Jan. 17, 2023Print | PDF
Congratulations to students Vivek Bhardwaj, Sia Bhaskar, Harleen Grewal, and Arnav Hiremath for being awarded first place at the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition (SG-FECC) at the University of Vermont’s (UVM) Grossman School of Business. This is the fourth year in a row that the Lazaridis School team has taken the top spot. Competing against nine other schools in the undergraduate competition, these members of the Laurier Case Team did an incredible job representing the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University on the international stage.
SG-FECC is the first global case competition to focus on family businesses, creating unique challenges for students to solve. Participants applying the knowledge and expertise developed in the classroom to understand and solve critical issues unique to family enterprises.
This year marked the 10th annual competition at UVM and brought together 19 teams – 10 undergraduate and 9 graduate, from 12 countries around the world. 96 competitors and coaches, and more than 50 judges came together from January 11-14 for an exciting schedule including a pre-arrival case, with time to prepare before the competition, and two four-hour cases, before the division finalists competed for the title. There were also numerous social opportunities to meet and network with teams from other institutions including a welcome reception, dinner with karaoke, and museum exhibits.
In addition to taking the first-place win, two of the Lazaridis School students were recognized with “Best Undergraduate Presenter” awards, which acknowledge depth of analysis, conviction, and grace when presenting. Harleen Grewal received the award in the divisional competition, and Sia Bhaskar in the final presentation.
Of the team, faculty advisor, prof. Carayannopoulos said, “Their performance and their interactions with the other teams added to our global brand equity as a high-quality program of students who are also wonderful people.”
Thank you to coaches Sean Cameron, Matthew Donovan, Rona He, Mackenzie Oldfield, Grant Meaney, Daniel Roytman, and Sofy Carayannopoulos for your guidance and support.
We asked the team about their experience at SG-FECC 2023. Hear more about what they have to say:
Q: What was the role of the faculty advisor and how did they help your team prepare?
Professor Sofy Carayannopoulos’ continuous support and coaching to develop the SG-FECC team is unmatched. The success of the team is truly a testament to what good coaching can accomplish over such a short term. Since forming the team in late November, prof. Carayannopoulos has sacrificed her time, even over the holiday break, to ensure the team was successful. We are incredibly appreciative of the time and effort she has spent over the last eight weeks to foster the team’s success – from choosing cases, watching presentations, and providing extensive feedback, the team could not have made it here without her.
Beyond academic support, prof. Carayannopoulos was the “team mom” that we didn’t know we needed. The team could always rely on a smiling face and positive attitude to bring morale up when the competition got intense. Her unwavering care allowed us to prosper within and outside of the competition.
The lessons taught in class can only take a student so far. Having the opportunity to apply concepts through experiential learning with support from a coach like prof. Carayannopoulos means students can actualize the potential they have.
Q: Tell us about the case questions. What concepts were you exploring? What solutions did you present?
The SG-FECC competition explored the application of family business concepts. The cases touched on concepts such as board governance, ownership structure, voting rights, succession, and more broadly, expansion strategies. The team was able to apply concepts from all facets of Laurier’s Bachelor of Business Administration program including, human resources, marketing, finance, and strategy.
The team participated in three cases over three days and the culmination of these efforts led the team to finals. During finals, the team was tasked with determining effective market penetration strategies in China for a winery based out of Argentina. The team was also tasked with addressing work-life balance issues and the informal governance structures that would hinder the family-business. The team presented a unique solution to utilize a 0% export tariff from Chile to China compared to the 14% export tariff from Argentina to China. This strategy effectively reduced costs for further reinvestment to focus on adapting product marketing to Chinese consumers.
Q: If you travelled for this case competition, where did you go and what experiences did you get participate in outside of the competition?
The team travelled to Burlington, Vermont in the U.S. and the University of Vermont hosted the competition. A cool experience the team was able to experience was visiting the very first Ben & Jerry’s shop that was opened in the world. It was a great experience to see where the business started and where it has grown since. The team also was able to learn from and become friends with people from all over the world, including Mexico, Columbia, Netherlands, Thailand, India, United States, and more.
Q: Where was the competition held, and what other schools did you compete against?
The competition was held at the University of Vermont. Participating schools in the undergraduate league include Bishop’s University, University of Vermont, Universidad de los Andes, Toronto Metropolitan University, University Panamericana, Maastricht University, University of Prince Edward Island, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Dublin City University, and Arizona State University.
Q: How did you get involved in competing in case competitions? What interested you and/or who inspired you to join the Laurier Case Team.
Vivek: As a Computer Science and BBA Double Degree student, the opportunity to integrate my knowledge in real life business cases helps make a test bed to see what works, what doesn’t, and the reasons for why certain solutions are tools for success.
Arnav: In first year, I quickly involved myself in Laurier’s investment club. The club provided me with mentorship opportunities from upper years who applied their knowledge via the Laurier Case Team. Immediately, I knew that LCT would be the best way to combine qualitative and quantitative skills and challenge myself intellectually.
Sia: After hearing about the overwhelming success of the Laurier Case Team in BU111, I knew I wanted the opportunity to represent Laurier on a global scale. Training with the case team every week has allowed me to develop my critical thinking and presentation skills.
Harleen: As I wrap up the last year of my degree at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, I hope to culminate the countless experiences I have gathered from the BBA program and effectively apply the knowledge I have obtained to represent Wilfrid Laurier University on an international scale.
Q: Without giving away any secrets, how much time is involved in preparing yourselves to be ready for a case competition?
The team spent eight weeks preparing for the competition, running simulations of the four-hour closed-book presentations to ensure we were ready for the case format. Beyond this, the team spent several hours researching and ramping up knowledge on family businesses. In total, the team spent 150+ hours collectively preparing for SG-FECC.
Q: To end things off, can you tell us a fun story, or something interesting about your teammates?
At the opening banquet, the participating schools were told to introduce themselves to the rest of the participants. Our team used this as an opportunity to poke fun at ourselves and introduce each other in fun and whacky ways. This was topped off with the inclusion of prof. Carayannopoulos who also made hilarious remarks. The team was later applauded by competitors on our ability to not take ourselves too seriously and keeping it fun and light, despite the competitive format.