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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV students win business case competition, first student team to win in the U.S. in 11 years

Courtesy | GVNext

Four Grand Valley State University students won the Schlesinger Global Family Enterprise Case Competition, becoming the first student group in the United States to win in 11 years. 

Held at the University of Vermont, students from around the world came together to compete. GVSU students Teddy Rounds, Abby Hoffman, Alina Ladewig and Justin Quinn spent a week at the competition solving family business cases. The hypothetical cases presented in the competition tasked students to solve and navigate a variety of business related aspects.

Ana Gonzalez, director of the Family Owned Business Institute and associate professor of management at the Seidman College of Business, worked to recruit and coach the students the last six months leading up to the competition. 

“The goal in the competition is for students to analyze a case that is given to them and make recommendations,” Gonzalez said. “There is a protagonist in the case that needs to make a decision or has a dilemma, and the students are supposed to go through the analysis so that they come up with recommendations on ‘this is the way you should go.’” 

Essentially, the students took on the roles of consultants. The judges then decided which team came up with the best course of action for each case. 

During the first round of the competition, the teams were given a case a week in advance. They were given access to any resources to prepare for their case– besides contact with coaches. The teams then made a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation, followed by a question and answer from the panel of judges. By the second, third and fourth rounds, teams were only given four hours to prepare a case without any access to resources, including internet access. 

The GVSU team of students began practicing about six months ago by meeting throughout the summer. Over the fall semester, the four students met weekly to practice mock cases and work on presenting, as if they were at the competition.

Gonzalez said the students ability to navigate the cases demonstrated intelligence beyond their age.

“Every time I saw them, I just felt ‘oh my gosh.’ If I were 20 years old, or 21, or even 23, I wouldn’t have been able to do what these kids are doing. Honestly, I feel pride. I feel proud,” Gonzalez said.

Team members Ladewig and Quinn said each person had different skills they brought to the table, like experiences in family business, finance, entrepreneurship and presentation skills. They also noted that the team dynamic and bonding were the most memorable aspects of competition. 

“We had fun without the win. The win was just the icing on the cake,” Quinn said.

By the end second round, the team placed third. However, as the rounds went on, they then placed second in the third round, taking them to the finale. When announcing the winners, the tension was on. The GVSU logo appeared on screen. The announcement was followed by all four students cheering, hugging and Quinn’s chair falling over in a frenzy of excitement.  

“What was interesting was that they did it better and better every single day, so their learning process was great. Really their last presentation was extraordinary,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez said the team had many traits that lead them to victory. 

“They connected with the cases, they connected with the judges and all that put together made them winners,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez is beginning to recruit for next year’s competition and is urging students to reach out if they are interested. For now, she is proud of all four students’ effort and hard work. 

“I saw this exponential growth, not only in their scores, but in the way they analyzed their cases, the creativity of their recommendations and the way they presented,” Gonzalez said. “They owned every single word that they spoke, they were engaging and confident and so strong. I’ve never been prouder of a team.” 

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