Second-year International Business students Alina Riecker, Lisa Schnelte, Patrik Kurilla, Max de la Croix are in Guatamela to compete in the NIBS Worldwide Case Competition.
In the Worldwide Case Competition teams from Finland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Rumania, Ireland, Engeland, China, Guatemala, Canada and the United States compete against each other on tackling real-world business challenges. Lecturer Virgil van de Gevel accompanies the Dutch team and gives daily updates.
Day one: Arrival
After a 24hr travel we arrived Friday night late in Guatemala-City. Saturday we met the first teams at breakfast, we discovered the city together with Laura our team-ambassador and had dinner with DIT from Dublin. Saturday night from 21-23h we had a team meeting. The team was super enthusiast about all the ‘wishes for success’. And wants to thank you all for that. Together with the Avans flag we have a real Avans-team-room.
Left to right: Virgil van de Gevel (coach), Max de la Croix, Alina Riecker, Lisa Schnelte, and Patrik Kurilla
Day two: Opening Ceremony
Today (Sunday) in the afternoon we went with all the teams to the organizing University del Istmo (Unis). We got a tour in the on-campus museum and were invited to join the welcoming ceremony. It was an excellent ceremony with many speeches, music, the results of the Qualifying round, the draw for the groups and some food. Unis has organized it excellent. We were quite overwhelmed.
‘Today we heard that we finished top 4’
We also were overwhelmed by the result of the Qualifying round which was held mid-November ’17. Although we passed on to the finals we didn’t know our ranking yet. Today we heard that we finished top 4. A great achievement. The draw placed us in Group D together with Heilbronn UAS (Germany), University of Prince Edward Island (Canada) and St Mary’s University of San Antonio Tx, US.
Tonight we have a last meeting to finalize the last details. Tomorrow we start the competition against Heilbronn. Schedule for the day: getting up at 5:30, Team breakfast at 6:00, depart for Unis 6:30. Start preparation 8:45h. Presentation 12:55h (Nl 18:55h).
Day three: First competition day
After an early rise (breakfast at 6hr) we went to Unis for our 1st competition day. In the first round we had to play Heilbronn UAS (Germany). The teams had 4hr to crack a case on Mejoramiento Integral Asistido (MIA), a company providing affordable housing to low-income Mexicans living at the base of the pyramid (BOP), defined as those living on less than $10 per day. The CEO of this social enterprise was considering expansion: international, providing new services (to serve critical needs at the BOP for water, clean energy, and health care services) or should local business development has priority.
Team Avans in action
Heilbronn UAS had to present first and delivered a decent – no risk- recommendation. Actually better as upfront expected. Then it was Avans’ turn. After an intense preparation they delivered an excellent –personal- recommendation. They continuously linked social entrepreneurship and profit orientation (volume for profit instead of margin for profit) in their story. Our team recommend to develop the Mexican market first by extending the product with water, health and energy services, start a consulting company to grow international impact and consider in a later stadium international expansion. Detailed implementation and risk analysis were completed with strong financial analysis and forecasts.
‘Bamm 7-4 win for Avans. Yeah!’
After correct and relevant feedback both teams were called in at the same time and the result was announced….. Bamm 7-4 win for Avans. Yeah! This results brings them to the top of the group.
Tonight they unwinded in a nice Italian restaurant together with the student ambassadors and students from other universities. Tomorrow (Tuesday) they again have an early rise, play St Mary’s University, Tx, US and will present at 12:10hr (Nl: 18:10hr). Results will be available around 14hr (Nl: 20h).
Day four: Tuesday – Second match
Today our team got a case about ASICS who needed an overhaul of their marketing strategy in order to realize their ‘Vision 2020’. This called for evaluation of STP, brand strategy, assortment / price strategy, retail strategy in general, versus the company and in the light of competitors.
‘Our team was quite disappointed and did not agree completely with the feedback and the result’
A complex situation with a lot of aspects that called for attention. Our team proposed a differentiated marketing strategy adapted for each target group. Lisa, Alina, Patrik and Max stayed a little bit at the surface and although they defined the issue at hand very well they didn’t nail it down in a strong implementation program. They couldn’t get their message across as they did on Monday. The financials however were strong and more elaborated versus Monday also due to the provided feedback. Would that be enough to win from St Mary’s ? St Mary’s presented second and delivered a solid recommendation however without financials. Hmm that could provide an opportunity. After deliberation the jury provided feedback and shared their verdict… the result 5-6 win to St Mary’s. Our team was quite disappointed and did not agree completely with the feedback and the result. Just as in real life coping with decisions like this is part of the competition.
‘Avans still in the lead’
The other match (Univ of Prince Edward Island vs Heilbronn UAS) resulted in a 5-6 win for Heilbronn. This results in an exciting ranking: Avans still in the lead (12p), followed by Univ Prince Edward Island and St Mary’s (both 11p) and Heilbronn (10p). We have it in our own hands. If we win we go the Quarter finals. If we lose we are dependent on others.
Day five: Wednesday – Will Avans reach the semifinal?
Avans proceeds after 7-4 win to University Price Edward Island to the Quarter Final this afternoon.
Match 3 of the first round
Today our team played the third match in the first round of the competition: up against Prince Edward Island University from Canada. No easy win as they made it to the finals a couple of times and they won from Avans in the semifinals in 2016.
The (MBA-level) issue at hand was about Davines an Italian high quality hair and skin care manufacturer for the professional market This SME was considering to go to China due to massive opportunities in Asia… or should the focus on the US and extend their presence … or extend the portfolio … or…
UPEI choose for the China expansion and delivered a strong recommendation backed by financials. Then it was our turn… we had to win to go to the Quarter Final or in case of a loss, a small as possible difference.
Alina opened strong and in a personal way. Followed by Max who delivered the SWOT and Option. Then Lisa elaborated on the marketing strategy and Patrik explained the possible risks. Alina had developed killer financials. As last Lisa closed the recommendation by referring to the defined issue and a recap of the recommendation. Strong timing: 19:02 minutes. In the Q&A our students answered the questions professional. Instead of internationalizing now they proposed to grow penetration in the US first, optimize the portfolio and start preparations in order to decide in a couple of years to go to China (or not).
Now it was out of their hands … the judges had to deliberate and provide UPEI feedback first. Then we were called in. The feedback was fair, relevant and positive. Especially positive about understanding that this was a financial case with burdens in it that made further international growth on short term difficult. “You guys nailed it”.
Now also UPEI was called in … and the result is 7-4 win for Avans. #thunder.
With this result Avans ends first in the group. Right now they are preparing the Quarter Final case to present these at 16:40hr.
Today around 17h our team presented their recommendation in the Quarter Final (so two cases on one day). The case our team got in the Quarter Final will be remembered for many years….. it was a super difficult case about “Semcorb Industries. An industrial semi government owned power conglomerate from Singapore. A leading developer, owner and operator of water and energy assets in 14 countries. which was looking for sustainable growth for their Utilities business in the emerging markets. Taking into account the many uncertainties in the emerging markets while integrating environmental, social and governance issues.” Still there ?
Our students’ recommendation was threefold: (1) improve the financials of the company (reducing debt to equity) , (2) Create strategic and lasting relationships with governments in the Asian region and (3) Work on smaller-scale projects that allow for faster return on investment. Their roadmap and strong financials completed their recommendation.
‘Yes, yes, YES we are in the semifinals on Friday’
UC Leuven Limburg also delivered a strong recommendation. The judges needed long deliberation to come to a decision: 6-5 win from UC Leuven-Limburg….. yes, yes, YES we are in the semifinals on Friday. For the third time in a row and with a team consisting of 2nd year students only. #Proud.
Thursday is a day of culture. We are going to visit the old capitol of Guatemala: Antigua. Friday morning at 6hr we will take the bus to Unis and start our 4hr-preparation at 8hr to present at 12hr.
Day 6: Culture
Thursday is the traditional cultural / social day in the program of the case competition. It allows the students to unwind a little bit, to get to know each other (and their cultures) even better and experience the culture of the hosting country.
Literally 1 minute before departure (and disconnected of Wifi) we received an amazing video of all the colleagues at Avans (Asis) wishing the team lots of success. When the students viewed the video in the bus they were really proud and impressed at the same time.
Antigua Guatemala, the former capital of Guatemala was the destination of today. The personal interactions, atmosphere, the people, the houses, churches and the discussions and traditional dance during lunch made it a superb experience. (Besides the challenging traffic and roads in Guatemala.) Tonight they skipped eating out for a quick dinner in the hotel as they wanted to discuss some aspects of the handling strategy and presentation approach and wanted go to bed early.
Alarms are set between 5hr and 5:30hr ! The bus leaves at 6hr. Preparation starts at 8hr and presentation is planned for 12hr. Around 13hr (NL: 20h) the results will be announced. The winners of the semifinal proceed to the final (presentation time 17:10 or 17:55, NL Saturday 00:10 or 00:55. If you want: The presentations might be broadcasted live via Facebook)
Day 7: Bronze medal
After again an early rise our team had to work on a case on Vox Capital. “Vox Capital was the first certified impact investing fund in Brazil.” DIT from Ireland delivered a strong recommendation. After DIT it was our teams turn to present theirs. In my opinion they delivered the best presentation so far. Strong intro, clear recommendation, fine implementation, risk/mitigation and contingency all backed by financials. After deliberation of the judges we got our feedback: some very strong points, a strong first half but apparently the judges got lost halfway. Hmm that didn’t sound very promising. Then we were both called in to receive the result…. 5-6 loss. Big disappointment, some disagree (of course) but after 30” they were enjoying lunch with other students in the Guatemalan sun and shadow… checking their cells.
Team: “remember where we started ! You developed yourself, qualified top 4, further developed yourself during the last week, overcame nerves and stress, became a team. You have great skills and are among the best. Congratulations with winning the bronze medal.
Now it’s time to relax and enjoy this evenings’ closing ceremony. The team wants to express its appreciation for all the support they have received the last days.
Virgil van de Gevel