Four undergraduate management students represented the University of Waikato at an international (RSM STAR) case competition last week, and were the only team in Oceania to take part in the competition.
Students Honour Schuchardt, Caitlin Weren, Chun Ho (Leo) Tse, and Luke Woolerton went head-to-head with teams from international universities, and tested their skills in real-life business scenarios.
Among the competing universities were the University of St. Gallen, Universitas Gadjah Mada and the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University - a partner of the University of Waikato.
The RSM STAR Case Competition is an opportunity where top business schools from around the world compete by presenting solutions for real-life business cases, with this year’s theme “A force for positive change,” inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The team were due to attend the competition in the Netherlands, but the competition had to take on a virtual shape amid the Covid-19 situation.
“For the team, this was a first in terms of competing in an international case competition from the comforts of home,” says Woolerton.
“Navigating the technology side of things proved to be tricky, but it was cool to see how quickly the world adapts to and overcomes different hurdles.”
As the decision to move the competition to a virtual platform came at short notice, the team had only a week to prepare.
“We adapted, we improved, we connected. No matter where we are, we believe collaboration and care should never stop,” says Tse.
Guided by senior lecturer in strategic management, Dr Stephen Bowden, the team met virtually and spent hours practising their presentations, with some taking as long as nine hours. The Zoom calls for their final presentation lasted a total of 27 hours.
“Let’s just say unlimited broadband is a pretty big requirement for participating,” says Weren.
“We were a brand new team with little experience working together, but we gelled from the start and each contributed valuable skills, creativity and input to the team.”
The team had to work through many challenges including technical difficulties, internet lags and time differences, and the organisers for the case competition worked hard to mitigate any disadvantages the teams would have.
“They had an email available 24/7 to contact in case of issues, and used a new tech startup, Innoflow, that focuses on providing online case competitions, which allowed everyone to start at 10am in their own timezones,” says Schuchardt.
“As a team, we really enjoyed working together to strategise how companies and wider communities could best collaborate to be a force for positive change.”