Lazaridis International Case Conference hosts successful second year with 12 participant schools

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Photo by Mathusan Srimurugan

This past week, Laurier hosted its second annual Lazaridis International Case Conference from Oct. 13 to 19.

Teams of students from top schools across the globe gathered to compete in case competitions and experience what growing Canadian conference had to offer.  There were twelve teams in total who competed in the international case competition, including teams from Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United States of America in addition to a few Canadian teams.

“Last year we had 9 schools and this year we had 12. So we grew by three schools which doesn’t sound like a lot but it changes the dynamic a little bit in terms of the number of cases that are being watched and the rigour of the competition,” said Sofy Carayannopoulos, associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and LAZICC faculty advisor.

“I’m very happy to say that the schools that were at it this year elevated and reinforced the quality of the competition.” 

“There’s a lot of coordination and small details that need to be perfectly timed and executed for it to be a seamless experience for the international competitors who attend.” 

The conference consisted of a variety of both academic and social events, including a trip to Niagara Falls, a networking event, tech talk and social, case competitions, gala dinner and Oktoberfest outing to conclude the week. 

Sponsors of this year’s conference included big names like TD Canada Trust, Foresters Financial, MARSH, Pearson and Communitech. 

The case competition component of the conference included both a five hour and 24-hour case competition for the students to compete in, both of which were technologically focused.

“I think the reason we were motivated to put a tech emphasis on our cases is first and foremost because technology is the main driver of change in the business environment today,” said Carayannopoulos.

“So given how important that is, it can create opportunities, it can create stress, it can create new businesses and new ways of doing business and given how much change is created by one factor I think it’s important to really understand how that factor is impacting organizations.”

The students in particular are saying this is going to be the highlight of my undergraduate experience.

— Sofy Carayannopoulos, associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and LAZICC faculty advisor

This year’s winning teams included Simon Fraser University in third place, Mcgill University in second place and the Technical University of Munich as the highest-ranking team. The conference was organized primarily by Laurier students with the help of Carayannopoulos as a faculty advisor. 

“Who execute it all is the students. We have a student organization who reaches out to sponsors, it was student writers who wrote the cases, students that executed the entire event,” she said. There’s a lot of coordination and small details that need to be perfectly timed and executed for it to be a seamless experience for the international competitors who attend.”

Students involved in the planning process of the conference gain valuable skills that prepare them for a role in both organizational and management positions in the business world.

The students, international delegates and faculty in attendance all reviewed the event with flying colours. 

“Right now we are getting emails back from students and delegates that came to the competition and the faculty that supervised them, and even the sponsors, saying this was an amazing experience,” Carayannopoulos said. 

“The students in particular saying this is going to be the highlight of my undergraduate experience, the faculty saying my students learned so much and have taken so much away from this experience and the sponsors being so impressed with the quality of what they saw at the competition.”

A new component was introduced to this year in order to provide local students with the opportunity to experience a high-intensity case competition.

LAZICC Local allowed both Laurier and University of Waterloo students to compete amongst themselves in the same 24-hour case competition that the international teams tackled.

“18 Laurier teams had a parallel experience, did the 24-hour case, the same case that the international students were resolving in that same time period. And we ran a competition with them where they presented to a panel of external judges, with some faculty on those panels as well, and were able to compete against each other and experience the rigours of what an international team would experience if they went abroad,” Carayannopoulos said.

“So that was something new, created a lot more work but I think it was a worthwhile experience and opportunity for our students… I’m very happy to say, and these aren’t just my words, the sponsors said the same thing that saw both tracks, that certainly our top teams on the local side could have easily gone head to head with the international students.”

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