Spotlight on #GoodmanSpirit: Five questions with the OBCC Team

Goodman School of Business

Spotlight on #GoodmanSpirit: Five questions with the OBCC Team

In January 2014, Amanda Giesen, Deanna Horbay, Tyler Page, and Brittany Smith represented the Goodman School of Business at the 9th annual Organizational Behaviour Case Competition (OBCC) hosted by the Human Resources Student Association at the Ted Rogers School of Management. The team came in second, and impressed the judges with their case analysis and presentation.

Members of OBCC team shared their thoughts on case competitions, the importance of HR and how to calm the pre-competition jitters.

1. Can you walk us through the OBCC case competition? What was your case about? How much time did you have to prepare before you presented to the judges?

Brittany: The first day included our keynote speaker (Stefan Danis), two workshops, dinner and networking. The next day included breakfast, the case brief, case preparation, rounds 1 & 2 of presentations and a dinner and networking event with another keynote speaker (Cindy Dunn).

Tyler: The first day of the competition was all workshops and networking events. The next day we had breakfast and then were given two hours to read, analyse and prepare the case followed by an hour for lunch and then presentations. When the three finalists were announced we all had 15 minutes to prepare to present again. Our case was about ethics and cultural change management.

Brittany: The case was about a police force that had a very poor reputation in the public eye (several officers were accused of sexually assaulting women in the community). It was our job to formulate a plan that would involve implementing a new culture, managing the change, and performing damage control with the public. We had two hours to prepare.

2. The OBCC Case Competition goal is to provide attendees with a better understanding of how human resources plays a strategic role in an organization. Through this competition did you gain a stronger understanding of HR’s importance?

Brittany: Yes, I gained a stronger understanding of HR's importance. I had the opportunity to evaluate a real-life case and present that information to industry professionals. The competition helped me realize that not anyone could have analyzed this particular case, created a plausible action plan, and clearly communicated this plan to the judges. The case dealt with issues surrounding public relations, organizational design and culture, employee motivation and change management - all key HR concepts.

Amanada: This competition did help me gain a stronger understanding of HR’s importance within all organization. The guest speakers and professionals at the networking event provided their experience and advice that would help students get a better understating of the field and profession.

Tyler: Between working on the case and talking to the judges, yes. Implementing a cultural change relies heavily on an HR team. Some of the judges asked us to consider what roles and responsibilities an HR team would take on. 

3. Why do you think it is important that business students get involved in case competitions?

Brittany: I think it is important for students to get involved with case competitions because it provides them with an opportunity to improve both their written and verbal communication skills. Case competitions expose students to real-life situations and give them the hands-on experience that students don't receive in most of their lectures and/or courses. Students can also get the chance to expand their network and meet other students, faculty members and industry professionals. I personally found that this competition helped to increase my own confidence in my presentation skills. Make the most of your Goodman experience and get involved!

Tyler: It may seem cliche but the case analysis and answering judges questions provides a real world application of frameworks and critical thinking skills we learn in class.

Amanda: Competing against other universities from across Ontario and Quebec allows students to network and meet other students from different universities.  Competing also provides students the opportunity to apply the knowledge learned inside the classroom to real life applications and situations. Attending and competing in case competitions sets students apart.

4. Goodman offers a number of Case Competition training sessions. What role did training play in preparing you for your case competition?

Amanda: Training for this case competition helped prepare the team for presenting.  Through training we learned which team member was going to present which parts of our analysis which allowed us to be more effective and productive while practicing the case.  We had also learned the specific HR topics that each person would be strongest in analysing to help create an accurate, relevant, and relatable action plan to solve the main issue.

Brittany: The Case Competition training sessions helped to prepare me for the case competition by teaching me the basics of case analysis and presentation etiquette. The Professor who ran the Case Competition training session pointed out a lot of little details that contribute to a good presentation, things I might not have considered myself. The time that we had to train together as a team helped us to get to know one another's strengths and weaknesses and assign certain roles based on that information. The sessions also helped us to get comfortable with one another.

Tyler: The training I received by Prof. Robertson lent itself to developing our presentation. The importance of introductions, eye contact, body language, formats for delivering information all ended up playing a crucial role in our success.

5. Any tips for Goodman students that might be nervous about case competitions?

Brittany: Practice, practice, practice! Be confident in yourself and in your public-speaking abilities. And use the opportunity to network!

Amanda: My tip for Goodman students who are nervous about case competitions is to have fun.  Training and preparing for the competition is important but each student should enjoy themselves.  It should be a personal learning experience while representing the Goodman School of Business.  

Tyler: Go to the competition as a learning experience and try to do your personal best. We were really laid back and it helped us stay calm. Also, practice, practice practice. As a team we only had two practice sessions and would have benefitted from more.