Given that 18 teams from top universities in Asia, North America and Europe competed in the 2013 Citi International Case Competition (CICC), taking one of the runner-up spots was no small achievement.
Thammasat University from Thailand, a previous winner of the contest, finished in second place this year. Team member Akkrawin Wetprasit is a BBA student majoring in marketing at the university.
"When we knew we'd made the finals we were surprised," Wetprasit says. "And when we knew we'd got second place, we were actually happy and not disappointed at all. Everything after the final rounds is just an additional joy."
He feels his team was at the top of its game during the competition. "We have two junior-year students with us as well and I think we did pretty well," he says.
Given his team's relative inexperience, Wetprasit feels the quartet handled the pressure very well. "I think our team did a really good job when it came to time management. During our final presentation the judges were allowed to interrupt with questions, so it was really difficult to manage the time for your speech," he says.
Accountancy and finance student Chan Yi was a member of the team from the National University of Singapore which took third place.
"To be honest, I think my team is a little disappointed not to win, but personally, I'm quite okay with it," Chan says. "I think we did a good job and I think my professor is happy with it. Sometimes, it's not all about external validation."
Despite the high intensity of the CICC challenge, Chan still managed to enjoy herself. "I really liked the case - maybe because I'm a girl and it was about jewellery. Sometimes, when you're doing cases at school, they can be pretty boring - about factories and all - but this one was about jewellery, so my online research was about pretty things and that was fun."
Wetprasit concedes that his team was surprised by the nature of the case, which came from Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group. "Typically, in a case competition, you are presented with a company which is facing a problem and you are asked to find a solution," he says. "But in this case, it's such a great company that's been so successful, it seemed that there was no problem to solve," he says.
Chan says her team experienced similar emotions when the case company was revealed. "But it made us think very creatively," she says.