Has any student ever thought to themselves: yes, weeks 11 and 12 of the semester sound like the perfect time to go overseas?
Well on October 2nd, Annabel Phelan, Harry Jobberns, Jesse Elias Christian, and I (May Maung) did exactly that, as we jetted off to represent QUT Business School firstly in Sri Lanka, and then in Thailand. Although it may sound rough, when you’re part of the QUT International Case Competition team, it’s absolutely worth it.
As part of a partnership between QUT, CA Sri Lanka, and the Australia Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce, we were invited to deliver workshops to high school students in Kandy on ‘how to develop a winning business plan’. We taught topics such as SWOT analysis, marketing and segmentation, how to nail pitching, and mastering Q&A. Students were then to apply these learnings when they competed in the CA Sri Lanka Business Case Competition, with the hopes of winning a spot at QUT’s annual Blueshift competition. In a reflection of a nation that’s rapidly undergoing economic development, the students had a palpable enthusiasm to learn and a keen entrepreneurial spirit, and it was a privilege to be able to contribute to that.
Sri Lanka was also a dream in itself; filled with plantations and tea nice enough to convert a die-hard coffee drinker, hectic tuk-tuk rides (fun fact: tuk-tuk Uber does exist), incredible food, hospitality, and scenery that looked straight out of a Lonely Planet Guide Book.
Activities in Thailand
Next, we headed to Thailand, where we were competing in the Thammasat Undergraduate Business Challenge, the world’s oldest running case competition.
Before the competition kicked off, we were treated to Thai massages, had excursions to famous temples, engaged in Muay Thai (painful, but fun!), and got to partake in a cooking class (mango-sticky rice!). We also visited shopping centres featuring indoor waterfalls, street-food markets, and luxury cars (but they obviously did not compare to the customer experience that is Carindale).
The competition itself was a ‘one-shot’ case: we had 28 hours to develop a strategy which we would present for 20 mins, although there was a slightly new take in that we had a mid-case Q&A session from the company. There were 20 competing teams from all corners of the world, split into 5 divisions, and we were in a slot against NUS (Singapore), Queens (Canada), Belgrade (Serbia), and Uni of South California (the US).
This year’s case company was ‘Namman Muay’ (imagine Voltaren) which is a subsidiary of the sponsor company, PE firm Lakeshore Capital. Namman Muay had a strong association to Muay Thai and we had all tried their products at the massage – we had just missed the clues!
The case tasked us with developing an international expansion strategy for Namman Muay, fixing their branding and distribution issues and meeting their ambitious (600% revenue) growth targets. Our solution involved strategic expansion to Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, taking a more centralised control in their distribution approach, and branding as a global, Thai heritage company but also tailoring at a regional level. Ultimately, we were in a tough division and although we did not make finals, the feedback was thought-provoking, the final winning team (Norway) was well-deserving, and we met some incredible people.
Overall, it was a lesson of resilience and learning. These experiences could not have been possible without our advisors Andrew Paltridge and Larry Neale, who actively invested time and effort into our development (and the rest of the Case Comp Advisory team), organisation from Thammasat University and our incredible buddy, Tee. I’m thankful that QUT Business School allows these opportunities and I was privileged enough to experience the comp with 3 team members who are incredibly talented, and supportive. I would encourage anyone reading this to try out for the QUT Case Competition Team!