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Virtual international case competition offers valuable lessons

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Virtual international case competition offers valuable lessons

Business students had a new opportunity to hone their problem-solving skills through new Oakland University’s International Case Competition (OUICC).

In its first year, student teams from Oakland University and University of Michigan-Flint stepped up to the challenge to put their business know-how to work to develop solutions to a business case study in this virtual competition.

Not only did business students get a chance to compete, students from the Oakland University business school Scholars program got a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to coordinate a case competition.



As members of the OUICC Executive Board, a handful of Scholars worked alongside SBA faculty and alumni to organize all facets of the competition. From structuring the virtual program and determining the best technology to use, to promoting the event around the world and selecting the case study, OU business students gained valuable first-hand experience.

“Organizing the competition was a large undertaking, but also exciting and rewarding,” says OU MBA student Kate Rowley, who is specializing in international business. “The faculty was very supportive of our ideas.”

Through OU’s Scholars program, which offers OU business students leadership, service and experiential learning opportunities, students participate in several school level case competitions.

Coordinating and hosting an international case competition, which welcomed students from universities around the world to compete virtually, further expanded the learning.

“I really wanted the Scholars to experience working with teams from other schools,” says Karen Markel, faculty director, strategic initiatives and undergraduate business programs, and associate professor, management.

The competition also ties in with the business school’s goal to ensure students develop a global perspective and sharpen the technology skills they’ll need beyond college.

Virtual lessons

With a virtual competition, teams were not required to travel to present their recommendations. Instead, participants and coordinators got hands-on with technology that allowed teams and judges to share information electronically.

Teams received their case study in winter 2013, complete with specific instructions and deadlines. The three-round competition included a video submission, presentation and summary. The second and third rounds were complete electronic submissions. The final round took place in early May. Each team received a written evaluation from the business professionals who served as judges. They also had the opportunity to see how the competing team tackled the same challenges.

Participating students sharpened their skills in teamwork, market analysis and market strategy while developing their entries, says Markel.  

“They dealt with strategic issues,” Markel says. “A company is at a crossroads and needs to decide how to position itself for the future. The teams had to develop recommendations.”

Program potential

Markel expects the international case competition program to grow significantly during the next several years, which will be a positive development for both OU and its business school.

“By creating a unique experience this type of international competition will bring visibility to Oakland University as well as our Scholars program,” Markel adds.

“As a senior, I wanted to leave a footprint in the OU community, and I could not think of a better way than contributing to the first Oakland University International Case Competition,” says Veronica Urriola Martinez, a senior majoring in finance at Oakland University.

“In the process, I had the opportunity to collaborate with brilliant and supportive students who have become more than peers,” Martinez adds. “The networking opportunity that OUICC has provided is beyond extraordinary.”

“With the help of the fantastic Professor Markel and the cooperation of other smart team members, I better developed my leadership skills and proved my group working ability,” says Xiaoyu Liu, an SBA Scholar majoring in finance and minoring in quantitative methods.

Liu, who is from Beijing, China, continues, “My parents and family are so proud of me for being part of this team. This was a valuable and unique experience for me, and it allows me to stand out among other students and future employees.”


By Flori Meeks