Clinical approach clinches victory for Waikato at National Case Competition

03 Aug 2022

A team of Waikato Management School students are thrilled to have won “massive bragging rights” after coming first in the final round of the 2022 National Business Case League competition at the weekend.

A team of Waikato Management School students have won the final round of the National Business Case League, held in Auckland on 30 July. Pictured (left to right) are team members Jacques du Plessis, Heath Campbell, Dikshi Chugh, and Stella McLean. Dr Steve Bowden is in the centre.

The team – comprised of strategic management students Stella McLean, Heath Campbell, Jacques du Plessis, and Dikshi Chugh – went head-to-head against four other university teams from Auckland, Otago, Victoria and AUT.

It was only the second time the pan-university competition has been held face-to-face since 2020, due to Covid-related disruptions.

Waikato team member Heath Campbell, who is finishing his Bachelor of Business degree, says he loved the whole experience from start to finish. “It’s a great opportunity to expand your skills beyond the classroom, meet similar minded people around the country, interact with industry professionals, and get your foot in the door,” he says.

Each team was given just five hours to analyse a detailed case study about Fisher & Paykel Healthcare; develop a business growth strategy for the company, and then present their plan to a panel of judges from F&P, Jarden, and Boston Consulting Group.

But it wasn’t enough to simply increase F&P’s financial top line. The winning strategy also needed to help the company retain talented staff heading overseas and support the United Nations’ sustainability goals.

"We quickly realised it was going to be a complex task, but we rose to the occasion and backed ourselves to come up with an innovative strategy that was a bit different to everyone else’s," says Heath. “I was excited and confident that we’d be able to perform under pressure and do well as a team."

Heath says one of the team’s strengths is that they badly wanted to win, “but we’re also about the human relationships and camaraderie, so we’re comfortable with having our ideas critiqued by each other, rather than feeling nervous about it.”

The students decided their strategy should build on F&P’s significant growth in sales of ventilator machines to hospitals around the world since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Currently, the machines are only being used at 65% of their potential capacity.

They proposed that F&P should open a new manufacturing facility in India to reduce costs and better serve their key clients in Europe and Asia-Pacific. This, in conjunction with educating hospital staff around additional uses for products, would increase demand for consumables, which the India facility would fill.

To address the challenge of retaining talented staff, F&P could offer employees the option to enter an alumni programme. This would give employees the opportunity to explore other interests and upskill at an approved external company, with a guaranteed job back at F&P within four years.

“We thought it was quite a high-risk, high-reward strategy,” says Health. “It was either going to go really well or be a complete flop, because it was quite ambitious and out there, but we believed it would set F&P up really well for the future.”

The judges agreed and named Waikato as winners of the competition, with Otago securing second place.

Senior lecturer in Strategic Management Dr Steve Bowden says the students put in some hard graft at practice sessions held over the last four weeks, and it was impressive to see how much they had lifted their performance as a result.

“We’d also like to thank former Waikato Management School student Braden Kempthorne, now an associate director at KordaMentha in Melbourne. He helped us out a lot by watching two training sessions and providing his feedback to the students on how they could improve.”

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