Fox students take first place at CIBER Case Challenge
Fox School students took home the first-place prize, two individual awards and one honorable mention at the seventh annual CIBER Case Challenge in Columbus.
Hosted by The Ohio State University’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), the competition brings together 15 teams from the United States, Europe and Asia to analyze and present an international business case to judges. Each team consists of four members who are split up and placed with students from other schools for the competition. Courtney Miller, Mohamed Ali Niang, Aniruddha Shyamasundar and Tereze Sinno made up the team from Temple’s CIBER, based at the Fox School.
Niang was a member of this year’s first-place team, Catalyst Solutions. Individually, Niang and Sinno both earned best question-and-answer awards in the preliminary round, while Niang also took the final round honorable mention award.
Niang said the case told the story of a company that, after several failed attempts to bring water filtration systems to developing countries, decided to focus on providing irrigation to the U.S. market. The teams’ challenge: to decide whether this was a wise, profitable move.
But with 23 hours to prepare and only 20 minutes to present in each round, their task was not easy – not to mention that the students must collaborate with peers they have known only a day-and-a-half.
The night before he presented with his team – which also included Georgia State University’s Olufunke Taiwo, Ohio State’s Kai Song and the University of Maryland’s Jennifer He – Niang only got three hours of sleep, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Morale and energy were low. But after the team’s first round, things started to improve.
“We went from thinking, ‘I don’t want to get out of bed because we’re going to lose,’ to ‘Maybe we’re going to win,’” Niang said. His team recommended the hypothetical company continue its overseas efforts to allow for a profitable, sustainable business that “could save thousands,” he said.
“If you can’t succeed abroad, how are you going to succeed here (in the U.S.) with so much competition?” he added. “We’re not just talking about business. We’re talking about how to do well by doing good.”
The competition is not so much a business experience, but a “life experience,” Niang said. Assistant Professor of Strategic Management Arun Kumaraswamy, the Temple team coach, tried to convey that message during the seven weeks of practices leading to the competition.
“One main priority for me was to get them to remember the theories that they were taught – they are important – but, at the same time, make allowances for the uncertainty and incompleteness inherent in real-life situations,” Kumaraswamy said.
Kumaraswamy has coached the teams for the last three years. Both first-place teams at the last two competitions included one student from Fox.
“He’s the common denominator,” Temple CIBER Director Kim Cahill said of the students’ back-to-back successes under Kumaraswamy’s leadership. “Temple CIBER is very grateful for his voluntary leadership of this important initiative.”
Kumaraswamy, however, declined to take credit for these successes.
“This is like basketball. The coach can draw the plays and motivate from the sidelines. But, in the end, it’s the players who improvise and perform during game-time to get the win,” he said. “So, the students deserve much of the credit for their performance.”
– Chelsea Calhoun