GMC Hosts National Language Case Comp

PROVO, Utah – Nov 28, 2017 – Tucked along the Happy Valley mountainside, Brigham Young University students often refer to their academic home as the “Provo bubble.” But opportunities to mingle with other students from beyond the bubble often arise, including the recent Business Language Case Competition at the BYU Marriott School of Business.

Hosted by the school’s Global Management Center (GMC), the competition is open to universities throughout the country and unique in that students are graded not only on the content of their cases and the power of their presentations but on the finesse of their foreign language skills. This year, BlenderBottle, a Utah-based company that markets cups and bottles with portable whisks for mixing shakes, sponsored the event.

“It was an honor to work with BYU on this year’s competition,” says Michael Sorensen, BlenderBottle’s marketing director. “The whole event was professional, organized, and well executed. I was impressed with the caliber of the students and their presentations.”

Ten teams competed in either Chinese, Spanish, or—for the first time—Arabic. Students rolled into Provo from Indiana University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Washington, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and BYU, which placed first in both Arabic and Chinese and second in Spanish. After receiving BlenderBottle’s case in the team’s respective language, students had one week to work on their solutions and presentations.

The problem? How to prevent competitors in foreign countries that lack strict IPs from producing lower-priced counterfeits and cutting into BlenderBottle’s market share.

“This case was interesting because it’s a current case—it’s happening right now,” says Kate-Elizabeth Hardcastle, a BYU Marriott experience design and management senior who helped plan this year’s event.

The day before the competition, students toured BlenderBottle’s new state-of-the-art facility where they conversed with a company employee involved in marketing and international partnerships. The teams then enjoyed lunch at Sundance, instruction on résumé enhancement, and time to mingle with their competitors.

From talking politics in the Middle East to comparing notes about “unique” aspects of university culture (i.e., BYU’s coffee-free campus and West Point’s twelve-point GPA), students bonded over their different perspectives and experiences.

“I think that the most fun was at the competition, interacting with the other schools and sharing stories and ideas,” says Matt Johnson, a pre-management junior who competed on BYU’s Spanish team. “That was probably our biggest takeaway—the friend group that we now have across a couple of the universities rather than just having another case under our belts.”

But having another case under one’s belt is no small feat.

“I’ve never been in any sort of competition like this before, and it was definitely a challenge,” says Arabic victor Clara Cummings, a senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic. “It’s taught me how to work hard under stressful circumstances on a short timeline. It was so rewarding to see all our hard work come to life during the presentation.”

Winning teams walked away with $2,000, while second-place teams won $1,000, and third-place participants received $500 to split between teammates.

“The competition gave me great applicable practice and, most importantly, confidence in myself to pursue an international career where I can use my language skills,” says Seth Anderson, an economics senior on BYU’s Chinese team.

However, Anderson and his peers aren’t the only ones who reaped benefits from the event.

“Several recommendations aligned with current strategies of our company, and several provided new insights and creative strategy that we had not considered,” says Sorensen. “I fully expect we’ll execute on recommendations from this competition—in part or in whole—in the years ahead, and hope to be able to participate again in the future.”

Whether bonding with fellow undergrads or marketing BlenderBottles internationally, this year’s competition helped all involved to “burst” from the Provo bubble in purely positive ways.

Ten teams from five different universities competed in this year's annual Business Language Case Competition.
BYU students Seth Anderson, Laurie Haupt, and Jacob Burdick placed first out of the Chinese teams.
BYU students Andrew Napier, Alex Mcdonald, and Clara Cummings secured first place in Arabic.
indiana spanish
Students from Indiana University won in the Spanish category.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Afton Izu