Beedie students strike gold at APEX Global Case Challenge
May 13, 2016
Beedie School of Business undergraduate students continued their impressive form at global case competitions in 2016, earning the gold medal at the prestigious APEX Business-IT Global Case Challenge, one of the world’s premier management information systems case competitions.
The competition was held at the Singapore Management University from May 3 – 6 and hosted 16 teams from across the globe, including Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, and the US.
Beedie finance student Samantha Chan and management information systems students Shadnam Khan and Sukhwant Rathour formed the team S3 Consulting, coached by senior lecturer in accounting Anne Macdonald.
During the competition students were initially given 24 hours to develop a new and feasible business solution for a real world company, which they presented three times to separate judging panels. Unusually for a case competition, APEX focuses on incorporating management information systems within a broader business strategy.
This focus of this year’s competition was Grab, a Singapore based app that allows commuters to connect with taxi or citizen drivers, much like Uber. Grab operates in 30 cities across six countries in Southeast Asia.
The challenge was made more difficult due to the theme of “Conscious Capitalism: Doing Good While Doing Business,” which added a social innovation element to the case. The business solution had to therefore not only be beneficial to the business, but also good for people and the environment.
“Judges are looking for an idea that is creative, meets the needs of all the stakeholder groups, aligns with Grab’s mission – not only for profits, but for doing good – and is also a feasible recommendation that solves a real problem that can be implemented with reasonable cost and is not just a pie in the sky idea,” said Macdonald.
The Beedie students’ plan integrated Grab’s existing app with information on public transit and cost. Ideally a customer would be able to access the app, select their destination, and have a list of transportation options at their fingertips, including taxis, public transit, and walking or cycling. Furthermore, the app would give real time estimates that monitor traffic and calculate the cost of each option.
In preparing for the competition, the team dedicated themselves to weekly eight to ten hour practice sessions and two trial 24-hour sessions. The three students had to progress from being relative strangers in January to being completely in sync by May, understanding each other’s perspectives.
“One key factor is doing so many practices,” said Chan. “We learned about our limits and what ideas we bring to the table and challenged each other in a constructive way. It was never personal because we were all there to win.”
For Chan, the experience of competing in a high-pressure environment meant overcoming her fear of public speaking and trusting in herself to have the information without having a formulated response.
“In school presentations I could prepare as much as possible,” said Chan. “I would literally write out a script and memorize it, but with case competitions you have to think and respond on the spot.”
“I think the skills students learn in case competition training are fabulous,” said Macdonald. “They are working under pressure with a set of facts, coming up with a practical business solution, integrating the skills learned in individual courses across Beedie, and thinking of them all together, which is experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
Although Beedie teams have enjoyed significant success over the eight years the APEX Business-IT Global Case Challenge Competition has run – finishing in the podium places on five occasions – this year marks the first time Beedie has won the competition.
For more information on the APEX Business-IT Global Case Challenge, visit apex.smu.edu.sg/