May 14, 2021Print | PDF
As one of the most anticipated and memorable experiences in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Integrated Case Exercise (ICE) has been challenging third-year business students at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics since 1977.
Each ICE competition can be counted on to be unpredictable and highly engaging with teams being randomly assigned only one day before the case company is revealed and they dive into the 10-day competition to develop the winning recommendation.
This year’s organization was the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. Assistant Professor, Meredith Woodwark worked closely with the Chamber to develop the case question in a way that connected the key areas of business management – marketing, operations, finance, diversity and more. The Chamber’s unique role within Waterloo Region’s business ecosystem added a new layer of complexity with their focus on advocacy and representation designed to apply to all types of industries of different sizes.
The added challenge for this year’s ICE competitors required further adaptation from students who now had to log into Zoom instead of pack into presentation rooms to make their pitches. Regardless of the format, the overall goal of ICE remained intact and once again connected current students to the experiences of previous generations who lived through the same week across the span of more than 40 years. One student, Emma Watt, a third-generation BBA student, reflected on what it means to be part of that legacy.
“As a third-generation Laurier BBA student, I am relieved to finally add my name to the list of those who survived ICE,” says Watt whose grandfather attended Laurier before ICE began but she’d heard stories of the experience from her aunt, uncle and sister who’ve all competed over the years. “Together, my team and I fought to come up with an innovative solution to help the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce increase membership and become a leader in the digital space. I am so proud of our team for making an impact and delivering a solution that earned us a spot in the top 20 teams and a place in the semi-finals.”
Once 80 teams had been narrowed down to the top four, it was time to test their ideas in front of the judging panel. This year’s panel featured three representatives from the Chamber, including Lester Holley, vice president of operations and finance; Dana Walton, director of strategic initiatives and development; and Ian McLean (B. Dipl. ’96), president and CEO.
The format of the presentations acted as a platform from which the teams could present their best recommendations to the judges. Each team’s presentation began with an overview of their analysis of the business case, followed by an explanation of their selection criteria, a SWOT analysis, and their recommendations along with practical suggestions for how to implement them.
There was no shortage of great ideas from the four finalist teams – here are some of the highlights.
Team 9 proposed the creation of the “KW Connect” mobile app to host local business profiles, collect and share relevant business data and provide a platform for event accessibility.
Team 40 proposed hiring a partner success manager as a liaison between the Chamber and local businesses. They also took a focused approach to recruitment through inclusive networking events for members and non-members to connect and share ideas.
Team 32 focused on diversifying the Chamber’s membership by working to attract BIPOC-owned businesses to the Waterloo Region. Their analysis prompted their recommendation to use customer segmentation to maximize engagement across four key areas: educational events; expanding professional relationships; sponsorship; and awareness building.
Despite the strong performance of the other teams, Team 55 came out on top and earned the trophy with their recommendation for a membership referral program, trial membership period and creation of an enhanced digital platform that includes a digital networking and membership portal.
The judges were pleased with the strong performance of all the teams they saw. “We had a very difficult time deciding on the winner as all the ideas were very useful and impressive,” says McLean. “It’s a credit to the creativity and ingenuity of the finalists that all their ideas will continue to be explored by the Chamber. Several of which we’re very excited to see come to fruition in support of the ongoing development of our region’s business community.”
Now that all the analysis, reports, and presentations have ended, the only thing left for ICE 2021 participants to do is reflect on their achievements in making it through this unique and rewarding part of their undergraduate careers.
Summing up her experience, Gabriela Morales notes how ICE Week has a become a central and culminating part of her undergraduate experience. "Overall, ICE week was a very rewarding and memorable experience that has easily become a highlight of my undergraduate career. At the beginning of ICE, our team was determined to do well but we didn't anticipate making it this far. The case challenged us to apply all our business knowledge and as a team, we worked together to deliver a creative solution that best suited the Chamber's needs. Through extensive research, analysis and combining our areas of expertise, our solution took an innovative approach to enhance membership experience through new digital platforms. Being in the finals was exhilarating experience, and in the end our hard work and dedication truly paid off"
Congratulations to the Team 55 members Lauren McConnell, Gabriela Morales, Jordan Rapier and Jake Starkman on their outstanding performance at ICE 2021.