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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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February 19, 2004


Business savvy


Carol King and John Whalen
Carol King and John Whelan prepare kits for the ninth annual Network of International Business Schools (NIBS) case competition to be held from Feb.22-27. Memorial's team will host seven other business schools from around the world as they compete for the NIBS championship.

By Aimee Sheppard
As a seasoned case team competitor, John Whelan has enough stories about some of the nation’s top business students to write a best-seller. He’s got tales of debauchery, upsets, and heart-pounding competition and all this insight will come in handy as Memorial gets set to host the ninth annual Network of International Business Schools (NIBS) case competition.

From Feb. 22-27, eight teams from around the world, including Memorial, will be here competing for the coveted NIBS championship. Last year Memorial won the championship and the privilege to host the competition. Although the commerce student won’t be competing this year, Mr. Whalen’s experience at other case competitions will help him in his role as student co-ordinator.

“I gave up my mid-term break for this,” he said. “But I love the competition. I am fanatically competitive and our reputation is on the line. I want Memorial to host a great tournament and we have more than 30 student volunteers who feel the same.

“Competing at case competitions is incredible,” he added. “You get to see the different perspectives from other business schools and see how they approach these competitions. At one of the competitions, there was a team that had to be in bed at 10 p.m. and had to eat bananas as part of their diet. Some teams have really strict regimens.”

During NIBS, competitions start at 9 a.m. Each team will compete daily in the first three days. “When you’re presenting a case, you’re applying what you learned in a way that you normally wouldn’t be able to. A co-op employer isn’t likely to ask you to prepare a budget for a national corporation but in a case competition there’s no telling what you might have to do.

“And when it’s over and you think you can relax, a panel of three to five judges will grill you. It can be very intimidating to know you’ve got some of the country’s top businesspeople listening to your every word. At the World University Debating Championship, I had a judge debate me using all of the Socratic principles in his argument. How often does that happen?”

But it’s not all work. Even though Memorial boasts the best record among Canadian case team competitors, it is also known as a school that can socialize. “One of the most important things you learn at these competitions is how to network. No one can really teach you how to work a cocktail party or why drinking 17 pints is not appropriate. The social aspect allows you to interact with other competitors, faculty members and judges. At the closing dinner of one competition, I had a drink with the Bank of Montreal’s vice-president of real estate and we still chat today.”

The schedule includes a lot of time to socialize and this year’s NIBS competitors will have a chance to experience a hockey game, go curling, take in some local music and more. “For the second year in a row, NIBS is in Canada. Our goal is to offer the Canadian experience with a Newfoundland twist, ” said Carol King, manager of academic programs at the Faculty of Business Administration and this year’s NIBS co-ordinator. “We have teams coming from as far away as New Zealand, where it’s the height of summer.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing people dance a jig and become honorary Newfoundlanders,” she said. “It’s about the cultural experience as much as it is the competition. We will be putting Memorial’s best foot forward in both regards and John and the other student volunteers will help us do that.”

For more information about the competition visit


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Next issue: March 4, 2004

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