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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Bielak

We've Won The Network of International Schools Worldwide Case Competition

A post dedicated to my NIBS experience

They say moments are created in flashes and lost in seconds. I think it's true because all I remember when our name was called is the roar of screams. Robin Ritchie reads "And the winner of the 2019 NIBS Worldwide Case Competition with a score of 6 to 5... from Toronto Ontario the University of Guelph-Humber!". It was a feeling of a tidal wave hitting the beach. It was a wave of hard work crashing onto a beach of passion for success. However, what is this competition? What does the victory mean and how did we get here?

What is NIBS?

"The Network of International Business Schools (NIBS) is an association of business schools from around the world, united by a shared view that the internationalization of business and globalization of the economy are essential elements in the evolution of managerial practices". Every year they host a business case competition that since its inception has seen 48 different universities from 18 countries. This year was no exception at the week-long championship round tournament took place from February 17th to the 23rd. The competition featured 16 universities representing 9 different countries around the world.

NIBS is one of the oldest undergraduate case competitions in the world an is a test of problem-solving ability, business acumen, cultural insight, communication skills, and teamwork. Teams of 4 students compete on a multitude of various business problems that this year included:

  1. The exploration of how can Yoox a luxury fashion e-retailer leverage the newly acquired Net-a-Porter to compete against Farfetched? A rising competitor in the industry.

  2. How might the Lebanese Mountain Trail Association ensure the security, maintenance, sustainability and monetization of a Lebanese Mountain Trail?

  3. Forta Furniture, a small business based in Romania is looking towards international expansion but, how do they go about doing that among a very competitive market and changing consumer demands?

  4. Illumination-Solar produces a solar light source for those at the Base of Pyramid and recently they've lost almost everything. How can this Entrepreneur help provide sustainable light to those that need it most while being profitable?

  5. The PSA Group acquiring GM's Opel & Vauxhall amid Brexit tensions. How should they market these brands across the globe and optimize their operations?

  6. KidZania (a kids parks where they “role-play” grown ups) needs to address how can they continue to grow and be sustainable in a digital world with increasing Edutainment options?

The teams at the competition are given between 3-4 hours to read these cases that are 8-25 pages in length and prepare a PowerPoint presentation for a panel of judges. They present to them immediately following the 3 or 4 hours in the form of a 20 minute presentation and 10 minute Q&A. Judges then decide how they'd like to split the 11 points they can give with a max score of 8-3 in favor of one team.

What happened at NIBS?

Teams were split into 4 groups with each group having 4 teams. The groups played each-other over 2 and half days resulting in the standings looking like this:

Teams within the top 2 of each group moved on to the final 8 playoff bracket. I study at the University of Guelph-Humber, thus we placed 2nd in group D. This meant that we played Southeast Missouri, the 1st place team in group C in the quarter finals. The quarter finals match-up was by far the most stressful. Imagine the feeling... the 20 minutes that you present your solution will determine if you move on to semi-finals, it will determine if you win a medal or go home empty handed. My goal entering the competition was "To make it to Friday", I kept on saying it to the team. We gave it our all in the presentation and faced stiff questions from the judges following. Then in the feedback session we faced incredibly harsh criticism from our judges. This made us even more emotional as after feedback we had a feeling we would lose. However, the judges make the decision that Guelph-Humber win's in a score of 6-5. The amount of relief that filled my chest was so immense and I saw that same expression on my teammates faces. We all shed a few tears after that decision.

Semi Finals comes around and it's against some folks that we've come to love spending time with at the competition; the team from Dublin. These people are some of the nicest and most fun individuals and competing against them after watching their quarter-finals performance was a treat. We were so supportive to each-other. There would be no team I'd rather face off with because if there was a team I'd want to lose to, it would be them. The case was straight in our wheel house and ultimately we were able to win 7-4 on Friday morning. After lunch, we find out that in the finals we will be playing Rotterdam. We had heard rumors of their superb presentation skills after their win against Concordia in the quarter finals without a PowerPoint deck due to technical difficulties. Therefore, we knew for our final presentation we had to bring our best.

The final case as mentioned earlier was KidZania. A 25 page monster of a case. After finishing the read the team was caught with indecision. We were overburdened with information and were having a tough time deciding on the correct strategy. Eventually we come to an agreement but not without the crazy amounts of stress realizing there is so little time to put a championship worthy deck together. However, something our coach always told us is STRATEGY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. If you get the strategy right you can win the competition. I don't think I've ever created an implementation as fast as I had during those 3 hours. Within a blink of an eye, our preparation time finishes and we are escorted to this large auditorium that filled with maybe 30 rows by 10 seats with maybe 25 of them filled up. Our esteemed judges introduce themselves and we begin. Check out our live streamed finals presentation below.

After the presentation we now anxiously await the gala to hear the results. We had felt good about our presentation but we were unable to watch Rotterdam and thus we had no clue if we had won or not.

The Conclusion To NIBS

We arrive to the gala but, I'll save you the details on the dinner and events that followed. After a few amazing speeches by the founder of NIBS, the University of PEI's organizing committee chair Mary Whitrow, NIBS President Hans Oudheusden van and Vice President Robin Ritchie, alongside thanking the judges, sponsors and volunteers it was time for the awards. Our friends at St. Mary's & Dublin were able to take home a shared 3rd place in the competition. Then they called up to the stage Guelph-Humber and Rotterdam. Robin starts to speak and our team starts to hold hands and then this happens:

We had climbed NIBS mountain and placed our flag. This moment means an incredible deal to me. It's like a sunrise after a long a brutal hike up a mountain, you've scrapped your legs, dirt covers your face and when you get to the top you just bask over the sunrise in the valley between two mountains. You stand in awe. That's how I felt.

This result would not have been possible without my teammates Jhanvi Jamindar , Shirin Monga & Priya Rajkumar to which I say you exceed expectations time and time again. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish. We have been through the muck, the trenches and days when everyone seems to be at their lowest and we never lost sight of our goal. We did it, we are world champions! I am incredibly grateful to have been and continue to be your teammates in life.

I need to thank our coach Justin Medak. He has been instrumental in my growth and in many ways has been a mentor to me both in competition and in life. He inspires us to consistently grow and empowers us to learn. He is a shining star in Guelph-Humber and I am grateful for the relationship we have. You're the worlds best coach!

I need to also thank many of the other individuals that helped us get here: Conor Kelly, Cristina Morrone, Pankush Jhamat, Emma Lal, Charlie Janthur & George Bragues. Your commitment to helping us achieve this has been immense and I thank you as this is just as much a win for us as it is for you. I also thank our student ambassador while at the competition Khaled Ehab as he went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure everything was taken care of for us. Thank you for your dedication Khaled! Finally....

Underdog Mentality. All In.

To My Fellow Competitors

I must say, NIBS would not be what it was without you. You are the reason that it is my favorite university experience to date. The memories I made through our in-prompt-to conversations during the opening gala and following days of competition. To the dinner we had with the InterMetro team from Puerto Rico. To the many friends from LSBU, Heilbronn, IBA, Dublin, Bishops & EPHCC made on the bus exploring PEI on Thursday thank you for the wonderful memories and anytime you happen to come to Canada, come visit the team in Toronto. To the teams I wish I had more time to hang out with during the competition: Rotterdam, AVANS, UCLL, SE Missouri, St. Mary's, UNIS & UPEI, I look forward to hopefully crossing paths again at another competition or anytime you're come to Ontario. To everyone at the gala and following parties on Friday night; you are truly a wild bunch of people that I am proud to call friends and comrades in competition. I thank you all for making NIBS 2019 a truly special moment in my life and in my heart. I hope to see you again soon. I know each of you will be successful in your own careers and I look forward to watching your success.

Much love, dedicated to my NIBS 2019 tribe


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