Business students devise solutions to real-world problems during biannual case competition

Hannah Daniel

Eighty business students will compete against each other in devising a proposal on if and how a global security and aerospace company should expand its business to include new services. 

Undergraduate Business Council presented this scenario Monday at the kickoff of the McCombs Fall Case Competition, an event that takes place each semester to give students opportunities to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios. Students will compete in preliminary rounds on Saturday morning, with the final competition that afternoon. 

At the McCombs Fall Case Competition, a company presents a problem being faced in its industry and teams of students compete to devise implementable solutions to the problem. 

Kenny Young, finance junior and UBC careers director, said the competition is geared toward emulating situations students would face as professionals.

“The purpose of these competitions is to put students in a very nuanced and ambiguous setting and challenge them to apply many things they learn in class to a real-world setting,” Young said. “There’s not always a clear solution to these problems, so it requires a lot of critical thinking and diligence.”

Three teams of four students will receive cash prizes ranging from $400 to $1,600. In addition to the cash prize, the winning team will be eligible to compete at the University of Southern California’s national case competition.

Jennifer Quillin, UBC fall case chair, said students also gain valuable experience and networking opportunities from participating in these events.

“You cultivate incredible relationships, not only with the companies,” said Quillin, a business and government junior. “It also gives students a different arena to interact with faculty and alumni in. To be able to say that you’ve participated in a case competition in an interview, or in any situation, really shows that you can conduct yourself in front of professionals and put time and effort into solving a problem.”

During preliminary rounds, students will present their solutions to panels of judges composed of sponsor company representatives, McCombs faculty and alumni. 

Accounting sophomore Alex Dimitroff, who is participating in his first case competition this week, said he is looking forward to the financial analysis aspect of the prompt.

“I’m a little nervous,” Dimitroff said. “I think some of the other people in the [competition] know a little more about the subject than I do, but I’m hoping this will be a good learning experience.”