B.Sc. Business & Law / B.Sc. Business & Management Students at JMUCC 2017

John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition Concordia University Montreal, Canada

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A team of four students from B.Sc. Business & Law and B.Sc. Business & Management- Georgina Hughes, Roisin Power, Serena Gallagher and Jack Daly – represented DIT at the 9th edition of this the largest undergraduate case competition in the world.

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John Molson School of Business, Downtown Montreal

This maintains the College of Business’s very proud tradition of qualifying to participate in every edition since the competition was first held in 2009 – one of only three schools with this distinction – along with Concordia University (the hosts) and the University of South Carolina.

This year, our participation was again, in part enabled by very generous support and sponsorship from Accenture.

The format of the competition is such that each school competes heads up against each other school in the division (4 teams) over the first three days of competition.  Each school has three hours to analyse a case study on a company and prepare a PowerPoint presentation of 20 minute duration prior to making that presentation immediately thereafter to a panel of judges.  The students have no access to books, notes or internet during this period and must design the PowerPoint entirely from scratch.  They compete for a maximum of 11 points each time – the potential results are 11-4, 10-5, 9-6 or 8-7.  In other words the maximum a team can attain over these first three rounds / days is 33 points and the minimum is 12 points.   The final round i.e. the research round is carried out over a 24 hour period during which teams do have access to the internet and in this round all for teams compete against each-other for 25, 30, 35 or 40 points.  The top team in each division after these four grueling rounds progress to the Grand Final.

Day 1 – Opening Ceremony and Divisional Draw

This evening, teams, coaches, organising committee members, Concordia faculty and competition sponsors all attended the opening ceremony and divisional draw at 8pm.  The DIT team just made it on time … having had their original connecting flight from New York to Montreal cancelled at the last minute.  When it came time for DIT to draw their division number, the President of the Committee announced “DIT  haven’t arrived yet” and requested our team ambassador to do the honours.  However we had arrived … just at that moment- in our Accenture hoodies … and to great cheers of welcome, we shouted “we are here”!

And so on to what everyone had been waiting for – the draw to decide divisional opponents.  The 24 selected schools were drawn into six divisions of four schools. DIT were drawn against reigning 2016 Champions, Queensland University of Technology, 2016 runners up the National University of Singapore and the University of Muenster, Germany.  A very tough group!

Day 2 – Round 1

And so it begins! After three months of team selection and preparation, with significant input from DIT faculty, previous DIT JMUCC participants and Accenture Consultants – most especially Katie Brennan and Darragh Smyth, rehearsals are over and the action begins.  Against competition kingpins – the National University of Singapore.  The case today is on Ardenne – a Canadian fashion retailer with intentions to leverage their omni channel and to expand to the US.   The guys did a great job presenting their analysis, issue prioritisation, options evaluation and recommendations.  The panel of five judges had only one criticism – perhaps too much focus on option evaluation including critique of rejected options.  So a key lesson here for tomorrow.

Anyway – the decision: a one point win for NUS 8:7.  Disappointed.  But unbowed and even more determined to win Round 2.

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DIT Team hard at work in the prep room

Day 3 – Round 2

Today the opponents are reigning champions – Queensland University of Technology.  The case was on Mwana Canada – a Montreal headquartered Canadian not for profit / charity for family support in the Congo. Totally unexpected – the first time a not for profit organisation has come up at JMUCC in 9 years.  The key Issues were volunteer recruitment & retention and fundraising.  QUT did a cracking job and DIT were right up against it as they entered the presentation room.  But … a brilliant analysis and extremely creative recommendations would be enough according to many in the audience.  But it is the judges’ – including the founder of Mwana Canada – opinions that count

And so the long anxious wait until judge’s feedback.  And … a win for DIT over QUT on a 9-6 score line.   And fabulous feedback from the judges … giving DIT great confidence ahead of the final 3 hour round.

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Team Presenting on Mwana Canada

Day 4 – Round 3

The Division is really tight going into this the third 3 hour round.  NUS Lead on 17 points, DIT lie second on 16 points, QUT have 15 points and Muenster, today’s opponents, have 12 points.

Today’s case was on Buffalo Stationary – a Canadian Stationary company looking for a short term (6-12 months) sales growth strategy.

And … another win for DIT – beating the rapidly improving University of Muenster 8-7.  This result and score line in tandem with QUT beating NUS today means DIT top the division going into the 24 hour round on Friday – Saturday.  However the division is so tight that in effect whichever school wins that 24 hour round progresses to Grand Final on Saturday afternoon.

This is the fifth year in a row that DIT has lead their division going into this the final 24 hour Round.  But this is never a guarantee of success.  So …. nothing to get excited about … for now at least.

And now, ahead of tomorrow’s rest day – a gala party in the John Molsen Brewery in Old Town Montreal. Time to dress up and chill down!

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Team and coach chilling out

Day 5 – Recovery Day

And boy does everyone need it!

Day 6/7– Round 4 – the 24 Hour Research Round

Nerve-wracking for the 24 coaches … who have had no contact whatever with their team since commencement of the 24 hour round.  And all the more so as the news coming back to us from the Organising Committee is that all teams are finding the 24 Hour Case extremely challenging.  We are not told what the company is.  Nor the sector.  We place small wagers among ourselves as to what it might be.  Some of the competition sponsor companies are popular picks – Sun Life Financial, RBC, CN, Brother, IBM or would they really throw a curveball and have Ardenne, Mwana or Bufallo again?  Or as in previous years have a silent sponsor as the focus of the 24 hour round?

So 24 hours later … down to the presentations in the Sheraton Hotel to find out!

It is Agripur – a Canadian Agri Co-Operative with CAD$200m to invest in agri sector start ups.  The task:  to identify such startups to invest in.   A curve-ball for sure.  A non traditional case and a total surprise.

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presenting on Agripur

Queensland are up first.  Good job.  Some quite interesting suggestions here.

And now Muenster.  A very different set of companies suggested here.

Now it is DIT.  Wow – the very best set of 24 hour round ppt slides many in the audience have ever seen.  A perfect presentation in terms of timing and delivery too. Feeling a little confident.  But it’s only NUS up next!

Ahh … it’s going to be close between DIT and NUS for the win.  NUS have just done a great job identifying and evaluating startups.

So now the agonizing wait.  And the announcement of the divisional winners – Concordia University, University of Florida, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Pan American University, University of New South Wales and … NUS!

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Heartbreaking.  During feedback Judges said “it was a fraction” – they “debated long and hard about who to deem the winners”. On balance good for team to know they were so close.  But certainly bittersweet.

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Fast forward now to Announcement of 1st, 2nd and 3rd  In the Grand Final at the Closing Gala Dinner.  3rd – Concordia, 2nd – NUS, 1st Florida.  So … NUS’s presentation which bettered DIT was deemed second best overall in Grand Final.  Again – bittersweet.

Why not check out-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LyHzYoVbcc  (2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VVM7G_bFNg (2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7JD8C8YXog (2017)

In summary, great experience, great challenge, great learning, great networking, great performances.  Georgina, Roisin, Serena and Jack wonderful ambassadors for DIT College of Business.  Roll on JMUCC 2018.

BSc Marketing Students Compete in Prestigious International Case Competition 2017

Network of International Business Schools (NIBS) International Case Competition 2017, Rauma, Finland

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Rauma, UNSECO world heritage site and location for this year’s competition

This year a team from DIT B Sc Marketing, final year has qualified for the final of the 22nd NIBS International Case Study Competition, one of 16 teams from an initial entry of 40 Business Schools who entered this prestigious competition. This is the longest established business case competition globally and is running from 26th February to 3rd March 2017 and hosted by Satakunta University of Applied Sciences – Rauma, Finland.

All teams are seeded into four groups of four teams and compete in a round-robin over three days. Each team ‘plays’ against the other with a scoring system that allocated 11 points between the teams for each match. The top two teams from each group, based on points scored, go forward to the quarter-finals and so on.

All cases are chosen by the host university and are international in focus but can relate to any domain of International Business. Teams, with nothing but the case study and their references books, are expected to analyse the situation using appropriate methodologies, evaluate alternatives and produce creative, well-argued solutions, within a three or four-hour period. They present these in a twenty minutes in their role as consultants to a team of judges. The judges then have ten minutes to ask questions. After both teams present, the judges make their evaluation and provide scores and feedback to both teams.

In addition to the rigors of case analysis, there is a significant social and cultural dimension to the week with company visits, a visit to city hall to meet the city’s politicians and an opportunity to taste Finish culture and life.

Day One

Monday started off early with teams commencing their case cracking from 8am. Brisk, cold but clear here in snowy Rauma.

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The Team’s home for the week- preparation room L-R: Rachel McFadden, Ciara Purcell, Patrick Reilly and Leanne Keegan

With months of speculation on the flavour, focus and content of the cases to come we were still none the wiser as we arrived to start on Monday.

All was revealed with a Harvard case ‘Emaar; The Centre of Today Tomorrow’, which focused on the U$15bn property developing business located in Dubai. The core business was very successful and the issue to address was the next stage- to develop further in the home market or invest abroad, all within the context of the recent downturn and subsequent uncertainty.

All teams either opted for an expansion strategy to a new market or further development of the Dubai market.

The team did a great job presenting their solution with confidence and clarity (a key issue for non-English speaking judges) and their analysis was excellent. The excelled in the Q&A in particular. However, it fell short marginally to Heilbronn University in the judges view and we lost 6 to 5. A close call which puts the pressure on but was still a great performance with nothing to complain about. So we are up against the University of Vermont tomorrow who were beaten by our other group member, and reigning champions, Carleton University.

Day Two

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An early start at SAMK, Rauma, Finland

Greetings from Finland at the start to day two of the competition. Today is an important point for our team with a real need to grab a win and put us back in contention. The case was ‘Tiger Balm: Internationalisation and Product Extension, an NUS/Ivey case which was ideal for our team. Up against Vermont, it was hard to differentiate the two presentations, with both featuring some good innovations and high quality presentations. Again, it was a nail-biting wait for the scores from the judges but thankfully in our favour 6 to 5.

So we now sit second in the group, just behind our competitors tomorrow, Carleton, and one point ahead of Heilbronn University. Every permutation is possible with only one team (Carleton) now guaranteed for the quarter-finals and the other three teams all in a position to get the remaining place.

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The team present their solution to today’s case- ‘Tiger Balm’

Day Three

The teams started the final group round today at 6.45am as all groups must be completed by lunchtime.

Todays’ final group case was ‘Samsung Mobile: Market Share and Profitability in Smartphone’s’ with a tight three-hour turnaround for all teams. Everything depended on the outcome of both matches in our group and it couldn’t have been closer. We were against the group leaders and current champions, Carleton, with a 100% record. We didn’t dint that record but we did enough to finish second in the group and qualify with the top eight teams for the quarter-finals.

Day Three, Part Two

So with a mere 90 minute break the team entered the preparation room one more time, on this occasion, against our great friends Memorial University in the quarter-final match. This was also a three-hour preparation. The case was a BTB one titled ‘Ultrarope: Crafting a go-to-Market Strategy for Kone’s Innovative ‘Ultrarope’ Hoisting Cable’. Despite the grueling day with two cases back-to-back the team did a magnificent job with a bold, innovative strategy, enough to win the day and go forward to the final day, along with Concordia University, London Southbank University and Carleton University.

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The team present their solution to today’s quarter-final case ‘Kone’

Day Four (the day off)

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The swimming pool, Baltic Sea, Finland

The well-earned ‘day-off’ included a sleep-in, a walking tour of the UNESCO world heritage city of Rauma and a particularly Finish phenomenon of Ice-Swimming, yes ice swimming.

All the students went to one location for a range of activities and the coaches were deposited by the shores of the Baltic sea. Following a traditional Finish lunch everyone enjoyed the heat of a sauna, to be balanced by a dip in the Baltic sea (see photo), currently a balmy 1°C/34°F!

An experience hard to describe.

Day Five

After a well-earned rest day yesterday, we went forward with the three other teams to compete for the final two spots. After a week of speculation, we finally got a CSR-related case with ‘Nestle SA: The Nescafé Plan in China’: A nice case with lots to work with and certainly suitable for the team. We were on after our keen rivals in many previous competitions, Concordia University.  As a semi-final there was great support and turnout from all the other competitors with the Memorial University Team, despite losing to DIT in the quarter-finals, sporting a ‘Good Luck DIT’ banner.

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The team from Memorial University, St. John’s Newfoundland

However, we narrowly lost to Concordia who go on to battle Carleton later today, once again a Canadian-dominated final.

Carleton University won the final which featured a case on strategic integration ‘Sany’s Cross-border Acquisition, Integration and Strategic Renewal’.

The week finished where the DIT team were awarded their bronze medals and received the most inspiring coach of the competition award.

So overall, a great performance at every step of the way by the whole team and while disappointed not to reach the final, there were no regrets as the team performed exceptionally well. Also, the have represented DIT so well and are a real credit to us making the final four in this ultra-competitive competition.

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The UNESCO world heritage site of the old city of Rauma, Finland