SKK GSB of Sungkyunkwan University held a case study competition last Thursday and Friday in which four teams had to analyze Fonterra, a leading New-Zealand based multinational dairy company struggling to set a sustainable business model despite instable demands of dairy products in the global market. Business Focus asked the winner, Team I, what they learned from the competition. The winner will be awarded over 1.5 million won.
Business Focus(BF): Tell us more about the competition. What was the most difficult part while you were preparing?
Kang Myung-hee: We were very confused when we received a 32-page report at first. Unlike other cases that we have been dealing with during the classes, the Fonterra case contained every aspects of business such as marketing, financing and strategies. We spent half the day on identifying the right questions for setting up a sustainable business model.
Byun Kyu-sun: We had only 18 hours until the deadline, so it was stressful. All of our members slept two hours, which made us eager to win.
BF: How often do you study with cases? How much helpful is it?
Lee Hwa-Su: We deal with approximately 30 cases a month during the class. An MBA program is all about case studies, so we are fairly familiar with it. This one was the toughest one, though, when it comes to making a framework for a sustainable business model. You have to understand the current situation the company is confronted with and the future directions it has to take.
Lee Chang-dong: We compared this case with the ones we had dealt with in order to make up the framework. Studying cases is helpful, as you can come up with many ideas from them when you are faced with similar problems.
BF: Where did you focus in choosing the winning team? Did you have any particular criteria?
Professor James Oldroryd: All the professors have different criteria, but I see mostly if the students can ask right questions and identify right issues with a general management case. This Fonterra case contained so many questions, so they had to identify the most critical one. In this case, it was local versus global _ how much the company can combine globalization and localization, how they can fund that, and how they can reserve their branding. We were looking at how they would rate each issue.
Presentation skills matter in that sense, but how well they could communicate with the audience was more important.
BF: Why you think your team won? What did you learn from this competition?
Byun: Teamwork, definitely. Although we are in the same class for over 6 months, we had never done any group project before. This competition helped us get to know each other and become closer than we were before.
Another key element of the win was cooperation. All our members have different kinds of strengths. Hwa-su supported us mentally as the oldest member and he provided practical advice with his job experiences. Ryu Jong-hyun put some creativity on the PowerPoint as an experienced cook while Chang-dong, Kang and I organized all the ideas.
In this competition, we tested our ability to solve problem and learned how to collaborate with people we had never worked with before. It was stressful, but we had so much fun as well.
Interview by Bahk Eun-ji