Four Windesheim students made it to the Championship Round of the NIBS Business Case in Finland.
The Windesheim team consisted of four students of the International Business and Languages programme: Anne-Lisa, Rick, Bender and Janneke. Besides going there to compete, they also had a wonderful experience that has made a lasting impression. We asked them about their experiences in the competition.
The NIBS business case programme was scheduled over several days. Each day the students were given an Ivey or Harvard case that they had to solve within three or four hours, subsequently to present the results to a jury. Anne-Lisa: "It was a really nice experience. I learned a lot about giving advice to companies. It's a totally different approach from what we were taught to do at Windesheim. Within four hours we had to come up with a complete plan, without access to literature. This puts you to work creatively, relying purely on your own knowledge, which gives you a lot of freedom." Bender: “The cases were very complex and diverse, which meant the solution could be reached only through critical and creative thinking."
The competition started on Monday. With each case they competed against another team from their group. A total of 11 points was awarded for each presentation. Rick: "The first case was about Emaar; a company responsible for a large part of the spectacular infrastructure in Dubai, including Burj Khalifa and the artificial palm islands. We had to devise a strategy and formulate an opinion on whether Emaar should expand internationally or not. We worked on this case for four hours in a cubicle, cut off from the Internet and other distractions. We then presented the outcome to a jury and got 4 out of 11 points. Not enough to win the competition, but not bad for a first case.”
Janneke: "On Tuesday we started with the second case. The company Haw Par, which markets the product Tiger Balm worldwide, was wondering if they should focus on market development or market penetration. This may seem like a fairly easy case, but under time pressure it doesn’t feel that way at all! The subsequent presentation was a lot better than the day before, but in terms of content we didn’t do as well as we could have. Ultimately, this case earned us 4.5 points. Again, not a victory, but we were very proud."
"On Wednesday, our case began early in the morning, at 7:00 am. Because the quarter-finals were scheduled for the afternoon, we only had three hours to work on this case. Luckily we didn’t run out of time and even managed to be very productive. Unfortunately, we were competing against a very strong team this time and four points was the best we could do, "said Rick. "We managed to collect a total of 12.5 points over three days, which was not enough to qualify for the next round. Of course we hated losing, but we also felt it was justified. Our own preparations before travelling to Finland had been minimal, but we know some of the other teams had been practising for 200 hours," Janneke says.
It was the first time that Windesheim students made their way to the Championship Round; Anne-Lisa: "We were fully aware that the other teams were better prepared. They had assigned each of their team members a specific task, for example one was in charge of financial analysis, while another was responsible for risk analysis, etc. This way they were able to use the little time available very efficiently and come up with more detailed advice. Unfortunately, the four of us have largely similar expertise, as we’re all in the same study programme. Even so, I am proud of what we have accomplished with so little preparation and still amazed at how far we have come in this competition."
Besides the competition the students were taking part in, there was also time for cultural activities. Rick: "On Thursday there was time to relax. We made a city tour of Rauma. Then we went to the sauna, as is the custom in Finland, followed by a plunge into ice water. We had never been so cold in our lives. Nevertheless, it was a very refreshing and invigorating experience. I can tell you it feels great to get back into the sauna after a dip into nearly frozen water. In the evening we joined a Danish team (which, incidentally, consisted only for a quarter of Danes) for dinner at a Mexican restaurant."
After three cases the team had lost the competition, but the students could leave with their heads held high: "I found the competition, in one word, fantastic! I consider it the highlight of my academic career. Our result at the end of the competition was a bit disappointing, but considering that other schools have spent hundreds of hours on preparation and practice, I am very proud of our team performance. Besides the activities being very educational and fascinating, I have also managed to build a large international network and make many new friends", Bender concludes.