Feb. 17, 2022Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University students are known for success in the classroom and on the field. In 2021, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics students continued this tradition with major wins at two internationally recognized case study competitions.
In October, the Lazaridis Case Study team won a gold medal in the Rotterdam Carleton International Case Competition. Then in November, the team won first place at the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition—their third first-place finish in three years.
Sofy Carayannopoulos, associate professor and faculty advisor for case competition activities, said the wins add to a long track record of success for the Lazaridis case competition team. Carayannopoulos has been the faculty advisor to the school's JDC Central since 2015 and was instrumental in encouraging the team to enter competitions like the Rotterdam Carleton International Case Competition.
"These students had an appetite for stretching themselves and I believed they had the talent to successfully take on competitors outside of JDCC, so I started looking around international competitions. These competitions are invitation only and very difficult to be accepted into," Carayannopoulos said.
The team was accepted into their first international competition at the University of Navarra in Spain, and Carayannopoulos said it was a learning experience for her and the team. That first competition experience encouraged Carayannopoulos to develop a training program for future teams.
"In a very short period of time, we have gone on to compete on the international stage and win against some of the best schools from around the world," Carayannopoulos said.
The competitions aren't simply about winning. They are learning opportunities that benefit Lazaridis students in the classroom and their careers. The analytical, research, and communication skills they built are invaluable in the workplace.
Lazaridis alumni play a significant part in the continuing success of the case study teams by mentoring current students. One of those alumni mentors is Sean Cameron, a 2015 graduate of the Lazaridis Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program. Cameron coached the winning team at the Rotterdam Carleton International Case Competition this year. Cameron was a student member of the Lazaridis School case competition team, and he jumped at the opportunity to give back by mentoring. The competition was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Cameron said the team stepped up to the challenge.
"I'm really proud of the way they showed up in this competition virtually through COVID. They were going up against some of the top schools from around the world and came out on top for the third year in a row," Cameron said.
The cases vary based on the format of the competition. Cameron said the students have to wear many hats when they go into case competitions.
"They don't know where in the world the case is going to come from. They don't know what type of industry it's going to be about or what problems they're having. I think that's what makes it really exciting and challenging for the students. They have to be experts of all trades," Cameron said.
Mackenzie Oldfield is a fourth-year BBA student who competed on the winning team at the Rotterdam Carleton International Case Competition. Oldfield learned about competing in case competitions during her first year through the case-based learning that is integrated throughout many of the courses in the Lazaridis School.
Oldfield said the case competitions have given her an advantage in co-op placements and her role after graduation.
"We learn how to present information so that anyone can truly understand and wrap their head around everything that we're saying. During interviews, the people I met were really interested in hearing what I did at case competitions, what kinds of solutions I came up with," Oldfield added.
Another member of the case competition team is Katherine Gotovsky, a fourth-year student in the Computer Science and BBA Double Degree program with the University of Waterloo. Gotovsky picked Laurier specifically because of the unique dual degree program that enables her to earn two degrees in five years.
"Laurier is a very well renowned school for business and Waterloo is equally well renowned for computer science—it just seemed like the best of both worlds," Gotovsky said.
Gotovsky was scouted and competed on the JDCC team in her second year and was subsequently selected to compete on an international team.
"I joined because the team had a really great sense of community. It seemed like a great opportunity to become part of a group of like-minded people and develop skills outside of the classroom," Gotovsky said.
Those skills are also valuable for future careers. Case competition students, including Gotovsky, said they feel part of a strong network on campus and worldwide.
"I think for somebody who's interested in business, Laurier is really great because it has so many opportunities to get to experience business in the real world. Case competitions are one of those experiences outside of class where we learn to analyze big problems that companies might be facing and come up with a cohesive and effective solution. The focus on the real world is really something special here," Gotovsky said.
Cameron echoed what Gotovsky said about the learning opportunities.
"One of the things I love about the team is you are learning all the time. Half the fun of competing is trying to learn new things and come up with new solutions on the spot and think really quickly on your feet," Cameron added.
Carayannopoulos said she is proud of the team's victories and the continued participation from alumni like Cameron. As the nature of work changes, the Laurier alumni community continues to evolve to serve and support its members.
"When those alumni come back, it automatically creates a connection with the students and instills a mindset of giving back to the university. It teaches that this is the way we do things. You've benefited from somebody else training you, now it's your turn to pay that forward," Carayannopoulos said. "We're building an international reputation by going out there and demonstrating using objective evidence that our students stand shoulder to shoulder with the best. I've heard other teams say that Laurier always brings strong teams—and that's what you want. You don't always have to win, you need to build a reputation of consistent excellence."