April 14, 2023Print | PDF
Students from the Business Technology Management (BTM) program represented the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University at this year’s CaseIT Competition. 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the competition, hosted at the Beedie School of Management at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, BC.
This year’s team of BTM students featured competitors Ben Lalonde, Maureen Mao, Jacob Parkhill, and Christopher Rodgers who are all currently in their fourth year of study. The Lazaridis School team made Laurier proud by bringing home fourth place in the division B five-hour case and second place in the division B 24-hour case.
To be eligible for the BTM case travel team, students must have a GPA of 10 and be willing to meet on weekends during the fall semester, as the start of training coincides with the second co-op semester. Students who accept the challenge of joining the team are intellectually curious and drawn to the possibility of going beyond undergraduate classroom learning.
With additional support from faculty advisor, prof. Josephine McMurray, and instructor and BTM alumnus, Matthew Raines, competitions like CaseIT provide unique opportunities for students to learn and grow.
“Without exception teams learn how to do ’hard things’ How many of us give up a day of time to read a 25 page case, build out an analysis and solution deck, then present it to a panel of judges?!”
McMurray was very impressed with this team and reflected on their challenges as well as the progress that they displayed over the term, earning them a place at the competition in Vancouver, representing the Lazaridis School.
“I can say unequivocally that the team this year stood out for their resilience. They started from a point that was defined by two years of virtual academic learning and social interactions, and so struggled initially with integrating concepts that would take their analysis to a competitive level. My fellow coaches and I convened and decided that their incremental progress over the semester, and commitment to process earned them a place in the competition.”
It is obvious that McMurry remains happy with the decision to move this team forward into the National CaseIT competition and speaks very highly of how they represented themselves and their output.
“Individually and as a team they were consummate professionals. The five-hour format continued to challenge the team, but as a participant in a division with two of the eventual finalist teams, they held their own. It was in the 24-hour case that this team excelled and gave the performance of their lives. They analyzed a complex case that involved understanding, and then finding a new vertical in which to partner and develop diffusion machine learning models. The team was in its element.”
“In my humble opinion, it was the best solution presented for that case in the competition. It appears that some of the employer judges felt the same way, and specifically requested that the team send their resumes to them after the competition. This hits all the high notes for me as a faculty member: helping to develop students who are able to apply theory to practice, conduct broad research and critical analysis, then creatively conceptualize solutions to complex problems.”
We were able to connect with Maureen Mao to hear her first-hand insights into the competition and her experience as a student competitor.
Prof. McMurray and Matthew demonstrated a high level of professionalism and dedication to their roles as instructors and judges. They provided clear and concise explanations of each case and were always available to answer questions and provide additional support when needed.
Their guidance was invaluable in helping us identify our strengths and weaknesses as presenters. They provided feedback that helped us to recognize areas for improvement and develop strategies for addressing those areas. As a result, we were able to make significant progress in presentation skills and feel more confident and prepared for the competition in 2023.
We had a shared folder that was an incredibly valuable resource - with a wealth of information and resources that helped us to deepen the understanding of the course material and develop skills as presenters. These resources included past year’s learning materials such as the syllabus, cases, videos, sample presentations, schedule, and other materials that were relevant to further developing our knowledge and skills.
Prof. McMurray and Matthew played an instrumental role in our learning and development, and we’re grateful for their support. Their expertise and guidance helped us to achieve our goals and prepare for CaseIT.
First was a five-hour case about the AI chatbot for BC Cancer. The case focused on how BC Cancer could improve patient support through a connected platform as part of its digital transformation. Our team proposed a solution that involved implementing IBM Watson Health to improve team care and decision support. We also suggested leveraging data collected from technology to access Watson's AI and NLP capabilities, as well as offering more channels to enhance the user experience.
In our second case, related to 1Qbit, we were presented with a 24-hour challenge that asked us to identify which diffusion model opportunity the company should pursue in the next three years. After investigating potential markets using a decision matrix, we concluded that 1Qbit should focus on diffusion models for video game design to address the market's need for lower-cost development. Our solution involved partnering with Epic Games to capitalize on diffusion models in both the short and long term. We also emphasized the importance of ethical diffusion models for the creation of video game assets.
The experience of travelling with my team to the CaseIT competition was nothing short of amazing. Our team host, Aaron, an undergraduate marketing student from SFU, made us feel welcomed and at ease from the moment we landed at the airport. He shared tips and tricks for getting around the city, and we couldn't help but feel grateful to have him be our team host.
On the first day, we went to Rodney's Oyster House for some delicious seafood. The atmosphere was lively, and the food was absolutely amazing.
The evening event, called ReadyForIT, gave us the opportunity to meet with other competitors and trade swag from each of the universities. We played some icebreaker games and I have a great souvenir from another school to take home and remember this experience.
The following day, we went to the Vancouver Aquarium and had an unforgettable experience. The highlight of the day for me was discovering the jellyfish, penguins, seals, and some other creatures. It was fascinating to see these creatures up close and learn more about their habitats and behaviours. The aquarium was a great place to visit and provided us with an opportunity to unwind and enjoy some time together outside of the competition.
It was amazing to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share my passion for business and create lasting memories that I will always cherish.
The two competitions were held at SFU in Vancouver. We competed with 17 universities, which included
It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email from prof. McMurray inviting me to participate. I was surprised and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a knowledgeable and experienced professional. Their guidance during the six-month course was invaluable, and I knew that working with them would be an amazing opportunity to further develop my skills.
Furthermore, I must say that my teammates played a significant role in encouraging me to get involved. Their encouragement and support helped to build my confidence and gave me the motivation I needed to take action.
We spent our Sundays for about six months meeting and preparing for the competition. Our Sunday classes were sometimes more than nine hours long, and they were divided into different segments to build our knowledge and skills. The first three hours of instruction were led by prof. McMurray and Matthew, who shared their expertise and provided us with valuable insights on different topics related to the competition.
I also put in time outside of our Sunday practices, reading assigned cases, as well as articles and news from various sources, including McKinsey, CIO, and other related websites. By doing so, I was able to build my knowledge and stay up to date with the latest industry trends and developments. It was essential that we came to class prepared with a deep understanding of the case.
This additional effort allowed me to contribute more effectively to the team during the Sunday classes and the preparation sessions. It also helped me develop a broader perspective on the case studies and allowed me to think critically about the challenges presented to us.
Working with three other students for the competition has given me a unique opportunity to get to know them better. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about the team environment, but as we started collaborating on the project, I realized that we shared a common goal and a strong desire to succeed.
Two of my teammates in particular, often have different opinions on how to approach the challenges presented to us. While this can sometimes lead to heated exchanges, I have found that it ultimately results in a better final solution. By hearing different perspectives and ideas, we areable to come up with a more well-rounded and effective approach.
The experience has taught me the importance of open communication and the value of diversity of thought. While it can be challenging to work with people who have different opinions and ways of thinking, I have come to appreciate the benefits that come with it.