When the world went remote, students studying international business at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln chose to stay connected by competing in virtual teams in the inaugural Global Case Competition to solve a global business challenge. Much like current real-world global business teams, students worked together virtually and presented their business plans through Zoom.
“Right before we were sent home, the international business staff held a meeting where we could share our own opinions and ideas for how we envisioned the competition happening virtually. It was great to be able to contribute firsthand to the success and continuation of the competition,” explained Meghan Schuette, freshman international business major from Omaha, Nebraska, and part of the competition’s winning team.
The competition transformed into a two-round online competition due to the collaboration between the International Business Program at the College of Business and the students competing. The first round included a video submission and the last round involved a virtual presentation.
Eleven teams competed, including some with students in several time zones. Over the course of 10 days, students tackled the competition’s interdisciplinary case, which represented the realities of a highly competitive business environment. They conducted market research and developed a business plan to expand global market share for the competition’s sponsor, Coloplast.
A Danish multinational company, Coloplast develops, manufactures and markets medical devices and services related to ostomy, urology, continence and wound care. Coloplast President Steve Blum, ’85, was impressed by the substance of their presentations as well as their resilience.
“We have all learned different ways to demonstrate flexibility during this difficult COVID-19 period. The students embraced their virtual circumstances. It was exciting to see their engagement and energy. There was no loss of enthusiasm, nor was there the perception that the experience was less compelling or lost due to the digital platform,” said Blum.
Remote collaboration proved to be a challenge at times. However, students discovered some hidden benefits to working via virtual settings.
“When you’re working remotely, time constraints aren’t as much of an issue because we can just hop on Zoom and not have to worry about finding a meeting room,” said Ryan Nyffeler, freshman economics and finance major from Omaha and member of the first place team.
Presenting through Zoom provided Connor Bourdreau with more confidence during the presentation. The third member of the winning team utilized the advantages of the virtual platform.
“I could see everything happening and everyone’s reactions, and that isn’t typically available when presenting in person. The flexibility of technology being able to present things when you want and how you want was a great benefit,” said the freshman actuarial science major from Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Dr. Kalu Osiri, director of the International Business Program, believes the adaptability displayed by participants illustrates how the Nebraska Business community comes together to overcome difficulty. Together, they successfully hosted the college’s first virtual case competition.
“Successfully adjusting this competition to be held virtually speaks to the ingenuity and hard work valued by our community. Not only did our students rise to this challenge but also our judges and professionals who joined us for the presentations. In my mind, everyone is a winner,” said Osiri.
Winning teams included:
- First place, prize of $3,000: Boudreau, Nyffeler and Schuette
- Second place, prize of $1,500: Daniel Elsner, sophomore supply chain management and analytics major from Minneapolis; Makayla O’Hara, freshman international business major from Lincoln, Nebraska; and Daichi Yukinawa, sophomore finance major from Ichikawa, Japan
- Third place, prize of $500: Sam Gertner, freshman accounting major from Monroe, Connecticut; Damien Niyonshuti, freshman integrated science major form Kigali, Rwanda; and Alex Zlatic, freshman actuarial science and finance major from Bloomington, Illinois
To learn more about the International Business Program, visit: https://business.unl.edu/ib.