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By Russ Cooper
The 'new and improved' John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC) didn’t have to use marketing jargon to sell itself – the new name and new logo are just the start of what made this competition the biggest and best yet.
What used to be the three-day Undergraduate National Case Competition (UNCC), the JMUCC was held over a one-week period, from Feb. 22 to 28, 2009. As well, the search for competitors reached further afield, including schools from Europe and Asia-Pacific. This year, 20 universities were represented – a record for an undergraduate case competition held here.
This year, Portugal's University of Porto, New Zealand's Auckland University of Technology and the Netherland's Maastricht University were among the competitors.
Taking home first place was the University of Washington, second went to Memorial University, and placing third was Nanyang Tech from Singapore.
"Slowly but surely, we're gaining a reputation as one of the best and most elite competitions in the world," said JMUCC President Victor Esposito Jr. "This was a way to show them first hand what Montreal, Concordia and the JMSB has to offer.
"Hopefully, in a few years, this competition will be recognized around the world."
In 2001, the competition was limited to Montreal schools. In 2003, it was expanded Canada-wide. In 2007, 12 schools participated including universities from the U.S., and in 2008, 17 universities participated, including schools from Singapore and Hungary.
The time extension required much more involvement from sponsors than in past years, but the response was encouraging. High-profile patrons of this year's JMUCC include Bombardier, Molson Breweries, Air Canada, Rio Tinto Alcan, the Power Corporation of Canada and the Montreal Alouettes, gathering nearly $70 000 in sponsorships for the event.
"We're really glad we were able to get these sponsorships in a time of recession," said Esposito.
The organizers decided the extra time in Montreal would be a chance for those from out of town to enjoy the city and take in some local culture.
"Last year, we only could afford pubs and restaurants, but we realized we couldn't do that all week," says Esposito. Thanks to the Molson’s sponsorship, the JMUCC was able to arrange 130 tickets for the Canadiens 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 24.
"It's a way to experience a real bit of Montreal culture. We really hope the game was something the competitors will remember," he said.
And chances are good they'll remember. Organizers were even able to arrange for a message welcoming competition participants to be displayed upon the overhead scoreboard. As well, one participant made it to the finals in the 'fan of the game' competition.
Besides a new look, new attitude and extended length, the competition revamped their Board of Directors. The Board, which met once a month, included seven external members such as Senior Executives from prominent companies, five internal members made up of JMSB faculty and administration, as well as two JMSB alumni.
"We felt it would make us more accountable and put us under pressure," said Esposito.
As well, the final case saw competitors receive a real-life scenario from a 'live sponsor.' Rather than receiving written cases from a third party (as is what happened earlier in the competition), participants were served on Friday with a case from an actual corporation. The competitors then had 24 hours to prepare a presentation with solutions to deliver directly to the business.
"The live sponsor adds credibility to the competition and we felt it would create a buzz in the business community," he said. "The students get a chance to work on their consulting skills and it's a chance for the sponsor to possibly get some great ideas they might be able to use."