Fisher students with raised arms in the form of O for O-H-I-O while holding a Case Competition sign

Travelling abroad, meeting new people and experiencing new countries and cultures expands minds and perspectives. Competing in international case competitions expands students’ experiences by providing opportunities to solve real-world business challenges, become more agile and resilient, challenge assumptions and grow personally and professionally.

From the Netherlands to Canada to Washington state and virtually, several teams of Fisher students experienced the benefits of participating in globally focused case competitions this past academic year. The opportunities allowed the teams of undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their global trade and international business knowledge as well as their research, presentation and networking skills.

RSM STAR Case Competition ― Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Hosted by the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (RSM), the RSM STAR Case Competition nurtured the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of its competitors.

Fisher was one of 16 international teams – including universities from Hong Kong, Korea, British Columbia, Montreal and Singapore – that competed in two real-life business cases, one 12-hour sustainability case and one 24-hour sustainability and energy transition case.

Team members wearing matching blue Case Competition sweatshirts
From left, Ty Shepfer, Austin Smith, Darshita Bajoria, Andrea Hefferan and John Piehowicz at the RSM Star Case Competition.

Fisher’s undergraduate team consisted of: Darshita Bajoria, third-year finance student; Andrea Hefferan, fourth-year marketing and design thinking student; John Piehowicz, third-year finance and human resources student; and Austin Smith, fourth-year finance and Spanish student.

With a theme of “Uniting Ambition for a Decade,” the competition challenged students to showcase their business acumen, encourage innovative thinking, pioneer solutions for business, management and society and make their mark in the business world.

“The value of Rotterdam was meeting not peers and not colleagues, but friends: lifelong connections we will always keep in touch with, no matter how our paths may cross” said Piehowicz. “Rotterdam brought together people, crossing paths drawn in the sand of our lives, and forging meaningful connections with people we may seldom see, but frequently remember.”

The competition was the first for Fisher’s team. They found themselves facing a significant gap in knowledge and approach compared to other teams more familiar with the preparation required. The experience, however, was an extremely valuable one, Bajoria said.

“During the 12-hour case competition, we had to overcome numerous initial hurdles, trying to understand the competition's format and expectations, but it taught us valuable lessons that we applied to better prepare for the 24-hour case,” she said. “Both cases were complex, and there were times when we questioned whether our solutions truly addressed the case prompts. Despite these uncertainties and hurdles, we learned a lot about navigating challenges and overcoming uncertainty as a team.”

Hefferan agreed.

“The biggest challenge we had was time management and deciding when to go forward with an idea,” she said. “There were times that we wanted to scrap everything and start over, but we had spent so much time researching ideas that we had to move forward with an idea and present it as the best idea.”

Four students in front of room with presentation projected on screen
Fisher's team presents their case in front of the competition judges.

Despite the challenges, Fisher finished second in its division for both competitions and tied for seventh overall.

“The team performed incredibly well for not being trained in case competitions, competing against students who had participated in multiple competitions prior to this,” said Ty Shepfer, senior lecturer and academic director of the Master of Human Resource Management Program. “Our students did an amazing job and I’m really proud of them. They represented Ohio State and Fisher well!”

Hefferan said two courses helped her think outside the box when coming up with strategies: design thinking, looking at how to structure problem solving and come up with solutions in novel ways, and sustainable marketing, focusing on the marketing aspects of the case to find ways to convince people to change their habits and switch to sustainable energy even if it is more expensive.

“Our team introduced several innovative ideas looking at sustainability beyond just environmental concerns,” Bajoria said. “We incorporated process, people and planet sustainability, infusing creativity into our solutions including implementing a blockchain-based solution to streamline supply chain management and enhance process sustainability.”

For Bajoria, the competition was a great learning opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

“This experience helped me understand how theoretical concepts translate into actionable strategies and solutions in the business world,” she said. “I learned how to analyze complex problems, develop innovative solutions and understand global business dynamics and the importance of sustainable practices in today's business world. It was incredibly rewarding to see how our ideas could make a tangible impact.”

Global Business Case Competition ― Seattle, Washington

While one team of Fisher students was competing in Rotterdam, a second team was in Seattle at the University of Washington’s Global Business Case Competition.

Students Alina Mueez, a third-year management and information systems student; Jeffrey Liu, a third-year marketing student; Yifei Zhang, a third-year finance student; and Haoxuan Han, a third-year finance student faced off against 10 other teams representing seven countries including Mexico, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Canada.

Four smiling students, one man, three women, in front of Foster Business drapery
From left, Yifei Zhang, Jeffrey Liu, Alina Mueez and Haoxuan Han
at the Global Business Case Competition.

The Global Business Case Competition consisted of a short case challenge and a long case analysis. The short case challenge focused on Tim Horton’s entering the Chinese market. Students were placed on a global team with each team comprised of four different universities. Teams had five hours to analyze the case, devise a solution and create a three-minute presentation with only one PowerPoint slide.

In the long case analysis, teams had 24 hours to devise a solution for Costco and its potential entrance into Brazil, the United Arab Emirates and India. Teams gave a 15-minute presentation and took part in a 10-minute question-and-answer session with a panel of judges.

“The Office of Global Business (OGB) and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) are very proud of our Fisher students for being invited to these case competitions,” said Geoff Nelson, global business operations senior analyst at Fisher’s OGB.

“Not only was this type of global experiential learning opportunity essential for our students to develop a global mindset as they prepare for careers in an increasingly interconnected world, it was also an opportunity for Ohio State CIBER to strengthen our relationship with the University of Washington, which is a fellow CIBER institution.”

The John Molson MBA International Case Competition ― Montreal, Canada

Fisher team member pose behind a large John Molson picture frame
From left, Fisher team members Sai Aelakurthy, Aishat Olokotun, Yi Han and Kate Timmerman at The John Molson MBA International Case Competition.

Fisher MBA students Sai Aelakurthy, Yi Han, Aishat Olokotun and Kate Timmerman participated in The John Molson MBA International Case Competition hosted by Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

The team competed in a round-robin tournament against 29 teams from 12 different countries, winning three of their five case challenges, which included a cosmetic company strategy case, a live case about cultural integration and a human resources strategy case on a four-day work week.

“The team spent weeks learning to work and communicate seamlessly with each other to bring their diverse perspectives to the table to solve organizational challenges,” said Stephanie Wapner, senior lecturer and director of case competitions. “They embodied collaboration, critical thinking, continuous improvement and dedication to the team.”

With only three hours to prepare for each case, the team analyzed and evaluated unpublished business cases relying on only their knowledge, experience and abilities; no internet access was allowed. For each case, their final product demonstrated their ability to dig into a problem, develop a feasible solution and present their strategic plan to a panel of senior business leaders.

“The knowledge and insights I acquired from core courses like organizational behavior, marketing, finance, accounting, economics and operations all came together while we were solving the cases,” Han said.

Focused team members using laptops sitting around a conference table
Fisher students preparing for The John Molson MBA International Case Competition.

While the team ran into a few challenges, they stayed focused on developing a strategic plan, squeezing in just enough time to prepare their presentation despite losing part of their digital presentation during one case.

“Despite this technical issue, we were able to work together to deliver the presentation and eventually win the case,” Han said. “This was truly about group work. We each respected our different backgrounds and opinions and worked together for a solution that everyone contributed to.”

While they didn’t win all their cases, Han said the experience broadened her business acumen.

“I come from an engineering background, so this competition helped me to develop systematic thinking for business problems,” Han said. “It also helped me to think strategically, focus on teamwork, and gain a global perspective.”

BisNet International Case Competition ― Virtual

Earlier in the academic year, nine teams of four undergraduate students each competed in the online Business International Studies Network (BisNet) International Case Competition hosted by Southbridge Access.

Ohio State entered three teams and competed against teams from the University of Maryland, the University of Tennessee and the University of Southern California.

The competition challenged teams to consider options to consolidate Arcos Dorados Colombia’s food delivery service in Colombia. Teams determined which global region’s business environment offered the most suitability and how its strengths and bargaining advantages could be leveraged effectively in the global food delivery market.

Teams were evaluated on the rationale of their recommendations, depth of understanding of the case’s country and industry, quality of presentation and responses to the judges.

Participating in competitions like this gives Fisher’s students the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and connect with professors and business owners from leading multinational organizations in emerging markets, as well as gain experience with time-change issues, different cultures and different political and socioeconomic variables in other countries.

“Global case competitions like BisNet allow our students to apply the knowledge they have gained in the classroom to real business scenarios while networking, competing and learning alongside students from top business programs all over the world,” Nelson said.

“This experience helped me understand how theoretical concepts translate into actionable strategies and solutions in the business world."

Darshita Bajoria Third-year finance student