April 14, 2021Print | PDF
For the first time ever, a team of business students from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics made it to the finals at the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition, the world’s largest undergraduate international case competition, held virtually Feb. 28 to March 6.
The team – Adam Figura, Katherine Gotovsky, Rona He and Ryan Kofsky, led by faculty advisor Sofy Carayannopoulos – competed against 28 business schools from countries including Australia, Lebanon, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Thailand, China and the United States. The University of Alberta won the competition, which is hosted by Concordia University in Montreal, with second place going to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and third place going to the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“Although we did not place, it was great to be recognized as a strong contender,” says Figura, a fifth-year business and mathematics double-degree student. “Laurier has never made the finals in this competition before and, by winning our division, we were the first team to ever do so. It was great to be able to etch our team’s name down in Laurier case history.”
The Laurier team was tasked with finding solutions to three business cases relating to product development and market expansion, with a focus on technological innovation. For the first case, they were given three hours; for the second, five; and for the third, 24 hours.
For the first case, they designed a marketing strategy for a digital consulting firm working with restaurants. As part of the strategy, they proposed a data analyzing tool to identify restaurants based on their popularity and their ability to survive the pandemic, as well as a podcast.
Then, for the second case, they crafted a strategy to promote a software platform that makes running virtual case competitions easier. They suggested targeting students to incentivize universities to use the platform, offering workshops and training for students and recruitment opportunities for companies interested in hiring students and new graduates.
Finally, for the third case, they planned the expansion of a company into India, with the aim of increasing its customer base by 60,000, while accounting for issues such as poor internet connectivity in places, required changes in management and the need to communicate with shareholders globally.
To prepare for this case competition and others, the team has been working together since the summer of 2020, practising every weekend for as many as 12 hours at a time.
“Research is also time-intensive,” says Figura. “We had to keep up with current trends and innovations in order to continue providing cutting-edge solutions at competitions. It definitely is a lot of work, but you get out 10 times what you put in so it’s a no-brainer to put in the time to prepare.”
The team credits Carayannopoulos, who was awarded the Lazaridis School’s Faculty Advisor of the Year this year, for her support, commitment and wealth of knowledge.
“Sofy is our hardest critic during practices and our biggest supporter at competitions,” says He, who’s in her third year studying toward a double degree in business and mathematics. “She continuously challenges our team to grow and is certainly the most deserving of the Faculty Advisor of the Year award, this year and every year.”
For Figura, who is graduating this summer, the competition is his last at Laurier.
“I will miss the countless hours building friendships with my team members and coaches, working together to improve ourselves and our abilities, as well as helping continue Laurier’s strong reputation as a team to watch out for,” he says. “I am grateful for the many opportunities to compete over the last few years as they were some of the best learning experiences I’ve had in my five years here.”