Thursday, 27 October 2016
An Otago team defeated 11 other universities to win the 2016 Student Development Society (SDS) International Business Case Competition in Queenstown.
The Otago team consisted of Matthew Herbert (Finance and Law), Tom Williamson (Marketing), Harry Flett (Finance and Accounting) and Jack Ascroft (Economics, Finance, and Mathematics), with Management Professor Andre Everett advising. They faced stiff competition from teams representing five other New Zealand universities and six international universities (two from Canada, two from Australia and one each from Spain and the USA).
SDS chairperson, Queenstown competition Director and Otago Marketing Senior Lecturer Dr John Guthrie explains: “At this annual competition (hosted in 2016 by Otago), teams get a written scenario in which a business with a problem calls in consultants for advice. Their job is to analyse the situation, and determine what the company needs to do. Sometimes it’s looking at the structure of an organisation, but mostly it’s sorting out what they have to offer and how to take it to the market. The teams get five hours to do that – then they have 10 minutes to present their solution to judges with another 10 minutes Q&A.
“Otago’s team had a solid week, placing first, fifth and first in their stream for three case scenarios. They won the event by a nose in the final – after a great Q&A session – showing strong negotiating talent.”
Two of Otago’s team members, Harry and Tom, say the event was “stressful and great fun” with social and sightseeing opportunities between competition rounds. The pair emphasised its tremendous value in providing chances to meet and befriend like-minded people from all over the world, fine-tune their public speaking and analytical skills, and gain greater ‘real world’ experience of the business environment.
Both developed their interest in case competitions at Otago, wanting activities outside the lecture theatre that would develop their professional skills. Before going to Queenstown, they had already taken part in the national SDS Business Case League (with the SDS fully funding student travel to competitions).
“Sometimes you come across things and think, ‘I could have a good go at this’. These case studies felt like a natural fit. They give you public speaking and analysis skills. I’d definitely recommend it,” Tom says.
“We go to workshops to improve our presentation skills and analytical abilities. Then the lecturers asked a few of us about making a team for Queenstown. We all said, ‘Yes!’, wholeheartedly – you’d be silly not to,” says Harry.
“The Queenstown competition had a big impact on my personal development. I didn’t know what to expect – whether it was going to intensely competitive or relaxed and social. Overall, I realised it was a perfect balance of the two. Every team was there to compete, also to enjoy the occasion and make new friends.”
Dr Guthrie says the SDS aims to create extra-curricular activities intended to enrich and broaden students’ university experience, while developing valuable skills and an excellent CV item.
“The advantages provided by these competitions are tremendous! The Queenstown competition is an outstanding event and a flag waver for brand Otago. We have waiting lists of international universities wanting to attend.”