Case Competition closed – Concordia comes in 5th

by Sylvain Comeau

Concordia came in fifth place last week among 24 teams at the 12th annual Concordia International MBA Case Competition.

“My expectation was that we could make it all the way to the finals,” said Concordia team member Bernard Jean Tourillon. “We got as close as you can get (to the semi-finals) without actually making it. Competition was extremely tight”.

The 24 teams were divided into four divisions, with the winner of each division advancing to the semifinals. Concordia actually tied for first place with Newfoundland’s Memorial University in Division I. Organizers let Memorial advance by virtue of its win over Concordia in an early round, even though both teams enjoyed the same number of wins, points and the same margin of victory.

[img_assist|nid=775|title=|desc=Successful Case Competitions don’t just happen. A lot of hard work, and a course load, make up a significant portion of the effort Here’s some of those who made it happen: (left to right) Professor Pierre Brunet, Director of the Executive MBA; Lonny Holland, President of Beacon Securities Ltd., who served as both a judge and a sponsor of the competition; Rector Patrick Kenniff; student organizer Miriam Blumer; Management Professor Rick Molz, who served as an advisor to the organizing team; and, student organizers Nancy Wells and Robert Gervais. (photo: Jonas Papaurelis)|link=none|align=none|width=640|height=368]
“That round against Memorial could have gone either way,” Concordia team member Marc Shwec said. “They won it 5-6, and the case was about a family business that was in trouble. We recommended that the business be sold off, but one of the judges is in a family business. It’s possible that we lost simply because of his belief in family businesses.”

Judges ‚Äî about 200 in all ‚Äî are drawn from all sectors of the business world. This year’s judges included the president of Oer-likon Aerospace Inc., the Vice-President of the Banque Laurentienne, and an Air Canada director. Teams of MBA students are given three hours to examine an actual company’s case study, then present an analysis and recommendations. Judges take the role of the company’s directors, the students take that of paid consultants.

“Of course, it would be unfair to compare the students to someone with years of consulting experience, but they would make excellent entry level candidates in a consulting firm,” Andrea St-Germain, one of the judges and a manager of strategic planning at Standard Life, said of the participating students.

J. Pierre Brunet, Director of Concordia’s Executive MBA Programme, said that a lot of responsibility will rest on the shoulders of the generation of students represented at the Case Competition.

“These are the best MBA students in their classes, so if they don’t go out and succeed in business, and run the companies, we’ll all be in trouble.”

The competition went international last year, allowing non-North American Universities to enter for the first time. Several universities, including Concordia, have established courses to prepare students specifically for the Case Competition, and the four best in the class are sent to represent their school. Even organizing the event has become a one year, six credit course.

“We’re being graded according to how smoothly the competition runs,” said Robert Gervais, one of three organizers and a third-year Concordia MBA student. “Twenty-four teams are participating, with six people per team, and we’re taking up the top six floors of the Sheraton Centre, so a lot can go wrong.”

In addition to the four competing students, delegations are allowed to bring a substitute and a coach. Professor Jan Myers, one of the Concordia team’s coaches, said the time pressure of the competition is balanced by the advantages of team work.

“In a case study course, they have a week to work on a case. Here they have three hours, but, in a group, one student might be better at marketing, another at accounting, and they benefit from each other’s major.”

The pressure-cooker atmosphere also gives students an intensive preview of the business world they are poised to enter.

“When I first went into this, I was wondering if you can really decide the strategic direction of a company in three hours,” Concordia team member Randy Mauskopf recalled. “Then I realized, having met all these top executives, that they do that for a living.

“I finally saw the realism of it when I was in the thick of it, and that’s why I’m really glad to have been a part of this competition.”