , the minister of energy in Haiti to present a live case about the energy crisis in Haiti.


It’s a competition, so who won? What do they win?

Mosalaeepour: The 3 winners are as follows:

1st place:  University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management (USA).

They won the Concordia Cup and a cash prize of $10,000.

2nd place:  University of South Carolina – Moore School of Business (USA).

They won a cash prize of $7,000.

3rd place: University of Kaiserslautern

They won a cash prize of $5,000.


Was organizing this event all worth it?

Mosalaeepour: Yes absolutely! We gained friends and contacts from over 13 countries. We learned how to plan meticulously and at the same time act momentarily to ensure that all stakeholders have an unforgettable experience.

Badaoui: It is by far the best experience we had at JMSB!


Final thoughts on your experience?

Sehat:  It is a strong commitment that translated into an unprecedented success and remarkable support from the Montreal business community.



Engineers and commerce students team up

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Organized by Concordia students, the Engineering and Commerce Case Competition is the first of its kind in Canada. It is scheduled to take place at the university from March 12 to 16, 2014.

This global case competition combines the strengths of engineering and business students in simulating a real world product development scenario. Emphasis is placed on bridging the communication gap between the two disciplines.

“The aim of the competition is to break barriers in the industry from a communication perspective,” said ECCC president and engineering student Emran Ghasemi. “We’re enhancing the communication channel between the two faculties and making one thought process look at things from the other’s perspective.”

Ghasemi explained teaching communication skills, which students will need after graduating, is not part of the curriculum for Concordia’s engineering programs. The ECCC Organizing Committee believes this competition will help students develop the skills they’ll need in the industry.

“Most of the time, the problems in businesses is communication,” he explained.

A competing team from a given university will consist of two engineering students, two commerce students and a professor who will act as their coach.

The ECCC Committee will select 12 universities from those that apply by Oct. 31; Canadian universities that have already applied include McGill, Université Laval and the University of Waterloo.

Students participating will get the chance to work with corporations in a networking scenario and create connections. The ECCC is looking for corporate partners for the first year of the competition, which would help lead to career opportunities for students and recruitment possibilities for corporations.

While the Committee anticipates mostly Canadian universities at the first competition, they’re gaining international interest.

“Last week, we surprisingly had an email from a university in Prague that wanted to get involved,” said Ghasemi.

Ghasemi and his friend thought up the idea for the ECCC in the summer of 2012, wondering why these two disciplines haven’t collaborated before for a case competition.

“We thought about collaborating engineering and commerce together considering they’ll be working together when they graduate anyway,” he said.

The Committee is made up of engineering and business students, including industrial engineers, electrical engineers, marketing students, international business students and management students.

“The opportunity is there so we just want to capitalize on it,” said Ghasemi of the committee’s plans for the competition to take place annually.


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