If presenting a business plan to company management isn’t stressful enough, try doing it in another language. But Brigham Young University teams kept their cool at the Business Language Case Competition last month, placing first and third in the newly added Mandarin Chinese section. BYU also took third in Portuguese.
“It was a good simulation of how international business is conducted,” said Matthew Eley, a junior from Denver, Colo., studying Chinese and management. “We learned how to make international business models and decisions and how to sell those ideas to the heads of the company — the judges.”
Eley, a member of BYU’s first-place Chinese team, attributed the win to an understanding of both a country’s business culture as well as language proficiency.
The BYU-hosted competition attracted 22 teams from 16 universities across the country, including the University of Washington, Purdue University and Vanderbilt University. Students were charged to analyze, present and negotiate their solutions to complex business cases provided two weeks prior. Teams competed in either Chinese, Portuguese or Spanish.
This year’s competition, which was also sponsored by Michigan State University and University of Miami, saw its largest number of entries, with more than half of participants competing in the Spanish section.
Diego Flores, a Spanish-section judge from Quito, Ecuador, was particularly impressed with students’ mastery of the business and linguistic aspects of the presentations and the students’ ability to think on their feet.
“They have great minds, a very good understanding of business and also a skillful management of the language,” Flores said. “Those who speak really well have a huge advantage in the competition. That’s also true in the real world.”
Sherstin Creamer, program coordinator at BYU's Kay and Yvonne Whitmore Global Management Center, says language skills are the key to international business, and BYU students are opening many doors of opportunity with their second-language proficiencies.
“Students get stuck in the mindset that they can only use their language for translating. We want them to see the bigger picture,” Creamer says. “Knowing a second language will open doors for networking and for building relationships that are not available to professionals who only speak English.”
In the Chinese section, BYU took first and third with University of Washington placing second. In Portuguese, BYU–Idaho took first followed by Utah State University and BYU. The University of Miami placed first in the Spanish section with the University of Utah and Indiana University placing second and third, respectively. First-place teams received a $1,000 prize.
For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at marriottschoool.byu.edu/news.
Writer: Carrie Akinaka