Instead our week kicked off in Beijing where, alongside the QUT Business School’s Assistant Dean (International), Andrew Paltridge, we workshopped with international high school students at the Beijing City International School (BCIS), introducing them to the world of case competitions ahead of our own upcoming competition at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
Here some of the brightest students were introduced to techniques QUT’s own case competition team use to solve even the most complex of cases. Analysis tools, financial frameworks, and presentation skills were delivered and thoroughly discussed before they were set their own ‘case’; how they would approach expanding Brisbane local business, Burger Urge, into the Chinese market considering their controversial communication strategy. The team was blown away with the students’ creativity, attention to detail, and advanced presentation skills in their solutions. The purpose of this workshopping session was to give a taste of Avenir Business Planning Competition and also QUT Business School’s annual high school business case competition, BlueShift.
However, not soon after we were headed to Hong Kong to practice what we preached and compete in HKUST’s International Case Competition (HKICC). After exploring the city and culture, we were introduced to the sponsor company, Lifestyle Holdings – a Hong Kong-based premier retail operator that owns two mid to high-end department stores, SOGO. Overall, what made the cases particularly challenging was that SOGO operated on a consignment model. Meaning that while they owned their own building (quite a feat in Hong Kong), they did not own the shops that operated in this space. Therefore, they did not hold their own inventory of products on offer or situate SOGO employees in these consignment stores – it was up to each separate company themselves. We likened this company to Westfield, providing the space for consumers to browse and explore multiple brands.
The first case required the effective introduction of sustainable practices throughout the SOGO community. As the SOGO offices have sound sustainable practices currently in place, the task was more geared towards the customer base that frequented the premises, and transferring this sustainability-minded culture in their own lives. As a three-hour case, we presented a solution surrounded the ability to earn ‘green’ reward points towards their current membership program, and the ability for consignments to defer unwanted and unused products sustainably to communities in need rather than to landfill.
With a cruise along Kowloon bay serving as a brief intermission, we were soon presented with the highly anticipated 22-hour case. With more time to develop a detailed solution, we were tasked with leveraging digital technologies to enhance customer engagement and drive growth. We presented a strategy which incorporated the use of their app into the physical store experience, while also utilising smart mirror technology.
Overall our experiences in Beijing and Hong Kong were incredible, and we learned so much from each of our experiences. Huge thank you to QUT Business School for this amazing opportunity.