Bayer’s Leo Bastos explains the challenge to students at UMSL’s annual international business case competition. (Photos by Wendy Todd)

Robert Ottinger is a sophomore at University of Missouri-St. Louis specializing in business Administration and had the chance to directly apply what he learned in his studies at the ninth edition International Business Case Competition Last week.

“I thought it was really good,” Ottinger said. “It gave me insight into the business world that I had never had before. I also really appreciated the networking he provided. I’ve learned that it’s not just about your solution, but how you get there. And being able to articulate the response is also important.

the Institute of International Affairs at UMSL College of Business Administration hosted the event, which drew seven teams from universities across the country to compete in the competition to create the best business solution for a carbon initiative from Bayer, the corporate sponsor. Competing universities were UMSL, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Florida International University, Illinois State University, Truman State University, University of Tennessee–Knoxville, and Washington University in St. Louis.

The carbon initiative was to involve the creation of low-carbon products, processes and practices to help farmers produce more food with a lower greenhouse gas footprint.

Joe Rottman, UMSL professor and director of the International Business Institute, addresses students from the seven participating universities in the annual International Business Case Competition.

Joseph RotmanChairman of the Strategic Planning and Innovation Committee and Director of the International Business Institute, and Program Manager Renita Miller, conducted the first in-person contest in two years. The goal of the competition was to have students use their research, analytical, problem-solving skills and business acumen in a collaborative setting to prepare for “real-life” work scenarios. Cash prizes were awarded to the top three teams. UMSL came third in a competition won by the University of Washington.

Leo BastosSVP Global Business Ecosystems, Crop Science Division at Bayer, presented the case, which involved solving the question “What are the best strategies and models that Bayer could explore and be the winner of sustainable agriculture?” The students then split into teams and set to work on a solution to be presented the next day.

Andrew McVicker, a business student at Truman State, was eager to get together with his fellow students to enter the competition.

“I’m very excited,” McVicker said before the competition. “I remember reading the case study in the hotel, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so passionate and focused on a project in a long time. We all work with people who have the same passion and drive. I think it was very fun. I’m very excited to see the kind of results we’re getting.

Other students appreciated the importance of the competition and its ability to improve their personal skills and make a substantial contribution to a great company. Mackenzie Cossette, a junior from Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville who competed in last year’s competition, thinks the UMSL event is one of the best competitions of its kind.

“Being able to interact with a vice president of this great organization was so exciting.” said Cosette. “It gave us more practical insight because sometimes with a lot of these case competitions we are further away from the business. And it really feels like we’re contributing to something bigger than just a weekend case study competition. I think we can actually provide information as undergraduates that could be beneficial.

The ideas provided by the teams were seen and evaluated by real executives who served as judges.

“They get immediate constructive feedback on their strategy and delivery,” Rottman said.

The competition challenged students to use what they have learned about business so far and push themselves beyond traditional thinking to produce inventive solutions.

“I think the teams really embraced the case and worked hard to come up with creative and innovative solutions to the problem,” Bastos said. “I was delighted to see all the presentations and see how thoughtful they were.”

Drew Hoffschwelle, a senior and business administration student on the UMSL team, found the competition to be a special learning experience.

“When we started the business, I had no prior knowledge of the subject, the carbon trading market,” Hoffschwelle said. “Once we were done, I learned a lot and got advice from industry professionals. The most enjoyable part was hanging out with my team members and bouncing ideas around. innovative on each other and developing those ideas. I also enjoyed presenting and answering questions from the judges. I felt honored to be the first UMSL team to place in a long time, and I would suggest anyone in business consider participating.

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