Waikato takes the crown in New Zealand Business Case League 2018

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A team of 12 management students from the University of Waikato are relishing the sweet taste of victory in this year’s Student Development Society National Business Case League 2018.

Waikato’s case team were named national champions at the weekend following their outstanding performance in all three rounds of the university competition; held in Dunedin (April 14), Auckland (May 12) and Wellington (July 21).

“We placed in the top three in every round, so we achieved our goal of being strong contenders at every stage,” says Dr Stephen Bowden, senior lecturer in management at Waikato Management School.

Six universities vied against each other for top honours. In each round, teams are given a case of a real-life company to analyse. They then seek to come up with the best ‘real world’ business strategies in just a few hours, which they must present to a judging panel of business leaders.

Victoria finished second overall in the league, Auckland finished third, Canterbury and AUT came fourth equal, while Otago placed sixth.

Dr Bowden says the national competition emphasises “real-world connections, teamwork and thinking on your feet – plus with small enough size that you get a lot of input from academic staff”.

Waikato won the first round, maintaining its historic tradition of having never been beaten in Dunedin. They followed this with back-to-back third placings in Auckland and Wellington, securing enough points overall to reach the winner’s podium.

The team of 12 winning management students from Waikato are:

Round 1: Keegan Adams, Renee Butler, Honour Schuchardt, and Liam Whittaker.

Round 2: Caitlin Langlands, Loren Morse, Brittany Oliver, and Elliot Rhodes.

Round 3: Cathan Bowler, Kelcy Ballyntine, Robbie Mercer, and Te Aorangi Murphy-Fell.

Waikato team member Liam Whittaker, who has just completed double degrees in management and law, says case competitions play an important role in “bringing to life all the business theory you’ve learnt in your degree.”

You learn how to work in a group, think critically under pressure, and effectively communicate complex ideas to others – all of which are of paramount importance in the real world,” says Liam.

He credits the Waikato team’s victory to several key factors: “Our lecturers at Waikato place a very strong emphasis on solution-orientated thinking and work-integrated learning. All the theory they teach us in class is with reference to real-world case studies, which highlights the practical nature of business. So, when you’re asked to present a viable business strategy for a company in a short timeframe, it’s not that intimidating because you’ve already been exposed to this style of lateral thinking previously.”

“It also came down to the sheer work ethic and talent of the competitors, and the leadership and guidance of Dr Stephen Bowden.”

Dr Bowden says Waikato Management School (WMS) has always been a trailblazer in this area, having launched New Zealand’s first university case competition in 1996 – and it’s still going strong today.

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