SMU's Team Cognitare triumphs over 16 international universities to win UTS Global Case Competition

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) hosted its first Global Case Competition from 12 – 14 November 2021, which saw 16 international universities compete against each other to solve a real-world Australian business case. Teams from over ten countries - including the Netherlands, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong participated in the virtual event, which was sponsored by Stockland, PwC, L.E.K.Consulting and Boston Consulting Group.

The format of the competition involved 16 teams being placed into four pools.  Competing teams of four had 12 hours to solve a case and pitch a solution to a judging panel of industry professionals for evaluation, critique and feedback, all while competing against other teams.  Winners from each pool progressed to the finals, where the overall winner was crowned.

Four Singapore Management University (SMU) students emerged the overall champions of the case competition.  They are Evian Chua from Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), Year 3, Megan Bon (LKCSB, Year 2, Matthew Chan (LKCSB, Year 2), and Li Mingyang (School of Economics, Year 2).  Megan Bon also won one out of two Best Speaker Awards presented.

The students are members of Cognitare, the official business case club of the Lee Kong Chian School of Business.  The club represents SMU at international business case competitions organised by leading universities around the world.  Participation at these international business case competitions is by invitation only. 

For the case competition, the team was tasked to craft a business response plan on how Stockland, the largest diversified property group in Australia, can manage its diverse portfolio to ensure financial sustainability and sustainable growth.

The pandemic had reshaped the real estate landscape, and players within the industry were forced to adapt and ensure their own viability post-pandemic. Offices for instance, have become barren as employees shift towards hybrid working arrangements and head back to their suburban hometowns. The team thought of how Stockland could repurpose their underperforming assets and integrate co-working spaces into their retail outlets. Beyond that, the team also sold the vision of the limitless possibilities Stockland could undertake by further integrating e-commerce logistics capabilities into their existing assets, and transforming their retail, residential spaces into satellite smart towns.

As a relatively junior team, averaging one international case experience per member, the four students faced several challenges. They had to deep dive into the real estate industry which they were unfamiliar with, and being international competitors, they had to understand the industry regulations within Australia. To conquer the challenges, the team spent significant time reading up, looking at innovative strategies that local real estate industry leaders have employed.

Aside from their creativity and vision, the team’s storytelling and presentation skills were much appreciated by the judges. Consultants on the panel were impressed by the team’s good balance of analysing the issues and rationale for our strategies. One of the judges, Joshua Carless, General Manager, Strategic Decision Support, QBE Limited praised the team for their excellent storytelling, sizing up the market, feasibility studies, and customer experience implementation. Jeremy Boyd, Finance Manager, Strategic Capital, Planning & Portfolio, of client Stockland, commented that the team’s case was “strongly presented and well understood of market trends.”

Team leader, Evian Chua said, “The team did not let our relative inexperience faze us. Instead, we had set our sights on winning and made it a point to work doubly hard to reach our goal. Regardless of whether we had brought home the trophy or not, I am immensely proud of the team’s growth over the past few months. The icing on the cake was how well received our strategies were. We are grateful to everyone who provided advice and encouraged us during our preparation for the competition. The team’s success would not have been possible without the dedicated trainers who are senior Cognitare members, the guidance of our faculty advisor, Prof Ma Kheng Min, and the generous support from LKCSB.”