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A Marathon of a Case Competition

Chris Martin, Allison Paliska, Jules Waxman and Lori Defnet represented the Perdue School at the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC) at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, during the week of February 17-24. The Molson Competition is the most famous and prestigious undergraduate case competition in the world including 24 teams from 11 countries on four continents. The Perdue School team won their four-team division and represented the University in the six-team, final round.

The JMUCC competition consists of three stages. In the first round (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), teams in each division competed head-to-head in case presentations. Teams were given a three-hour window to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on a strategic problem faced by a corporation. The student teams then presented their findings to a group of judges representing that company. Competing against the Perdue School team in their division were Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Concordia University (the host team) and Chulalongkorn University (Thailand).

In their first head-to-head round, the Perdue team beat Nanyang Technological University in a case about Jobbook, a new and upcoming job search engine created to help “match” job seekers with employers. Judges liked the personality of the team and the creativity of the team’s recommendations for the company. On Tuesday, the Perdue team defeated Concordia University in their head-to-head case about Liftow, Ltd. Building off the feedback they received from the judges the previous day, SU’s team continued to improve. Team member Lori Defnet stated that: “getting feedback after each presentation was so helpful. We could learn from our mistakes and continue to improve each day for the next round of competition. This valuable feedback on presentation skills will go beyond just this competition and will continue to help us throughout our professional careers.”

Finishing off the first round of competition, SU’s team bested Chulalongkorn University on the third day in a case about Frank & Oak, a men’s online retail clothing company. After the first round of competition was complete, students had one day off to explore the city of Montreal. The Perdue team took the time to explore the underground city in order to keep out of the cold and windy weather.

The second stage of the competition began Thursday morning with a new case challenge. Students were given 24 hours to solve a case looking for ways to expand the Nivea for Men brand in the Canadian market. The Perdue team worked for 19 hours locked in a hotel room to finalize their presentation before getting some sleep. After a short nap, the team presented their strategies to corporate executives.

After their presentation, the team was sequestered until all the remaining teams presented. After all of the presentations, the final six division winners from the first two stages were selected. Finalists included the University of South Carolina, the National University of Singapore, Aalto University (Finland), Queensland University of Technology, the University of Alberta and Salisbury. The final six teams were then kept in isolation until they presented their case once again, but to a larger panel of judges in a much larger presentation room. After the final results were tallied, the University of South Carolina came in first, Queensland University of Technology came in second and the National University of Singapore came in third. While Salisbury did not place in the top three, the team still impressed many of the judges in what was deemed to be a very difficult final decision.

Outside of the competition, JMUCC provided many opportunities for networking with professionals from all over the world. Through various networking dinners, evening social events, a Montreal Canadian’s hockey game and a tour of the Molson Hall Brewery, the team was able to meet individuals from many large companies, including RBC, KPMG, Deloitte, IBM, Garage, Group Dynamite and many others. As an opportunity to compete against teams from all over the world, JMUCC was more than just a case competition for the Perdue School students. As team member Jules Waxman explained: “One of the most valuable aspects of the week was having the opportunity to get to know the other teams from all over the world and network with the competition judges and sponsors. By the end of the week, we made a bunch of new friends, as well as learned from a lot of interesting people!”

On their final day before flying back to Salisbury, the team had the unique opportunity to meet with one of the founding partners from one of the cases the team presented on earlier in the week. Antoine de Brabant of Jobbook asked to hear more about the team’s recommendations for his company. The team traveled to Jobbook’s downtown Montreal office to discuss their recommendations for the company and to explore potential opportunities for the team to continue helping Jobbook expand in the United States. Speaking about her unique experience meeting with Jobbook, team member Allison Paliska said that: “meeting with Antoine was truly inspiring. His passion for his company and idea could make any business student or entrepreneur want to get out there in the world and make a company out of one of their dreams.”

Overall, the JMUCC was a wonderful learning experience for the team of students from the Perdue School. Being immersed in an international, competitive, networking environment provided opportunities for learning that would be hard to achieve in a classroom setting. As team member Chris Martin stated: “I learned more in a week at this competition than I have my entire college experience.”

As the Perdue School looks to return to the competition again next year, this year’s case team definitely made a positive impression for Salisbury University internationally for their first time competing at the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition.

 Pictured (from left) are Chris Martin, Allison Paliska, Lori Defnet, Jules Waxman and Dr. Oliver Roche.

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