Jan. 20, 2020Print | PDF
A team of undergraduate business students from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics took first place at the seventh annual Family Enterprise Case Competition (FECC) hosted by the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business from January 7-11, 2020.
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students Stephany Desroches, Griffin Keglevich, and Sabah Jamal competed against nine international schools, including Columbia and Rotterdam University. Additionally, Desroches was named best undergraduate speaker.
This is the only case competition in the world solely focused on the issues surrounding family run businesses, which account for nearly 70 per cent of businesses in the U.S. The Lazaridis School has sent a team each year since the competition began in 2013 and has won the undergraduate division twice and has reached the podium an additional four times since its inception.
“Our international case program continues to shine on a global stage, matching academic content, real-world co-op experiences and a focused training course to provide what judges are looking for,” said coach Sean Cameron, BBA ’15, product manager of beverage development at Starbucks. “I was also proud of how our students showed up as ambassadors for our school, representing Laurier’s values, and adding to the equity of our business program abroad.”
In addition to coach Cameron, students were supported by assistant coach Matthew Donovan, current student and head teaching assistant of BU111. At the FECC, there were four cases over the course of a week, including one pre-competition prepared case, and three four-hour cases for which students were asked to develop a sound solution and a 20-minute presentation. Case topics included business diversification, governance, and succession planning, particularly as related to family businesses.
“Laurier’s team impressed the judges daily with their business-knowledge synthesis, analytical ability and communication skills,” said Cameron. “I was impressed by how quickly they were able to become experts in this category, which was no small feat as this was the first exposure to family enterprise for our students and they were competing against teams that specialize in family enterprise as part of their degree. Their success came from their intellectual ability, hard work, and determination to improve further each day.”
Keglevich noted that the perception of family enterprises is unclear among his peers and, in general, “The perception of family enterprises seems to be of ‘mom and pop’ shops. This is definitely not the case. Some of the biggest businesses in the world are family owned including Walmart Inc., Comcast, and Ford Motor Company to name a few. Family enterprises operate very similarly to more traditional business, but the main difference lies in the issues of ownership versus. management. In family enterprises, certain issues such as corporate governance and succession planning are pronounced.”