Global bachelor teams compete in RSM STAR Case Competition

A record number of 12 business school teams from eight countries competed in the RSM STAR Case Competition 2017, which took place at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) from 2 – 9 April. The teams of bachelor students competed to solve two real-world case challenges for multinational sports company Nike Europe and Dutch restaurant chain Brownies&downieS – with the teams from Queen's University, Canada, and Singapore Management University, both taking out first place.

Over the course of the week, the 12 competing teams participated in two case challenges: a 10-hour case challenge for Brownies&downieS, a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities and a vessel to create change and acceptance, and a 24-hour case challenge for Nike Europe. Each case included confidential information on a problem that needed to be solved, or an opportunity the company wanted to explore. Students also took part in workshops, presentations by company reps, excursions in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and networking and social events.


“I have developed professional capabilities that will last a lifetime,” says Johnnie Allan, a student from Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. “I learned how to speed-research a subject you know nothing about and still present like an expert. I learned how to take advantage of adrenaline and function on little sleep. I learned how to communicate under pressure and work as a team. Yet the socialising with students from across the globe was the highlight.”

RSM's reputation for sustainability appealed to Jazelle Tan, a student from Singapore Management University. “I’m an active participant in the international case competition circuit and the RSM STAR Case Competition was a natural next-step given that the business problems are known for their sustainability slant,” she said. Tan added the most important takeaway for her was realising that sustainability efforts can have impact and be cost-efficient. “Through the Nike case, we were able to apply these topics that have been widely discussed in the business world.”

Cracking the cases

Students had 10 hours to prepare their solution to the case for Brownies&downieS, before making their presentations at RSM on 4 April. The four finalists were Queen’s, Haskayne, Corvinus and HEC Montréal.

Preparation for the 24-hour case for Nike included a day spent in-house at Nike Europe, where students took part in a company tour, presentations and a dinner with company reps. Students then worked for 24 hours together in their hotel rooms to break the case. At the 12-hour mark they had the opportunity to garner information from Nike representatives with a 15 minute Q&A. The four finalists of the 24-hour case were: Ivey, SMU, RSM and Haskayne.

“This event is a great opportunity to get advice from recognised universities and exposure to a pool of highly talented students,” said Hanjo Riemersma, director supply chain strategy at Nike. “The quality standard of the presentations as well as the content generated in just 24 hours was amazing. The motivation, focus and determination of the teams was very inspiring especially considering the limited exposure of the teams to the business world.”

Aislin Roth, a student from team Queen’s University in Canada, said: “I loved visiting Nike’s European HQ. We had no idea who the sponsor of the 24-hour case was going to be and I’ll never forget arriving on the bus, seeing the coffee shop with the slogan “Just Brew It”, and only then realising we were going to be presenting our ideas to one of the world’s most iconic brands.”

Winning teams

The winning teams of both cases were announced at an award ceremony on 7 April. Queen's University took out the winning position for the Brownies&downieS case challenge, with Haskayne Business School and Corvinus Business School in second and third place. The winning team received the Brownies&downieS pie book.

The winner of the Nike Europe case challenge was Singapore Management University, followed by Ivey Business School and Haskayne Business School in second and third place. The winning team received an edition of Shoe Dog, a book by Nike’s founder Phil Knight.

Jazelle Tan, a student from Singapore Management University, said: “One of the things I learned is that team work is key to success. Not only did our team’s camaraderie contribute to our win, but RSM organising committee’s team spirit was one of the biggest factors for the smooth execution of the week-long event. The Netherlands has taught us to work hard, and play even harder!”

Real-life case competition

The RSM STAR Case Competition is a unique opportunity for teams from top business schools worldwide to compete against each other to solve to real-life business cases. “In addition to being an event focused on learning and case solving, the RSM STAR Case Competition also brings people together from all over the world to connect and get to know each other,” said Céline Ariëns, chairman of the case competition.

Cases are developed by participating companies together with the Case Development Centre. Along with developing problem-solving, time-management, team-work and presentation skills, students get to know like-minded, ambitious students from all over the world. Each university is represented by a team of four undergraduate students accompanied by a faculty advisor from their university.

Twelve teams, eight countries

Teams from the following 12 universities participated in this year's RSM STAR Case Competition: Corvinus Business School from Budapest, Hungary; The Chinese University of Hong Kong from Hong Kong, China; HEC Montréal from Montréal, Canada; Hong Kong Polytechnic University from Hong Kong, China; Ivey Business School, Western University from London, Canada; Queen’s University from Kingston, Canada; Singapore Management University from Singapore; Haskayne Business School from Calgary, Canada; Universitas Gadjah Mada from Yogyakarta, Indonesia; University of St. Gallen from St. Gallen, Switzerland; University of Technology from Sydney, Australia; and Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University from the Netherlands.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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