CIBER Case Challenge Draws from U.S., Italy and South Africa

Students from eight universities, two of them international, participated in an ice-breaker at the Makerspace experimental lab at the Werth Tower, as a prelude to the Annual UConn CIBER Case Challenge. (Nathan Oldham/UConn School of Business)
Students from eight universities, two of them international, participated in an ice-breaker at the Makerspace experimental lab at the Werth Tower, as a prelude to the Annual UConn CIBER Case Challenge. (Nathan Oldham/UConn School of Business)

The UConn Center for International Business and Education Research (CIBER) held its 15th annual case competition this month, hosting global-minded business students during a four-day event.

Before tackling the case challenge, the students, who had traveled from as far away as Italy and South Africa, engaged in team-building exercises, discussed innovation with industry experts, and networked with other like-minded students.

This year’s case focused on corporate social responsibility for an Australian company that excavates and refines natural reserves in the area’s quarries to produce building materials. Students examined the case to form solutions about how to address a growing customer base, while anticipating federal regulations and maintaining econ-conscious practices.

“The CIBER Case Challenge suddenly places participants in a diverse environment. Then case prep starts and you watch the rapid learning and sharing that needs to happen. The students were quick on their feet,” said senior Luke Harper. The marketing major participated in last year’s competition and organized this year’s event. “These business students are hand-picked by their university, some from across the country or the world and you see everyone at the top of their game. It’s exciting to watch the event play out.”

Alumna Allegra Klein, ’18 MBA and Michele Metcalf, director of the CIBER program, share a light moment during the event. (Arminda Kamphausen, UConn School of Business)
Alumna Allegra Klein, ’18 MBA and Michele Metcalf, director of the CIBER program, share a light moment during the event. (Arminda Kamphausen, UConn School of Business)

Participating teams came from Purdue University, University of Trento (Italy), University of Johannesburg (South Africa), University of Maryland at College Park, University of Vermont, Belmont University, Florida State and UConn. They represented various majors within the business discipline.

“A huge part of a successful presentation during the competition relied on our team getting along so well,” said Brenna Kelly, a senior marketing major. “The team activities let us figure out our group dynamic, so we felt prepared to get started right away when we received the case.

“I feel more prepared for this type of project team in the future, and it could make me a better candidate for jobs that require interpersonal skills, especially in the marketing field,” said Kelly, who was on the third-place team and received the award for best presenter. “The case competition will definitely be a valuable talking point for interviews, too.”

Other UConn participants included Abigail Marshall, Christine Savino and Noah Sobel-Pressman.

Arminda Kamphausen, associate director of the CIBER program, said each year a case is chosen that provides students with the chance to learn about a global business issue that will stretch both their formal education and their personal growth.

Judges hailed from a variety of businesses, including LEGO, Northeastern University, Timex, Connecticut Sustainable Business Council and PwC. One of the co-authors of the business case, David Wesley of Northeastern University, served as a final-round judge.

Additionally, Greg Lennox, the new product development manager at Rock Trade Industries, the company featured in the case, was live-streamed into the final round and asked each team a question regarding a current business problem.