The first edition of the IE University BBA Business Challenge was a massive success, welcoming 32 Business Administration students from eight universities from all over the world, including China, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Norway, Spain, and the US. The competition, which was held on IE University’s campus in Segovia this past February 2019, gave students the chance to solve two real business cases before a panel of industry experts and academics.

The competing teams had four hours for the shorter case and 24 hours for the longer case to solve the business challenge. In addition to the competition itself, the students had the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural interactions with the other teams, while discovering the fairytale town of Segovia.

Marc Smelik, Associate Dean at IE Business School, says a few words at #ieBBA

This competition allowed students to sharpen some crucial business skills. According to Marc Smelik, Associate Dean at IE Business School, “Key skills such as analytical skills, effective communication, and working in teams under pressure, are highly appreciated by employers across the world – we are proud to offer this great opportunity for development as part of IE University’s role in global education.”

We spoke with Laura Rojo, Executive Director of the Bachelor in Business Administration, to find out more about this exciting annual competition.

Tell me about the BBA Business Challenge. What’s its purpose?

“The event consists of teams of business undergraduate students competing to solve a case. It’s a real case with a real company, so when they present the solution, they’re not only presenting it to faculty members, but also to a company representative and an industry expert. So the stakes are a little bit higher, and this is a phenomenal opportunity for students, because they are analyzing a case in a competition environment—competing against students from other universities—and under a certain amount of pressure.”

In addition to the huge benefit to students, IE University organized this competition to give some visibility to its world-class undergraduate programs. An event with such international presence draws attention to all that the university has to offer—including the Bachelor in Business Administration, which was just named the most international business program in the world.

Participants of the 2019 IE BBA Business Challenge in Segovia, Spain

How does this event help the students? What are the competition’s benefits for students?

“It was really good for our own IE University students to see what top undergraduate business talent is doing around the world, exchange insights, and start to grow their global networks. They really leveraged that opportunity, and engaged with many of the other teams, so we were very happy about that.”

And it wasn’t just the students who learned and grew from this experience.

“Not only were the professors extremely impressed by the talent, but they knew the cases inside and out—they worked with the companies to write them—and they learned a lot from the students’ solutions. They saw perspectives that they might not have considered. We also had some professors participate as jury members, and they were able to network with global professionals as well. So everyone benefited, and the first edition of the business challenge really exceeded our expectations.”

What advice would you give a student interested in competing next year?

“Try to learn as much as possible through the experience. This year’s IE University team members were actually from different years and backgrounds, so they were all BBA students, but they didn’t know each other, and we threw them into a team to work together. It was a great opportunity to work with different talent. We encourage students to embrace that opportunity and to learn as much as possible. The level is very high, so be prepared to work under pressure, and have the ability to analyze cases and pitch them quickly. Try to embrace the holistic learning opportunity that is given to you!”

The winning team was from the Rotterdam School of Management in The Netherlands, and consisted of students Chloé Fleury, Mate Pocs, Luca La Porta, and Saleh Dadkhahipour, aided by faculty advisor Lance Cosaert.

The winning team, from Rotterdam School of Management

Finalists include Rachna Jog, Katherine Tang, Natalie Ngo, and Michael Wickware from Ivey Business School in Canada, led by faculty advisor Chuck Grace.

IE University hopes that this year’s edition of the #ieBBA Business Challenge is the first of many to come. Dean of IE Business School, Martin Boehm, says, “We are very happy to have started a tradition that will bring students worldwide to IE University every February for a thrilling competition.”

As our team plans for the 2nd edition of the IE Business School #ieBBA International Business Challenge (early 2020), we´d like to commemorate our inaugural edition of early 2019 with this VIDEO summary, especially honoring the phenomenal students who participated in it from: Ivey Business School at Western University BI Norwegian Business School Melbourne Business School Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University The Chinese University of Hong Kong University of Washington – Michael G. Foster School of Business Lund University School of Economics and Management, IE Business School and IE University