Carlson team wins competition

by Cati Vanden Breul

A team of four Carlson School of Management seniors defeated 17 other teams from around the world to win the International Business Challenge held in October at the University of Texas at Austin.

This is the first time the University of Minnesota has won the case competition, which the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business has held annually since 1994.

In a case competition, teams are asked to come up with a solution to a real-life business scenario and present their results to a panel of judges.

Carlson School students Chris Hasling, Jeremiah Keehn, Matt Monson and Ryan Jones were selected to compete in the challenge after they won a case competition held against four other Carlson School teams in September.

Each year, the winning Carlson team goes to Texas, said Rick Nelson, finance professor and judge of the Carlson School competition.

“This team was very strong and really well prepared; we were happy to send them,” Nelson said.

Teams at the international competition were asked to develop a growth proposal for a fashion company based in Spain.

Teams were given the 35-page case study Wednesday night and had to present their plans to a panel of seven judges Saturday morning.

“Many teams locked themselves in their rooms for almost 60 straight hours,” said Hasling, a finance and insurance senior.

But the Carlson School students were able to enjoy Austin as well as pull off the win, they said.

“We had more fun than any team down there,” Hasling said. “We knew our case and were confident in our strategy, so we weren’t stressing out.”

In fact, one team member left to go to New York halfway through the competition.

Monson left Thursday morning for an interview and returned Friday night.

Team members said they were able to experience Austin and deal with Monson’s departure because of their strength as a team.

“Each one of us brought different strengths to the table,” said Keehn, a finance and management student.

Monson said, “We handled stress better than the other teams. We knew what we were doing and we worked our butts off.”

However, the students said they were surprised at just how well they did.

“We were just glad to be there, and we didn’t want to be seen as a big joke. We were competing against a laundry list of good schools,” Keehn said.

There were schools from Hong Kong, Norway, Canada, England, Scotland and Thailand, as well as prestigious U.S. universities at the competition.

The Carlson School team competed against Georgetown University, Concordia University in Montreal and the University of Edinburgh in the finals Oct. 23.

The participants had five minutes to give their presentations and judges were given 25 minutes to drill them with questions.

“We were pleasantly surprised – you could say shocked – that we won,” Hasling said.

Keehn said his only disappointment was their second-place finish in the “real-case” competition.

On Saturday night, following the finals, the Carlson School students invited the other teams to their hotel room to see who could down a case of Coronas the fastest.

“I learned more about people over a case of Coronas than in any classroom,” Keehn said.

The students also won the students’ choice award at the challenge, which was sponsored by the Ford Motor Co. and Accenture.