College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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It's Catching: International Case Competition Focuses on Flu and Vaccines


4/10/2006

Influenza, vaccines, and millions of dollars were the focal point of a business case competition that took place on Saturday.
The event was held by CIBER, the Center for International Business Education and Research. Groups of students from varying backgrounds presented their case in front of a panel of judges.
This year, the competition let students take the role of a Flu Vaccine testing firm that had received a contract to provide test kits for influenza vaccines.  The students had to judge which of three locations, Champaign, Illinois, Biloxi, Mississippi, or Jieyong, China, would be the best place for production of the test kits. 
"This competition represents what real world consulting and risk analysis is like," said Lynnea Johnson, associate director of CIBER.  "The case is really relevant to what's going on right now in the world."
The event was planned to help students experience international business in a hands on situation.
"We want to help students think internationally and deal across borders," said Lynnea Johnson. "We want to start students thinking about issues involved in international business."
The teams analyzed each location based on its strengths and weaknesses, and made a report to the judges detailing which location they had picked and why.  The judges would then evaluate the group based on their presentation, depth of research, and analysis. Smart Global Solutions, one of the groups participating in the competition, noticed that there was no right answer.
"It's interesting to see what everybody else came up with," said Jake Fleming, a student in finance and part of Smart Global Solutions. "It's all about best supporting your own answer."
Smart Global Solutions came fourth in the competition, behind LTMS, Dream Team, and Asterisks, who came in third, second and first respectively.  Over 2000 dollars were handed out to the four finalists as prizes. 
"I'm going to use the money to pay bills," said Tonia Shen, a senior in computer engineering from group LTMS. Similar sentiments were echoed by other groups who planned to use the cash to reduce their credit card debt. 
Besides financial gain, students found the competition to be a helpful learning experience.
"We definitely gained some great research and presentation skills," said Kyle Harlow, a student in finance from team Smart Global Solutions. "When you do job interviews, this will be a great story to tell."
The winning team, the asterisks, felt they learned a lot from the multidisciplinary approach they took on the case.
"We've learned how to work as a team and listen to each other," said Michael Wiggers, junior in LAS. "We really got involved with a lot of different departments, and we're glad we invested the effort"
One of the judges, Joseph Finnerty, professor in finance, believed the students would take a lot from the competition.
"The students use both practice and theory in their presentations," he said. "We lead students to realize that team interaction is equally important as individual ability."

--Lane Song

UIUC College of Business