Business students go head to head in competition

March 16, 2011
Amy Dove

From idea to action plan, students are dissecting business cases and offering solutions this week as part of the 9th annual Royal Roads University International Undergraduate Case Competition.

Bachelor of Commerce students, representing schools from throughout North America, are on campus March 17 to 19 vying to be the top team. Set up as a round-robin tournament, the case competition challenges students to think creatively, and quickly, about business solutions based on real case studies that they have three hours to review. They have 20 minutes to present their plans and are then expected to handle questions from the judges, a group made up of more than 50 local executives and business owners.

While the timing of the contest might be tight, the competition isn't far removed from reality, said Chris Jones, a judge and associate faculty member in the Royal Roads MBA and MA in Leadership program. The chance to analyze a case and promptly present attractive options to someone is a pretty good and realistic opportunity, added the consultant with STRATEGYLink Consulting.

"All of the factors are there," said Gregg Stewart, vice president of new media platforms at Neverblue and a first-time judge. "In business you are always operating on incomplete information, most situations have challenging time constraints and you have to present your ideas to someone."

It's a chance to present complex information in an uncomplicated way, building confidence in individuals, Stewart said. That experience alone is a great opportunity for the students, but to receive immediate feedback from the panel of judges has a lot of value, he added.

"Another great skill is the ability to be in front of a group and be able to say 'I don't know' or 'I haven't thought of that,'" he said.

How well teams can break a case down is only part of the challenge, said Russ May, a judge from Cypress Leadership Inc. "Sometimes, what I see students do is they successfully deconstruct the problem, but when they construct their solution they neglect an element they identified earlier," he said. "It's a double barreled skill set. I'm going to be amazed to see what they come up with and put together."

Regardless of how the teams place in the competition, everyone involved walks away with skills for their own careers, Jones said. For the top three teams, they are challenged to make their best presentation yet, but for the other teams, they are able to see other approaches to different situations, he said. 

That extends to the judges too, May said, adding the competition is a chance to infuse energy into his career as a management consultant. It is exciting to see the energy the students bring, as well as the approaches they take to solve real world business problems, he said.

"I am also encouraged when I see the calibre of the students in these competitions," he said. "These are the up and coming business professionals."

To see the news release about this year's competition click here. Check back next week for results from the 2011 International Undergraduate Case Competition.

Participating teams

  • Concordia University - Montreal, Que.
  • La Salle University - Philadelphia, Pa.
  • McMaster University - Hamilton, Ont.
  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology - Edmonton, Alta.
  • Okanagan College - Kelowna, B.C.
  • Queen's University - Kingston, Ont.
  • Royal Roads University - Victoria, B.C.
  • Simon Fraser University - Vancouver, B.C.
  • University of Alberta - Edmonton, Alta.
  • University of British Columbia - Vancouver, B.C.
  • University of Florida - Gainesville, Fla.
  • University of Guelph-Humber - Guelph, Ont.
  • University of Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown, P.E.I.
  • University of South Carolina - Columbia, S.C.
  • University of Southern Indiana - Evansville, Ind.
  • Sir Wilfred Laurier University - Waterloo, Ont.