SMU's Team Cognitare becomes Champion of Champions

Business school undergraduates flew the SMU flag high at the Champions Trophy Case Competition held in New Zealand

Team Cognitare, SMU’s business case club, has clinched the title of Global Champions at the prestigious Champions Trophy Case Competition (CTCC), a highly esteemed case competition organised by the University of Auckland in New Zealand that exclusively invites winners of other high-profile international case competitions.

Competing against 11 other teams hailing from universities across Asia, Oceania, Europe and North America, the 15th edition of the competition was held from 28 January to 3 February 2024.  

Team Cognitare, comprising undergraduates Harold Lu (Year 3, BBM), Megan Teo (Year 3, BBM), Ooi Chu Han (Year 4, BBM) and Megan Bon (Year 4, BBM) continued their winning streak to bring home the global championship following recent wins in the international case competition circuit: the International Case Competition at Maastricht in the Netherlands in May 2023 and the Thammasat Undergraduate Business Challenge in Thailand in October 2023.

During the competition, contestants spent several days creating innovative business solutions for four different companies: a small- and medium-sized enterprise, a non-profit organisation, a public listed company and a healthcare company. The team's perseverance and ingenuity shone in the preliminary rounds, resulting in a solid win within their division, and advanced into the final round, where they were challenged to devise a solution to improve the financial resilience of Ryman Healthcare, a leading New Zealand retirement village operator, in view of market challenges.

Despite being confronted with formidable competitors during the final round, the team powered on and ultimately secured the title of Global Champions, beating out notable schools such as USC Marshall, the National University of Singapore, the University of Belgrade and the University of Hong Kong.

They had proposed creative solutions that allowed Ryman Healthcare to unlock cash flows early and improve its balance sheet health through a revamped pre-payment business model and capturing whitespace in retirement services. This enabled significant topline uplift, enhanced ability to develop on existing land bank and diversification of revenue streams for the company.

The judging panel made up of experienced consultants, investment bankers and industry experts were thoroughly impressed by Team Cognitare's ability to craft impactful yet highly feasible strategies that envisioned Ryman’s potential to transform into a more resilient business. In addition to their insightful recommendations, the team was commended by judges and participating schools for their thoughtful analysis, strong display of teamwork and exemplary presentation skills.

Their journey to victory was far from easy, in fact, their intense four-day schedule consisted of back-to-back five-hour case solving sessions that pushed their critical thinking skills to the limit. 

Professor Bert De Reyck, Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), was proud of the team’s achievements. He said, “This victory is a clear reflection of how well-prepared our students are to tackle real-world business challenges, acting as consultants to propose ideas and strategies that are not only insightful but also implementable in practice. It reinforces the value of the education and experiences we offer at LKCSB, preparing our students to make meaningful contributions wherever they go.”

Commenting on the win, team leader, Harold Lu, said, “It was an uphill battle to become the Champion of Champions as the level of competition was extremely high. The win solidifies SMU as one of the strongest case teams in the circuit and I am proud of our team for the hard work we put in and unwavering dedication in representing our School and University.”

“We would like to express our immense gratitude for the generous support of LKCSB, our faculty advisor, Dr Ma Kheng Min, senior members and alumni of Cognitare for their guidance and mentorship during our training sessions. We deeply appreciate the support from everyone who contributed to our competition preparation,” he added.

Heartiest congratulations to Team Cognitare, for flying the SMU flag high!

Click here to watch the Team’s performance in the final round.