By Tom Norwell, January 31, 2012

Thanks to Christiane Garcia and Boardroom Metrics, this month I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a Judge in Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business International Case Competition.

Initially, I had no idea what a “Case Competition” was but quickly came to realize the magnitude of this particular competition by the number of schools participating. Over 40 schools from all over the world compete annually in this competition with more than 250 Judges presiding.  Over a five day period there are five cases presented by each team to a panel of five judges each.   From that, 4 schools compete in semi and final cases.  The students are judged on seven criteria; Definition of Key Issues, Analysis, Evaluation of alternatives, Recommend course of action, Implementation plan, Handling of questions and Presentation effectiveness.  Schools compete head to head by presenting to the panel and the panel scores the two teams on a scale of eleven (i.e. 7-4, 6-5, 8-3, etc.).

There are; short (one page), and long (30-40 page) cases.  However, the most compelling is the ‘Live Case’ where a company comes in with their senior executives and presents their particular business case to the participants and the judges concurrently.  In each of the cases the students have an hour to develop their presentation to the panel.  The students are limited of the written case itself, calculators, and acetate overheads to prepare their presentations.  No internet, no PowerPoint, no research materials.   At that stage each team, made up of four students and one alternative, has forty five minutes to present with a 15 minute Q&A from the judges.

I sat on a panel on four cases; one short, one long, the Live Case (CGI) and one semi final ‘long’ case.

What impressed me the most was the knowledge and presentation skills of these young people.

If they’re an indication of the talent that we are preparing to take on the business challenges of tomorrow I’ll rest a little easier.  Each team was well prepared and articulate in their presentations.  With a little practical knowledge and experience under their belts they’ll be well equipped to; consult to, manage, and lead the next generation of businesses.

A thoroughly worthwhile and rewarding experience.