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By Russ Cooper
The Haskayne School of Business from the University of Calgary took home the crown at this year’s JMSB MBA Case Competition, overcoming the fierce opposition of 36 teams of the world’s finest MBA students.
Held here on our home turf from Jan. 4 to 9, the 29-year-old contest is the oldest and largest MBA competition in the world, often referred to as the ‘Olympics of the MBA case competitions.’ The students tested their spirit of competition against another home team – the Montreal Canadiens. (More on that later…)
Coming from places such as California, Sweden, France, Germany and even just over the mountain at HEC Montréal, 144 students gathered in Montreal to be challenged by some of the toughest real world business problems.
Haskayne overcame the reigning champs, the Moore School of Business from the University of South Carolina, who placed second. Third place went to one of the competition’s first-time participants, the Nanyang School of Business from Singapore.
The winning team took home the cheque for a big $10 000.
Despite a strong showing, the competition proved to be too tough for the Concordia team of Annaleigh Greene, Ivonne Medina, Shawna Rose and Michelle Nero; they were excluded from the list of nine semi-finalists.
“I’m very proud of our team,” said JMSB coach Dickson Jay, a part-time management professor. “It was an extremely challenging competition and, despite the outcome, we performed exceptionally well.”
The winner of the Richard Outcault Award for team spirit was to the University of Porto from Porto, Portugal. The J. Pierre Brunet Coaching Award went to the coach from South Carolina Patrick DeMouy.
Concordia’s team took the case competition in 2006 and 2004.
As with past editions, the heat was on the competitors to analyze a series of complex real life business case studies, then present professional solutions to a panel of international business executives. Through a round-robin and playoff circuit, the industry leaders then judge the merit and feasibility of the solutions presented by the teams and ultimately decide the best team.
One of the biggest surprises came on Jan. 7 during the fourth competition, the live case, when organizers announced the corporation for which the students would be proposing solutions for would be the Montreal Canadiens.
In their address to hundreds of competitors, Habs’ owner Geoff Molson and Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Ray Lalonde explained they were looking to them to shift gears from the organization’s marketing strategy from the last five years of focusing on the team’s history and its 100th anniversary. The question: what’s next?
The inclusion of the Habs in the international competition was timely not only for the team’s centenary, but also as it tied in with the opening of the new home of the John Molson School of Business building last fall. The event gathered wide media coverage, including La Presse, The Montreal Gazette, CBC Radio, CTV and Global TV.
Later that evening, students were able to watch the Habs blank the Florida Panthers 2-0 from the comfort of the luxurious Molson hospitality suite in the hotel.
Sherin Al-Safa, one of four organizers, thanked sponsors (44 of them) who helped during these tricky economic times. “Had it not been for them, it wouldn’t have been possible,” she says.
This year marked a return to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, after nine years at the Hilton Bonaventure. The shift was made due to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel’s commitment to sustainability; one shared by the competition’s organizers.