After spending a continuous 24 hours developing an international business strategy, an undergraduate team of management students from Brigham Young University placed first at the Center for International Business Education and Research Case Challenge.
The BYU team beat students from other top international business programs including Università Bocconi in Italy, Instituto Tecnológico Autónoma de México in Mexico and Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management in France.
The 12 participating university teams were to design a strategy to enter the European market for Valient Pharmaceuticals, a company based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.
The 2007 BYU team consisted of seniors Jake Kirkham, a finance major from Atlanta; Solomon Lee, a finance major from Kahuku, Hawaii; Jorge Mazal, a marketing major from Argentina; and Laura Thompson, a marketing major from Laguna Hills, Calif. Coaching the team were professors Bill Baker, Bruce Money and Liz Dixon.
“When it was 4 a.m. and our project needed to be finished in three hours, each member of the team gathered their strength and pulled together,” Kirkham said. “I felt that no one on the team was in the competition for personal gain but looked to help each other.”
The competition included two rounds of judging. During both the preliminary and final rounds, teams presented their case analysis to industry judges and participated in a 20-minute question-and-answer session, where judges assumed the role of company management.
“The BYU presentation was very crisp, and it followed an overarching theme, which made the strategy memorable to the judges,” says professor Dixon, who went with the team to Ohio.
The team focused its strategy on developing the company’s dermatology line and distribution with the proposition of entering the cosmetology market. This strategy led them to the final round, along with the University of Texas at Austin and Audencia Nantes Ecole de Management of France.Dixon says the judges were very impressed with the BYU business strategy. “The team was very creative in their strategy and was able to support its choice to focus on dermatology. After the presentation, one of the judges said he would hire them on the spot.”