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BYU undergraduate business team takes first in international case competition

A team of four Marriott School undergraduate business students took first place at the inaugural Center for International Business Education and Research Case Competition at Ohio State University Nov. 3-5. The BYU team competed with students from universities in Hong Kong, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico and the United States to take top honors at the competition sponsored by the Fisher School of Business at Ohio State University and in part by the U.S. Department of Education.

"We went into the weekend not knowing what really to expect," says Dan Duckworth, one of the four BYU team members. "After the first round, we were just grateful it was over. But once we were announced as finalists and completed the second round, we knew we had done something."

Bruce Money, associate professor of marketing and international business, selected and advised the team composed of Duckworth, from American Fork, Utah; Amy Nash, from Pocatello, Idaho; Nathan Lee, from Los Alamitos, Calif.; and Brent Dance, from Fall City, Wash. The team analyzed cases weekly with Money during the semester to prepare for the competition.

The student teams, representing 12 universities, were each given 24 hours to complete a case analysis and presentation to improve the profitability of a Brazilian steel company. The following day, with less than one hour of sleep, the BYU team presented their plan to two different panels of industry judges.

The BYU team took an unconventional approach to the case, focusing on increasing revenue rather than reducing costs to boost the company's profits. They focused on growing a niche segment of the steel industry while other teams recommended expanding to China to reduce costs.

"The judges were excited to hear a solution other than exporting to China," Money says. "Their unique solution of a focused product line coupled with the team's engaging presentation skills created an explosive combination that caught everyone's attention. When they presented, you could hear a pin drop on the carpeted floor."

In addition to their innovative ideas, the BYU team was singled out by fellow participants and professionals for their professionalism and solid presentation skills.

"I wasn't as concerned with winning as I was on developing a presentation that was so logical and well-supported that every team competing against us would say, 'You know what, they're right. Why didn't we think of that?'" says Nash. "Even before the awards banquet, a number of participants were coming up and expressing that very sentiment to us. It was overwhelming."

The competition included teams from Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), Georgia Institute of Technology, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (China), Ohio State University, San Diego State University, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico), University of Dublin (Ireland), University of Michigan, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The competition enriched my education, causing me to recall what I have studied in my classes and apply it in a pressure-packed, real-life situation," Dance says. "As an undergraduate I am very grateful to have participated in this rare opportunity."

Writer: Cari Thomas

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