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HKUST team aim above and beyond

Published on Friday, 25 Oct 2013
Paul Forster

It is understandable that Professor Chris Doran looks back with some pride at his university’s triumph in the 2012 contest.

“Although learning from taking part is most important, it is even better to win,” says Doran, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and coach of HKUST’s team in the 11th Citi International Case Competition.

“We had been runners-up several times before, but the team did a great job to win last year,” he adds.

A particularly international mix of undergraduates has been selected to represent HKUST this year, with Hongkongers Kenny Ng Cheuk-him and Jessica Kwok joined by Falk Christoph Seiler from Germany and Liang Shuyu from Taiwan. All four are studying on the university’s Global Business programme.

Liang believes that the pressure of coming up with well thought-out recommendations in just 24 hours will be the greatest challenge.

“Usually, when you get stuck, you can take your mind off it and then come back to the problem later on, but given the time constraints in this competition, that will be very difficult,” she says.

The quartet has tried to ensure it will not be knocked off-balance by the nature of the case that is thrown at them. “We’ve researched the characteristics of different markets and also the dynamics of a variety of industries,” Kwok says.

Seiler says he has learned from the 2012 team that any good work done in preparing recommendations can be undone if the team doesn’t actively engage with the judges. “This is straightforward, but sometimes forgotten, given the many other points that presenters have to consider for the presentation,” he says.

Despite any nerves, however, the team is eagerly anticipating the contest. Ng is especially excited about two scheduled events.

“I’m particularly looking forward to the social activities, where you get to know people from around the world, and the company visit, where we acquire in-depth knowledge of the case,” he says.

Doran, who has coached a number of teams for international case competitions, believes that the success of last year’s quartet can be a source of inspiration for the 2013 team.

“It proved that Hong Kong students are capable of matching the best in the world at combining creative and analytical thinking, working as a unified team, and delivering polished presentations,” he says. “Now that we know that achieving that world-class standard is possible, it inspires our students to keep up with this standard and go beyond.”

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