Team of students hold awards in front musicians.

Heavener team wins back-to-back international case competitions

November marked momentous achievements for the Heavener International Case Competition (HICC) team from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. Within a few weeks, the team won two case competitions in Mexico and Canada.

Beata Chen (BSBA ’23, MSF ’24), Josh Levin (BSBA ‘23, MIB ’24), Madisen Malone (BSBA ’24) and Ashley Lau (BSBA ’25) represented Warrington at the Business and Management Case Competition (BMCC) in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hosted by the Universidad Panamericana, 16 international schools participated in the competition, representing schools from Canada, China, Hungary and other countries. The teams undertook two cases: a week-long case, mimicking real consulting, which challenged the students to develop an omnichannel strategy for one of Mexico’s top diagnostic lab companies and a shorter case that prompted students to create an international marketing strategy for the Club Deportivo Guadalajara soccer team, more commonly known as Chivas.

“The biggest challenge was understanding Mexican culture in relation to the cases we were given,” Malone said. “None of us watch soccer, but from the case it was clear that soccer is so much more than a sport in Mexico. Many Mexicans share an intimate connection with the sport – a connection to which we couldn’t relate.”

Despite their unfamiliarity with the cultural significance of the sport, the team was able to create an effective solution that sealed their win for the competition. Along with an extensive international marketing strategy, the team introduced The Chivas Experience, a communal soccer experience inspired by TopGolf that brings soccer to the fans through interactive games, dining and more.

The team also suggested using StatsBomb, a data analytics platform, to provide Chivas team members with statistics to improve their performance on the field. Putting themselves in the shoes – or cleats – of the fans was vital to their success, according to the team.

Outside of the competition, the team experienced the sights and sounds of Mexico, including participating in Dia De Los Muertos – Day of the Dead – celebrations. After returning to Florida victorious, they immediately began preparing for their next competition: the Alberta International Business Competition (AIBC) held in Jasper, Canada.

“When our team first took home the win at BMCC, it felt like everything had come full circle,” Chen said. “It represented an accumulation of all the practices we’ve done, past insights from vets combined with our own interpretation and understanding. The win fueled our momentum as we continued towards AIBC.

“We could have become complacent, but our coach kept us grounded. He reminded us that one win does not make a season. So, we focused that energy into honing our strengths and improving our weaknesses.”

Sean Limon, the team’s coach, says he feels like a proud papa regarding the team’s progress. In both competitions, and especially in Alberta, the team put in the work to earn first place and were unanimously acknowledged as the clear winners.

“To win one international competition is hard enough, and that’s always exciting and thrilling and gets me all fired up – but winning back-to-back, that’s tough,” Limon said. “Their performance at the end of the year really elevated our program. They demonstrated the high standard the HICC team has and brought our program back to the top level that it is.”

Along with Chen, Levin and Malone, Savannah James (BSBA ’24, BA ’24, BA ‘24) joined the team to represent Warrington at AIBC. In preparation, they researched the case sponsor companies and Canadian economic environment to familiarize themselves with relevant industries. The team also conducted practice cases corresponding to the length of the actual 5-hour and 30-hour cases.

First up at the competition, the 5-hour case tasked the team with inspiring skilled professionals to move to and work in nearby Edmonton, Alberta. To accomplish this, the team proposed a marketing campaign and fellowship program to entice people to make the move.

Next, the team was given 30 hours to fix unequal profit distribution in the province’s pork value chain. When analysis revealed that retailers were taking more of the profit than they should, the team suggested using blockchain technology to leverage data, ensuring equality between retailers and producers.

Their analysis didn’t just result in winning the competition: an executive of the affiliated organization, Alberta Pork, was so impressed with the team’s solution that he presented it to the board of his company.

“Competing at this level motivates me towards future success by expanding my perspectives and proving that hard work breeds results,” Chen said. “As a 21-year-old, the privilege of a nonprofit chairman pitching my solution to his executive board is rare. Yet, through hours of preparation, I earned the chance few students gain: to influence top-tier business strategy.”

Again, the team shared that putting themselves in the shoes – or this time, snow boots – of their clients was key to their success. Refusing to be distracted by their previous win, the team honed in on what was required to succeed.

“When we again held that trophy, we knew the dedication had paid off,” Chen said.

Team of students pose with award.