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Dec. 2, 2022Print | PDF
In November 2022, four business students from the Wilfrid Laurier University Case Team (LCT) earned second place in the Rotterdam-Carleton International Case Competition (ROCA).
Fourth-year honours bachelor of business administration (BBA) students Brayden Royston, Georgia Bryson, Tailai Wang, and Jason Amri represented the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at this year’s competition.
Started in 2017, ROCA brings together undergraduate student teams from 16 top-ranked business schools from around the world for a six-day, immersive case experience. Participants are given cases that cover a broad range of interdisciplinary business problems with a strong focus on sustainability, leadership and other shifts in the present-day economy. Teams present their business recommendations to a panel of expert judges from leading companies.
The Rotterdam Business School at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, and the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada alternate as hosts of the competition. Students travelled abroad for the first time in almost three years to compete live.
We sat down with the team for a peek into what it takes to prepare for an international competition.
Prof. Sofy Carayannopoulos was an integral part of preparing the team for ROCA - she’s been coaching us since we were all in second year. Without the countless hours of practice and coaching put in by Sofy we simply wouldn’t be where we are today. She provides guidance on case competition strategy, storytelling, structuring our solutions, and all aspects of putting together an incredible presentation.
We also can’t forget our coach and alum Sean Cameron, BBA ’15 and coach who helped our team succeed at ROCA. Sean guided us throughout the three-month preparation and gave us invaluable advice about the customer problems faced in cases, and building out compelling stories to support our solutions.
We really want to stress that without the support of these amazing coaches (as well as countless other coaches throughout the years and the entire Laurier Case Team), this success would not have been possible!
ROCA has a unique structure that involves teams competing in three “round-robin” cases and one case in the finals – four cases sponsored by four different companies in total.
The first case was sponsored by Florensis, one the largest growers of young flowers in the Netherlands and Europe. Facing constantly increasing expenses and declining consumer demand due to inflation and less discretionary income, Florensis was forecasting a massive hit to their revenues. To alleviate the impacts of the incoming economic downturn, our team suggested that Florensis pivot into selling young trees which would allow them to tap into the B2B carbon offset business. By adjusting some facilities to grow young trees instead of flowers and partnering with carbon offset providers like TenTree, Florensis would be able to shield itself from the incoming demand shock in the flower industry and also capitalize on a new, lucrative B2B market, and align with their own company values around responsible sustainability.
The second case was sponsored by the Kanata North Business Association, a group that is building out the largest tech park in Canada. The case was to address attracting talent to the park, both in the short term and long term. Given the Canadian case company and our team’s background in tech, we felt a great sense of comfort with this case – call it a home-court advantage! Our solution involved partnering with local schools such as Carleton and University of Ottawa to create a specialized co-op program with the tech park to attract student talent in the short-term and gradually make architectural smart-city-focused improvements to the tech park via a partnership with Innovate Cities to makehelp talent stick around in the long-term.
The third case was sponsored by Vebego, a large family enterprise with 40,000 employees focused on facility services, landscaping, cleaning, and hospitality. Vebego’s executive team has an amazing vision to create significant social impact within the company, but is struggling to communicate that vision with the large, decentralized organization. Their plans will reduce the carbon impact of their operations, aid employees and their families, and create a positive impact on society. We found this case very challenging, as the emphasis was on how to govern and communicate a vision, instead of simply creating one. Our solution involved implementing a new company -wide application that made top-down and bottom-up communication of social impact goals possible. Here, our individual expertise really came together - we had to leverage technical knowledge, human resources concepts, creativity in marketing, and abstract financial impact.
Our final case was sponsored by Siemens Netherlands, the Dutch wing of one of the largest industrial and manufacturing companies in the world. Similar to the Vebego case, the company’s executive team created an extensive framework on how to approach sustainability. Our team recommended a robust change-management strategy that would allow Siemens employees to be empowered to make sustainability a top priority in their day-to-day operations. Our presentation ended up winning us second place in the field of six finalists.
This competition took place in the Netherlands, specifically in Rotterdam. Our team explored Rotterdam quite a bit during the competition, thanks to the competition hosts who brought us around the city to explore downtown, ride on water taxis, and even play curling. The team also explored Amsterdam at the end of the competition.
We competed against 15 other schools, including Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Technology Sydney, University of Belgrade, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Many of us first heard about the Laurier Case Team back in Sofy's BU111 classes in first year. We all tried our hand at various case competitions that year and found that we enjoyed the balance between an opportunity to learn and the thrill of the competition. Having seen firsthand the difference LCT plays in fostering strong case competitions and smart business students, we were eager to apply and join. By coincidence, all members of this year's ROCA team joined LCT in second year and worked and trained together under Sofy and the various LCT coaches’ guidance in the years since.
It's hard to pinpoint this exactly. The brief answer is that each team has six to eight practice cases that last approximately seven hours each leading up to every international competition. Beyond this, several hours are spent doing regional and sponsor-focused research. We each also contribute to and learn from the domestic JDCC team and spend our free time staying up-to-date with industry trends and building domain-specific knowledge through electives, extracurriculars, and co-op terms.
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