NHH against the world
On Monday 17 September, NHH International Case Competition will be launched. Strong teams from Europe, the USA and China are set to compete alongside the NHH team.
In the course of 24 hours, 11 teams from eight countries are going to compete in solving a case at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
The NHH A-team
Four members of the NHH Case Club who have experience from previous competitions are taking part. They are bachelor’s students Aleksander Ragnvaldsen, Nicolai Christopher Steckmest Sivertsen, Kristian Gjønnes and Stine-Mari Stavik, and they are well prepared.
NHH INTERNATIONAL CASE COMPETITION
The NHH International Case Competition is the northernmost undergraduate case competition in the entire world, located amidst mountains and fjords in the historic city of Bergen, Norway. Talents from 12 of the top business schools in the world gather to solve a real-life business problem.
‘We have trained for cases of different lengths, for example three-hour cases focusing on stress and 24-hour cases aimed at endurance. As well as some lasting five, eight and twelve hours, partly just to keep our motivation up,’ explains Gjønnes with a smile.
The four students have taken part in competitions before, but not together.
‘These training cases are also used to assess what skills the different team members have. It’s also about keeping up to speed on what’s going on and for that, we need to know a bit about different sectors,’ explains Stavik.
Strong international competition
Four teams are coming from China to take part. The NHH team think the competition is going to be fierce.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen
Lignan College, Sun Yat-sen University
City University of Hong Kong
University of Toronto
Norwegian School of Economics
BI Norwegian Business School
University of Münster, Germany
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
Head of the NHH International Case Competition, Morten Nestvold Løvaas, has tailored a programme for the week for the international participants along with some of his fellow students.
‘The teams come to solve cases, but the competition doesn’t kick off until Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday, they are going to see what Bergen has to offer, and we’ve arranged workshops, talks and financial experiments,’ explains Løvaas enthusiastically.
He thinks it is important that the participants have a chance to get their bearings before embarking on the work.
‘Many have travelled for more than 24 hours and are jet-lagged. They won’t have the energy to start solving a case straight away.’
Løvaas himself has taken part in competitions in locations such as Canada, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, and is looking forward to showing the international participants what NHH has to offer. He explains that case competitions are most often run by faculties or staff at universities and university colleges and that they are unique in this respect.
‘They can be used as a way of promoting the school.’
‘One of the best things about NHH is the student environment, which is reflected by the fact that the entire event committee comprises students who organise this in their spare time. There are nine or ten of us, so it’s a bit challenging in that respect, but we've managed to prepare a whole case week, which is amazing.’
Launch day is on Wednesday 19 September. That means an end to being tourists, and the participants will receive a case launch where the case company is presented. The teams also have 24 hours to find a solution and prepare the presentations.
The judging panel includes representatives from the main sponsor Finance Innovation, the case company, and employees of NHH who possess knowledge of the industry the case concerns. After Thursday’s presentations, three finalists will be announced, who will compete in the final on Friday.
‘Everyone can come to the final. We’ve organised a break with a talk, films produced by NHH’s video group K7 minutter, and we’ve tried to make it an event in itself. In the evening, of course, there’ll be a banquet,’ explains Løvaas.
Lots of tests
‘A case tests a lot of things. It’s not just a complex issue, but there is also far too much to do within the short amount of time. Because of this, the teams have to prioritise the right things and ignore information of no relevance.’
But it doesn’t stop there. Løvaas explains that having a good, short and precise presentation is also essential to winning.
‘The teams have to be convincing and good at selling their idea to a panel with great expertise in the field the case concerns. This is obviously very challenging.’
Last year, Queens University won the competition, and BI Norwegian Business School was the runner up. It is too early to say who will win this year’s competition, but he thinks that NHH is in with a good chance.
Experience most important
Stine-Mari Stavik is the only female in the group, but she does not think that the gender dimension is relevant here.
‘It’s more about experience. I’ve worked a bit in the social care sector and when we once had a case on that topic, I noticed that I had a bit more to contribute than the other team members. But I think it could be an advantage in some cases to be a good mix. On average, men may be more interested in cars, so that’s an advantage if you get a case about Tesla, for example.’
The team explains that they have divided different industry areas between them so that they are strong on knowledge at the start of the case.
‘I’m going to look at the fisheries industry. So it’s actually also a way of keeping up to speed. We don’t get that much of that at school,’ explains Stavik.
NHH on the winners podium
When asked what the NHH students’ strongest card is, Stavik explains that their presentation abilities are unique in an international context. She feels that they have a more informal manner than, for example, the Asian countries.
‘But we have a lot to learn from the Americans,’ Ragnvaldsen adds. ‘They are very good at presentations.’
Gjønnes explains that you can come a long way with a good presentation. Twenty-four hours of work have to be presented in just 15 minutes, and there’s a lot at stake.
‘You can have a great solution, but if you don’t manage to present it well, you might lose all the same.’
If the prize does not go to NHH this year either, the work will luckily not have been in vain.
‘The labour market is often after people with practical experience, soft skills and the ability to deliver a good presentation. We put a lot of theory into practice here,’ concludes Ragnvaldsen.