Two teams of students taking part in two online case competitions have brought a brace of wins back to Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) early in the competition season. The ROCA International Case Competition (Rotterdam-Carleton) and AKB Business Champions Case Competition in Germany were both won by RSM teams from the RSM STAR Case Club.

Defending champions at ROCA International

The ROCA International Case Competition, 24-30 October, is one of the biggest competitions of the year for the RSM STAR Case Club and was jointly hosted by the Hogeschool Rotterdam and the University of Carleton, Ottawa, Canada for 16 participating schools from Oceania, Asia, Europe, North and South America. RSM was defending its 2020 title and the RSM team worked on three six-hour cases based on Bridgehead, an Ottawa-based coffee chain; AirNorth, a Canadian airline; and Fullscript, an online supplements dispensary.

The RSM team won divisional finals for each of the three cases. In the final round, RSM had a top three finish in every case making them the most successful team in the whole competition: they won the Bridgehead case and were awarded bronze for their AirNorth and Fullscript cases. Fullscript’s company representatives have indicated that they want to talk with the RSM team about implementing the strategy that the students proposed in their case.

Six days of competition

The competition comprised three days of working on cases, alternating with three days of presenting and in Q&A sessions. The team members often worked late into the night to account for the time differences between their Rotterdam base at the CitizenM hotel and in Polak building on campus, and the location of the Canadian judges.

The four team members were all Year 2 BSc International Business Administration students: Lars Schöningh, Moritz Reimann, Felix Fuhlendorf, and Leo Espitalier Noel – they joined the competition just a day after finishing their second year exams – and their advisor was RSM’s Marketing and Communications Director and RSM alumnus Willem Koolhaas, who coached the team members during the six weeks leading up to the competition.

Moritz Reimann said: “ROCA was an awesome experience even though it was online. Three cases over six days with the Q&As on the days in between was very challenging. However, the diverse content of each case made them exciting and interesting! We put a lot of hard work in the preparation for the competition and it is great to see that this was rewarded with one first place and two third places.”

Lars Schoningh said: “This competition was quite different from the two others I have participated in. Not only was this one much more intense with three different cases, taking up the entirety of the week, but because the case companies were released beforehand, the preparation required was much larger and also allowed us to come up with much more thought-through and fitting strategies.”

AKB Business Champions

The online AKB Business Champions Case Competition on 28 and 29 October was the first of its kind for host AKB, one of Germany's oldest and largest student associations at the University of Mannheim, and focused on banking and consulting. RSM was up against nine other business schools: Bocconi University, Italy; Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary; ESADE, Spain; ESSEC, France; IE Business School, Spain; University of Glasgow, UK; University of Maastricht, the Netherlands; University of Münster, Germany; and the University of Mannheim, Germany.

Once again, the RSM student team based themselves in the meeting rooms of the CitizenM hotel in Rotterdam to work on the four three-hour cases over two days. Their challenges came from case partners SAP SE, PwC, Deutsche Bank, and Oliver Wyman. The RSM team won the Oliver Wyman case about advising a bank on establishing an online presence in Germany, despite not being present in the German market and without online experience. The jury of representatives of the corporate partners marked the teams’ performances based on a set of predefined universal evaluation criteria.

First time entrants – and winners

The six RSM team members for this competition were all second-year BSc International Business Administration students: Hanna Forsmann, Ties van der Linden, Alexis von Roenne, Anton Rzaev, Fabian Sauer, and Natalia Szachna. Three of them were taking part in their first-ever case competitions, and they prepared with the help of current members of the RSM STAR Case Club and RSM alumni.

Team members agreed it was an amazing, challenging and rewarding experience. Alexis von Roenne said: “What I ended up liking most about this competition was the difference between what I initially expected and how the entire competition turned out to be. Expecting a more ‘traditional’ type of cases, we were at first quite surprised about the structure and expectations of the cases and judges. This forced us to look for new, innovative and differentiated ways to address and solve these cases which was a real challenge but also a lot of fun. Ultimately, I believe it gave us all a new vision with regards to problem-solving and working under pressure as a team.”

Anton Rzaev said: “AKBBC proved to be a real challenge. The team had to demonstrate an outstanding business acumen and professionalism while remaining flexible in their thinking. This setting was not only exciting but also brought us closer as a team. Given our thorough training we were delighted to win the Oliver Wyman business case.”

Hanna Forsmann said: “The most impressive experience was the interesting combination of professional and interpersonal components. The diverse and challenging cases were closely followed by valuable behind-the scenes insights into partnering companies and networking opportunities with students from the whole of Europe.”

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked 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.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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