Dec. 22, 2020Print | PDF
Four students from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University are the winners of the 2020 FEP International Case Competition hosted virtually by the University of Porto in Portugal (uPorto).
The Laurier Case Team has generally done well in international case competitions over the years, with participants recognizing the harder the competition, the sweeter the victory. This year’s victory was particularly satisfying for the team who prevailed against some very tough competition, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Belgrade whose teams came in second and third, respectively, as well as perennial challenger the National University of Singapore - whom Laurier beat in the first round of Division A.
The FEP School of Economics and Management at the University of Porto is home to the FEP International Case Team (FICT) whose goal is to develop excellent analytical and soft skills through the use of business case studies. This is the third case competition hosted by FICT with this year’s case focusing on growth opportunities in the Portuguese online marketplace.
Faculty Advisor Sofy Carayannopoulos is credited by the team members as being the driving force behind the Laurier Case Team’s consistent case competition success. “She has perfected the formula for assembling and training a world-class case team,” says third-year BBA student, Katherine Gotovsky. “Over the course of many years and competitions, Sofy has provided us with feedback and guidance, which has shaped us into the speakers, people, and competitors we are today.”
Srin Sridharan (BBA ’14) is a passionate alumnus and faculty advisor who is managing partner at Thought, a consulting firm dedicated to improving strategy, investing, branding, technology, and social impact to help solve systemic social problems. He led the team’s preparation efforts for the uPorto competition.
“This team’s dedication was nothing short of incredible,” says Carayannopoulos. “They trained every Saturday for eight weeks by presenting practice cases and staying on top of trends affecting the business environment in Portugal. This is the kind of dedication needed to win and I’m thrilled to see all their hard work pay off.”
Who: Katherine Gotovsky, 3rd year BBA double degree with University of Waterloo Computer Science (co-op option)
Hometown pride of: Vaughan, Ontario
Why she chose Laurier: “The amazing CS/BBA double degree program.”
Favourite class: BU111 and BU121. “Hard work but worth it -- I loved learning about the frameworks that are used to understand the business environment and make strategic decisions.”
Plans after graduation: Leaning towards a career in product management or consulting.
Case competition prep secret weapon: “Reminding myself of how lucky I am – to be paired with amazing teammates, to be representing my school, and to be doing something that I love.”
Who: Ryan Kofsky, 4th year BBA with Finance (co-op option)
Hometown pride of: Thornhill, Ontario
Why he chose Laurier: “Great reputation and the best co-op program.”
Favourite class: Finance II. “I love finance.”
Plans after graduation: Moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in finance.
Case competition prep secret weapon: Reviewing coach Herb Brooks’ speech from The Miracle on Ice.
Who: Adam Figura, 5th year BBA double degree with University of Waterloo Math (co-op and Finance option)
Hometown pride of: Guelph, Ontario
Why they chose Laurier: “Laurier is a top-tier business school with a great co-op program. Pairing that with getting a math degree at UW at the same time was a no-brainer.”
Favourite class: Management Consulting Practicum. “You get to consult for companies who are socially driven but do not have the capital to hire consultants.”
Plans after graduation: Getting into venture capital.
Case competition prep secret weapon: Drinking strong coffee and practicing the presentation in the shower.
Who: Ruby Tang, 4th year BBA double degree with University of Waterloo Math (co-op and Finance option)
Hometown pride of: Whitby, Ontario
Why they chose Laurier: “I loved the smaller university feel and Waterloo is a great university town.”
Favourite class: Business Law. “It was a cool opportunity to learn about a subject I didn’t know anything about.”
Plans for after graduation: Heading to work, maybe an MBA in a few years.
Case competition prep secret weapon: Smile for the camera!
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Lazaridis School: Tell us about the case competition. What concepts were you exploring and what solution did you present?
Ryan Kofsky: Dott is a Portuguese online marketplace trying to transition the Portugal economy to the online age. The country as a whole is underpenetrated digitally, leading to few established competitors and preventing the arrival of Amazon. The case asked for a multi-year strategy to grow the business exponentially and to do so profitably. Our solution was 3-pronged:
1) Demand-focused: We proposed developing “regional bundling” to reduce shipping costs on stores close in proximity, bold new marketing initiatives to increase demand.
2) Supply-focused: We recommended increasing the number of stores on the marketplace through tech support and a revision to their small-to-medium business offering.
3) Growth-focused: We detailed a plan on entering the Italian market and other interesting potential long-term targets.
Lazaridis School: What’s your favourite part about case competitions?
Katherine Gotovsky: To me, the best part of participating in case competitions is the problem-solving. When it comes to case competitions, as in business, there is never one ‘right’ answer – only the answer that is best researched, articulated, and defended.
Participating in case competitions has taught me how to approach complex, ambiguous problems in a structured way, and this has positively impacted many other areas of my life.
Lazaridis School: How did you get involved in competing in case competitions?
Ruby Tang: Just like many first-year BBA students, I first heard about the Laurier JDCC case team from Sofy’s BU111 class. At the time, my TA was also a JDCC and international competitor, and since he was someone I looked up to, I trusted what he put his time towards. After reaching out to a few upper years on the team, I knew this was the kind of environment for me.
Lazaridis School: Can you tell us more about the role of the faculty advisors and how they helped to prepare you for competing in case competitions?
Adam Figura: Our advisors were instrumental in helping us prepare for competing in case competitions. When thinking of a case competition, to effectively prepare, it is like a marathon, not a sprint.
Our advisors are watching us practice week in and week out, providing us with feedback and knowledge at every step in the journey. Our advisors are just as dedicated as the team if not more in helping our team reach our full potential, and it is shown through the effort and time they spent helping us prepare through their insanely busy schedules.
I can confidently say without the help they provided myself and my team would not have seen the growth we did, and ultimately end up winning the competition.