Students excel in Asia Pacific Business Case Competition

18 July 2017

A team from the University of Auckland has triumphed at the world’s largest business case competition in Hong Kong.

The undergraduate students from the Law and Business schools competed against elite university teams from around the world including groups from Singapore, Mexico, Canada and the United States,  to place second runner-up in the 2017 Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) / Hong Kong University (HKU) Asia Pacific Business Case Competition, winning USD2,000.

The University of Auckland team consisted of students Jonathan Chisholm, Noel D’Souza, Micah Hill Smith, and Emma Sun. They were trained by Brendon Potter, Student Development Manager and graduate Rhea Sampoornanand, who took part in the 2016 contest while still a student. She was thrilled to be invited back as an external coach for this year’s team.

Designed to nurture future leaders by bridging the gap between academia and the commercial world, the competition enhances the business literacy of the students by challenging them to come up with creative and feasible solutions to solve real-life business cases. It is also designed to promote diversity and inclusion through international exchanges among the participating students.


Now in its tenth year, the event featured 24 teams taking part in four rounds of intense competition. Contestants are given a business case and have two and a half hours to read, analyse and develop a strategy along with an implementation and financial plan, which they then present in twenty minutes. One team is knocked out during each round.

The University’s team spent five weeks training with their coaches Brendon and Rhea in preparation for the high pressure, face-paced event. The final round involved analysing the Korean Pop (K-Pop) industry and developing a plan to globally expand the art form.

The winning teams are those able to demonstrate their understanding of business and industry strategies by arriving at creative solutions, as well as fluent presentation skills and quick-wittedness when responding to questions from the panel judges.

“It really tests their ability to think logically and creatively under a short time frame,” says Rhea. As well as enjoying the experience it also changed her career path, she now works in the Strategy & Operations Consulting field.

“Prior to becoming involved in the Business Case Competition I was planning to be a lawyer, but I found the business problem-solving incredibly satisfying and it encouraged me to move into the area of business consulting” she says.

The team’s prize money will go back into a fund to assist next year’s HSBC/HKU Business Case Competition students, with the costs of taking part.

“The competition teaches students the importance of collaborating,” says Rhea. “One aspect of the team’s success is ensuring that we always help pull the next person up the ladder,” she says.