Twenty teams of university students will show off their business skills when they compete in the 11th annual Royal Roads University International Undergraduate Case Competition, to be held April 4-6. This year, the competition includes teams from Singapore and Norway, the first time schools from outside North America have participated. Other attendees include teams from Brock, Simon Fraser, Concordia, University of Alberta, and UPEI, as well as U.S. teams from Washington, Indiana, Florida, Minnesota and South Carolina.
“The fact that teams will travel significant distances to participate indicates how much respect other universities have for the quality of judging and the challenge of the cases presented here,” said Pedro Márquez, dean of the Faculty of Management at RRU. “The 2013 event promises to be a highlight for our students and the visitors.”
Every team analyzes three cases – two published ones and one live (unpublished) case involving a local company. Then they have three hours to work on each case, develop a strategy and a detailed action plan to tackle the problems presented, and create a dynamic presentation for the panel of judges.
The intent of the competition is to help undergraduate business students develop analytical and critical thinking skills and reinforce teamwork and communications. “We want to promote the most important skills students need to go out in the world, and to showcase them,” said RRU coach Don Caplan, whose teams attend other case competitions at Concordia University and Simon Fraser as well as RRU’s own event. “They are skills most universities don’t necessarily teach.”
RRU’s case competition has built a reputation that keeps universities coming back. “It is one of the highlights of the year for our students,” said Pat DeMouy, coach for the University of South Carolina, whose teams have won the RRU competition three of the four times they have attended. “The quality of the cases and the judging panels are exceptional.” The weather is an attraction as well, says DeMouy. “Is there any place else in the world that you would like to be at the end of March or early April than Victoria?”
DeMouy said the annual “live” case about a local company is very challenging. “The human element in the decision process is something that is rare in business school cases,” he said. “If you have an internship or a longer time to get to know the culture of the company, your decisions are easier, but gleaning an understanding of the culture and feel of a company in three hours is very difficult.”
Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business has sent a team regularly since 2004, making it to the podium twice. “I love the event and bring teams because it is competitive yet laid back,” said team advisor Mark Haber.
Running the competition is a learning experience as well for its student organizers. RRU’s bachelor of commerce students organize the case competition as a component of their curriculum. Their studies also include analyzing their own live case, and competing in a mini-case competition.