Students cheer upon winning competition

Heavener students win the world’s largest undergraduate case competition

University of Florida undergraduate students Luke Carter (BSBA ’23), Michael McCleskey (BSBA ’23), Maxwell Farfante (BSAc ’23, MAcc ’23) and Ashley Lau (BSBA ’25) won the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (JMUCC) in March.

JMUCC is the world’s largest undergraduate case competition, inviting teams from around the world to test their skills against other business students. Twenty-eight business schools are represented at the competition, hosted in Montreal, Canada. Pushed to the heights of their endurance and ingenuity, teams must compete in three, three-hour cases and one 24-hour case. Thanks to their hard work, careful preparation and coaching from faculty leader Sean Limon, the Heavener School of Business team won first place.

Four students holding first place trophy “The most challenging part of the competition was definitely the Round-Robin Tournament,” Carter said. “JMUCC begins with three, three-hour cases in a head-to-head Round-Robin Tournament against the three other teams in your division. Having three days straight of three-hour cases was very challenging and intense given the time constraints and the difficulty of the cases.”

Before the competition, Lau, the team’s main PowerPoint producer, practiced creating slide decks within limited timeframes to ensure the team would be equipped with quality presentations during the Tournament. This being her first case competition, she grappled with excitement and nervousness.

“Participating in this competition and being on the case team has allowed me to grow so much as a student and an individual,” Lau said. “You gain so much real-life experience by working on teams and solving problems for a variety of companies. My experience in this competition has made me more confident in myself and my abilities.”

After performing well in the Round-Robin Tournament, the team moved onto the final challenge. For the 24-hour case, revolving around Nestle Canada and their e-Commerce growth, the team recommended that the company launch a health app. Benefitting both consumers and retailers, the app would include a weekly grocery list and redirection to Canadian omnichannel retailers for easy purchase. To promote the product, the team recommended using an AI-based algorithm that would collect data from the health app to cross sell with other Nestle products.

“The businesses that sponsor cases at these competitions are from the hosting country, which means we need to have an understanding of the business culture and economic drivers of whichever country we are competing in to best recommend business strategies,” McCleskey said. “By doing this, you learn about how business is done around the world first-hand.”

Careful study before the competition helped the team act efficiently in each challenge. Farfante, who won a case competition in Australia last semester with Carter, served as the team’s financial analyst. By keeping up to date with global financial news, he was ready to contribute relevant information in the competition’s Q & A and come up with fresh ideas in each challenge.

“Competitions like these have allowed me to grow in a way that only high-level business professionals can,” Farfante said. “Very rarely are college students given the chance to present a unique idea to a panel of critical individuals. This experience has increased my presentation and critical thinking skills drastically, forced me to think in ways I never imagined and communicate complex ideas with confidence.”

Student holding trophy in between two mentors While the entire team excelled in presentation and communication, Michael McCleskey was singled out to receive the Best Speaker Award for the competition.

“I have never felt more proud of myself than when they announced my name,” McCleskey said. “Being recognized for this award is so exciting, and it shows all my hard work these past few years has paid off. Even though this was an individual award, I could not have gotten to where I needed to be to receive it without all my teammates’ advice and insight over the years.”

During the competition, many social events were also scheduled for participants, allowing students to network with each other and to experience Montreal. Back in Florida now, the team reflects on their experience with gratitude and an eagerness to excel even farther.

“I am so grateful that UF has given me the opportunity to do something like this in my undergraduate career,” Lau said. “My teammates and I are proud to represent the business school on the international stage and show how amazing our school really is. We want to continue making UF proud!”

Students pose with mentors.