Strategic passion leads to Norway

14 Nov 2022

University of Waikato Business Management student Stella McLean is off to Norway next year for the BI Norway ICC 2023 international business case competition

A competitive spirit and a passion for strategic management has landed University of Waikato Management student Stella McLean a ticket to Norway for the International Case Competition in February.

A win in a competition in Auckland with her Waikato teammates whetted Stella’s appetite for international competitions. Invited to take part in a virtual case competition out of Portugal with students from other universities around Aotearoa, a further invitation soon arrived to take part in another competition - this time in Oslo, Norway.

Case competitions give teams of four business students the opportunity to evaluate real-life business issues and come up with strategies and plans to improve the business. Competitions are timed, with the amount of time varying from a few hours to 32 hours for the zoom competition out of Portugal. Findings and proposals are presented and the best strategy is placed by judges and the business itself.

The BI Norway ICC 2023 international business case competition is being hosted by BI Norway from 11-17th February 2023. The NZ Student Development Society funds training and entry costs ($7,500) but the students are responsible for getting to and from Norway.

Stella, who is also vice-president of the Waikato Students' Union, says she enjoys the fast pace of the competition and the practical application of her study. “It definitely gave a good head start into the work. It’s a bit stressful at times but I like the result of it.”

Waikato Management School Senior lecturer in Strategic Management Dr Steve Bowden, who nominated Stella for the international team, says she will be a great representative for the University and for Aotearoa in both competitions.

“Stella is a really active student who takes advantage of every opportunity to apply her skills to real world problems. The chance to work with other students from around New Zealand to compete in Portugal and Norway allows Stella to use her brilliant team-building skills too.

“Nothing ruffles Stella, she's incredibly down-to-earth and I know she'll represent herself and us really well.”

The first thing Stella does when a case is presented is assess what the business does well in and what they struggle with. “I like to read through the case a few times to make sure I’ve got the right stuff, but it’s great having a number of different specialties on the team because we’re all looking for something slightly different.”

Stella says having someone on the team who understands numbers is important because businesses always want to know how much they can make and how much any proposals will cost, but she says strategic management and marketing skills are also important.

“I enjoy the banter, because as we talk about things we’re trying to find the best strategy.”

Stella is studying for a Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours, majoring in Strategic Management, with double minors in Marketing and Leadership Communication.

Strategic Management was one of Stella’s first papers at University, and she says her family were not surprised.

“I’m naturally a really competitive person, and everything I do I try to find a strategy to it.  I fell in love with strategic management straight away and have loved every other paper since.”

Stella heads to Dunedin next week to meet her teammates for the Portugal competition against 11 other international teams. She is looking forward to the challenge of the international flavour of the competition.

Stella then heads to Norway in February and will be overseas for around ten days. “I’m excited but I’m nervous,” she says. “I’m happy and proud that I’m –hopefully– going to make this Uni proud, and I’m excited.”

Stella is interning as a management consultant at KPMG for the summer and hopes to use her skills in the long term to benefit her local iwi.