Praise for bright ideas
Kevin Lam, chief operating officer of corporate and investment banking at Citi Hong Kong, was one of the judges of this year's Citi International Case Competition (CICC). He says that he and his colleagues had a tough job.
"The overall quality was so good and all the students had really tried their best," he says. "And the content, overall, was very strong."
When deliberating on their decisions, Lam adds, the judges had several factors to consider. "We had to ask ourselves who has the better presentation, who has the better delivery, who has the better content and who performs better under pressure during the Q&A sessions."
One of the features of the CICC that struck Professor Kalok Chan, acting dean of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School, was the range of recommendations the teams devised - despite the fact that they were all tackling the same case.
"They all came up with different ideas, backed up by facts to support their arguments and recommendations. I was impressed at how smooth the presentation of their ideas was, given that they only had 24 hours to prepare and work out their strategies," he says.
But Chan doesn't think style won out over substance. While the teams' delivery may have been slick, he found that there was real depth as well. "Whenever the judges asked them questions in the Q&A, they always had some additional slides and information to offer," he says.
In the same way that trainee pilots have flight simulators, business students have case competitions - it is a way of recreating the sort of trying situations that they may face in their future careers. For Lam, the participants in this year's CICC passed the test with flying colours.
"They really displayed a real-world approach," he says. "It was similar to the way in which I would tackle issues and handle my internal ... and external clients."
He also found the level of team co-operation exemplary. "In the real world, you have to collaborate and perform as a team, and getting four individuals to act so well together as a team [in the CICC] under such pressure is spectacular."
Chan was delighted that the HKUST team won for the second straight year. "I saw they had put in a great performance, but it is unbelievable that they won again."