48 students, 12 universities, 9 countries, 4 continents, 4 business cases, 4 days,
A team of four undergraduate students travelled 11,000 kilometers to the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand to bring home the gold at the 3rd Annual Champions Trophy Case Competition.
The moniker “Champions Trophy” comes from the fact this is a competition among champions. The Sauder School of Business team, consisting of Max Miller, Safeena Dhalla, Shizu Okusa and Tom Dvorak, were among the brightest young minds in business from 12 universities around the world. The event is by-invitation only based on a university’s success in the past year at other global case competitions—such as those held in Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong and Montreal.
“We feel so privileged to have competed against the cream of the crop from so many other world-class universities,” says Max Miller, a fourth year finance major and entrepreneur developing Easyplug, a magnetic connection to power outlets that prevents tripping accidents.
Each year, the competition consists of case studies relating to the current challenges and opportunities of four New Zealand organizations. This year’s case companies/organizations were:
Auckland International Airport,
The Watchdog Group – a private Internet services firm,
Plunket – a not-for-profit organization that provides wellness services for 92% of New Zealand’s newborns, and
Ryman Healthcare – a public company providing accommodation and health services for the elderly.
“What is distinctive about this competition, and what makes it such a high caliber competition, is that all the cases involve real organizations in real time,” says Professor Kin Lo, coach of the UBC team. “Students need to solve the issues facing these organizations now, not issues from five or ten years ago. Plus, they need to be able to do this under immense time pressure, repeated over four days, for a diverse range of organizations.
For each of the cases, teams of four students from each university had five hours to read and analyze a 30-page case study, then deliver a presentation and answer questions from a panel of business leaders, including representatives from the case company/organization.
“Solutions for a big company do not necessarily transfer to smaller enterprises or not-for-profit organizations,” adds Lo. No other case competition has these three elements—real organizations, real time, and diversity—together in one package. This combination really tests the students’ ability to understand the fundamentals of an organization and the environment in which they operate.”
The competition was divided into two rounds. In the first round, teams were allocated into four divisions. Based on the total points accumulated over the first three cases, winners in each division advance to the second and final round. No other team had more points than UBC entering the final, where the UBC team faced off against the National University of Singapore (who placed second), University of Southern California (third), and the University of Hong Kong (fourth).
“It turned out to be a Pacific Rim final,” noted Lo. “Perhaps this is another sign that this is the beginning of the century of the Pacific cities and nations.”
The final case involved Ryman Healthcare, a publicly listed company specializing in building retirement communities and providing health services for residents. The company’s challenges included burgeoning demand from an aging demographic, competition for health workers, and maintaining quality services in the face of resource constraints.
As he announced the winner, Ryman Chief Executive Officer Simon Challies noted, “The team’s analysis was balanced and addressed all the key issues. The presentation was crystal clear. We understood all of the recommendations and the rationale behind them. The judges were unanimous in awarding The Champions Trophy to UBC.”
The icing on the cake for the UBC team is that it also won the “People’s Choice Award,” which is determined by the votes of the case competition participants after viewing the final round of competition.
Beside the four finalists, other competing universities included the University of Florida, Masstricht University (Netherlands), University of Navarra (Spain), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), Singapore Management University, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), and University of Melbourne (Australia), and the host, University of Auckland.
Professor Kin Lo coached the team with assistance from Sauder alumni Mark McCoy and Andrew Grieve. Sponsors include the Commerce Undergraduate Society at the Sauder School, the UBC Alma Mater Society, and T4Bi (Templates for Business Inc.), a Vancouver based firm specializing in the development of business applications for deployment in data centres, cloud, or hosted environments.
The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia is Canada's leading academic business school, recognized globally for its contributions to the transformation of business practices through innovative research and teaching. The school has over 31,000 alumni in 74 countries around the world.
UBC Sauder School of Business