Case Competition wins battle against the elements

[img_assist|nid=806|title=|desc=The happy winners of the 1996 Concordia International MBA Case Competition show off their trophy: Don Philpott, Peggy Ann Coady, Jennifer Davis and Michael Feaver, all from Memorial University, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. (photo: Owen Egan)|link=none|align=left|width=400|height=409]BY OWEN EGAN

At least there was no hail. There was, however, a great deal of snow and a bit of fire thrown in at Concordia’s 15th International MBA Case Competition, which ended on a high note Saturday night with a reception at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Twenty-eight teams from eight countries had fought their way to Concordia last week through one of the nastiest U.S. winter storms in recent memory to participate in the annual event.

In the end, the team from Memorial University in St. John’s claimed first prize, a $4,000 scholarship from the Bank of Montreal. Second and third place honours went to Otago University of New Zealand and the University of Calgary, respectively. Concordia’s team, made up of Lynda Newcomb, Ingrid Pavilanis, Tracey Shuffler and Dave Walker, tied for seventh.

The competition pits teams of four students against each other, one-on-one, in a round-robin tournament organized into six divisions of five schools each. The object is to solve complex, authentic business problems, or cases. After three hours’ study of the case, each team presents its analysis and recommendations to a panel of judges.

Although only one of the 29 teams scheduled to arrive in Montreal had to cancel due to the snowstorm, organizer Drummond Aikman said that for a time, things looked much worse. “As of the opening ceremonies, five or six teams hadn’t shown. And because they were all stranded in various airports, we had no way to reach them,” he said.

Then, as we were announcing our contingency plans, a fire broke out in the room across the hall,” said Aikman. “We all had to leave. And throughout all this, we still had teams arriving.”

After the fire was put out, the opening ceremonies finally went ahead, interrupted only by sporadic announcements crackling over the hotel’s public-address system, emphasizing that the situation was completely under control.
Despite the intrigue added by storms and fires, this year’s Case Competition was exciting in its own right. Because the scoring system had to be hastily changed to accommodate the uncertain number of participants, Aikman said, “we knew there was an infinitesimally small chance we would have a tie.”

Sure enough, they did have a tie at one point, sending the organizers into a huddle to devise a way to break it fairly. “I guess the planets aligned,” Aikman sighed.

Student organizers Elena Kontakos, Sorin Munteanu and Aikman had been working on the Case Competition since June. After Saturday night’s closing party, they returned to civilian life, which in comparison will seem ridiculously uncomplicated.

[img_assist|nid=123|title=|desc=Congratulations to Concordia’s team in the MBA Case Competition, who tied for seventh place in a field of 28 teams from all over the world. Left to right are Lynda Newcomb, Dave Walker, Ingrid Pavilanis and Tracey Shuffler. (photo: Owen Egan)|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=501]