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Reflections on the 39th John Molson International Case Competition

January 15, 2020
By Chris Wise, Recruiting and Marketing Assistant – Grad Programs

39th JMSB International Case Competition team Clockwise from top left: Matthew Beck (assistant coach), Akshay Joshi, Catherine Pepe, Paul Bugnon, Tim Field (coach), Rachel Simmons and Genevieve Roch

I am relatively new to the John Molson School of Business and have not pursued an MBA myself. However, in my day-to-day, I have the opportunity to talk to current students and alumni about their MBA experience.  When I ask them about their favourite part of the John Molson MBA, they will invariably refer of their involvement in case competitions as the most rewarding and fun part of their MBA journeys.


Last week, I went to the John Molson MBA International Case Competition (ICC) for the first time – and I got to see what the fuss is all about! Held during the first week of January each year, the ICC is the longest running and largest case competition in the world. Just seeing the list of 36 competing teams from business schools who have come to Montreal’s Hotel Bonaventure this year from across the globe is enough to appreciate the importance of the gathering.

And the atmosphere is buzzing with energy and nerves! Teams hurrying to their assigned rooms, socializing in the corridors, reviewing their presentation strategies and practicing their breathing exercises.

Seeing the teams go head-to-head in both prepared and live case-cracking is impressive. Case competitions are designed to really strengthen the students’ critical thinking skills, as well as their presenting skills both individually and as part of a group. The time constraints for presenting cases also force participants to remain concise, set a good pace and to stick to the most important points of the argument.

After each team’s presentation, a question period with the judges ensures that the students have not just memorized the key points for their own part of the presentation.  Every team member must have a strong grasp of the given case, the team’s proposed solutions and the market conditions beyond what is discussed in the presentation in order to be able to properly answer the judges’ questions and critiques about the presentation. I was largely impressed by the students’ poise and ability to convincingly present their arguments. It is so very interesting to see the business leaders of tomorrow develop their skills right before your eyes!

So congratulations to the winning teams! The University of Cape Town took first prize, followed by the University of Paderborn in second and Nanyang Business School in third. Our beloved JMSB team, comprised of Genevieve Roch, Akshay Joshi, Rachel Simmons, Paul Bugnon, Catherine Pepe, coach Tim Field and assistant coaches Matthew Beck and Cedrin Law fought valiantly, winning three of their five cases. Nevertheless, I think that you don’t have to make the podium to be part of a truly rewarding experience.

The good thing about our school hosting the ICC is that it gives John Molson MBA students the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of organizing the case competition and to work in conjunction with competing team members to advance JMSB’s reputation on the world stage.

First of all, thanks are in order to John Molson’s MBA International Case Competition Organizers for delivering such a grand event.  As always, they worked hard throughout the last year to make the event worthwhile for all. The event also relied on volunteers who generously donated their time to making the event run smoothly. Last, but not least, thanks to all the participating schools for travelling from near and far to help make the event as important and as challenging as it has become.

Good luck to all students from this and other business schools who will be participating in case competitions throughout the coming year. Mark your calendars that the 9th annual Van Berkom JMSB Small Cap Case Competition is coming up on March 20th and 21st.

The John Molson MBA program is so intensive that it can speed by and be finished before you know it.  Making sure that you seize the opportunity to get involved in case competitions like the ICC should be a priority during your program. I have now seen first-hand why case-based learning is such a key component to business student success. See you at the next case comp!


For more information on the full range of John Molson graduate programs, visit our website. Then connect with a recruiter to arrange a one-to-one meeting or participate in one of our many online information sessions.

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