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Elite Teams Compete for 2011 Marshall Cup

University of Auckland Team Wins the 11th Annual Marshall International Case Competition, the Largest in the World

For a second time a team from Down Under triumphed at the USC Marshall International Case Competition (MICC).

The 2011 MICC was held Feb. 19 at the University of Southern California, attracting 29 elite teams of undergraduate business students from around the world in the largest event of its kind. Students from the University of Auckland won the Marshall Cup, taking it from last year’s victors, their nearby neighbors at the University of Melbourne. In third place was Manchester University, with Penn State placing second. USC Marshall's team made it to the final round of judging in a highly competitive group. Corporate sponsors for the event included Hewlett-Packard, Altria and Warner Brothers.

"This is a premier annual experience, bringing together the brightest young minds from the best business schools in the world," said James G. Ellis, USC Marshall dean. "This event provides opportunity for students to showcase their understanding of the global business environment and their ability to execute on deadline. They compete against their peers while forging new relationships across the globe."

The 120 students participating in the invitation-only competition were given 24 hours to analyze a real- world business situation and then make formal recommendations to industry and academic leaders. The competition brought out students’ competitive edge and few slept between the time when the case was handed out and when the presentations concluded the following day.

As in previous years, the case study was designed by Michael Coombs, associate professor of clinical management and organization at USC Marshall, who has earned a reputation for devising scenarios that teams are unable to anticipate. The surprise element elevates the quality of the competition because teams must rely on a broad knowledge base and creative problem solving skills to formulate original compelling arguments.

The 2011 case asked students to analyze future human resource opportunities at Hewlett-Packard. Prior cases include choosing a new health and wellness strategy for Nestlé. For a second time a team from Down Under triumphed at the USC Marshall International Case Competition (MICC).

The 2011 MICC was held Feb. 19 at the University of Southern California, attracting 29 elite teams of undergraduate business students from around the world in the largest event of its kind. Students from the University of Auckland won the Marshall Cup, taking it from last year’s victors, their nearby neighbors at the University of Melbourne. In third place was Manchester University, with Penn State placing second. USC Marshall’s team made it to the final round of judging in a highly competitive group. Corporate sponsors for the event included Hewlett-Packard, Altria and Warner Brothers.

"This is a premier annual experience, bringing together the brightest young minds from the best business schools in the world," said James G. Ellis, USC Marshall dean. "This event provides opportunity for students to showcase their understanding of the global business environment and their ability to execute on deadline. They compete against their peers while forging new relationships across the globe."

The 120 students participating in the invitation-only competition were given 24 hours to analyze a real- world business situation and then make formal recommendations to industry and academic leaders. The competition brought out students’ competitive edge and few slept between the time when the case was handed out and when the presentations concluded the following day.

As in previous years, the case study was designed by Michael Coombs, associate professor of clinical management and organization at USC Marshall, who has earned a reputation for devising scenarios that teams are unable to anticipate. The surprise element elevates the quality of the competition because teams must rely on a broad knowledge base and creative problem solving skills to formulate original compelling arguments.

The 2011 case asked students to analyze future human resource opportunities at Hewlett-Packard. Prior cases include choosing a new health and wellness strategy for Nestlé, dissecting the Walt Disney Company’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar Inc. and developing a new business strategy for The Los Angeles Times.

Brendan Potter, faculty adviser to the University of Auckland team (which also won in 2008), said he and his team were both “surprised and humbled” by their victory. “We have a great deal of respect for the strength of the teams we compete against. It is very difficult to make it through to the final round and even more difficult to do well. Living way down the bottom of the South Pacific can be a little lonely and MICC provides a platform to engage with our international peers,” he said.

While the actual competition was just a quick 24 hours, MICC was a weeklong event for competing students, including outings to Santa Monica, The Grove, CBS Studios and dinners at Universal City Walk. The week culminated in an awards dinner at Town & Gown on the USC campus. The activities were designed to encourage students to network and experience different cultures. Anna Pitera, a senior at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said that she felt that with so many countries represented, she and her team experienced what it was like to be in the minority. "It was a great experience to be in that kind of global environment.", dissecting the Walt Disney Company’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar Inc. and developing a new business strategy for The Los Angeles Times.

Brendan Potter, faculty adviser to the University of Auckland team (which also won in 2008), said he and his team were both "surprised and humbled" by their victory. "We have a great deal of respect for the strength of the teams we compete against. It is very difficult to make it through to the final round and even more difficult to do well. Living way down the bottom of the South Pacific can be a little lonely and MICC provides a platform to engage with our international peers," he said.

While the actual competition was just a quick 24 hours, MICC was a weeklong event for competing students, including outings to Santa Monica, The Grove, CBS Studios and dinners at Universal City Walk. The week culminated in an awards dinner at Town & Gown on the USC campus. The activities were designed to encourage students to network and experience different cultures. Anna Pitera, a senior at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said that she felt that with so many countries represented, she and her team experienced what it was like to be in the minority. "It was a great experience to be in that kind of global environment."


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,500-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 90 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.