GMC Hosts One-of-a-Kind National Language Case Competition

If presenting a business plan to company management isn't stressful enough, try doing it in another language. But teams kept their cool at the Business Language Case Competition held Nov. 13 at Brigham Young University. The nation's only competition to combine business with linguistics attracted 22 teams from 16 universities across the country.

"The competition challenges students to implement business concepts like marketing, accounting and supply chain that they have been learning in their classes — but do it all in their second language," says Sherstin Creamer, BLCC coordinator at the Kay and Yvonne Whitmore Global Management Center, which sponsored the event.

Students competed in either Portuguese, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, a category newly added this year. The competition, which was also sponsored by Michigan State University and University of Miami, saw its largest number of entries ever, with more than half of participants competing in the Spanish section.

"I learned a lot of business vocabulary that I didn't know before and learned how to work with a team under pressure," says Pitichoke Chuladamonsri, a student from University of Washington who competed in Chinese. "Our team learned how to interact with judges from China. The competition teaches us to pay respect and also build relationships in business, which is very important in China."

Judges, including both native and non-native speakers, brought five or more years of experience conducting business in the select language. Diego Flores, a Spanish-section judge from Quito, Ecuador, was particularly impressed with students' mastery of the business and linguistic aspects of the presentations and the students' ability to think on their feet.

"They have great minds, a very good understanding of business and also a skillful management of the language," Flores says. "Those who speak really well have a huge advantage in the competition. That's also true in the real world."

Nikolay Nedyalkov, from University of Miami, competed in Spanish and particularly appreciated the judges' extensive experience and expertise.

"As students, we know the theories, but often we don't know how to use them in practice," Nedyalkov says. "But judges say, ‘this is a good idea, but it might not work because of this, this and that.' It forces you to consider the things that you otherwise wouldn't have."

Students, judges and coaches were fortunate to hear from keynote speaker Warren Osborn, an entrepreneur who has used his fluency in Chinese to provide Fortune 500 companies with packaging produced in China. Such companies include Walmart, Disney, AOL, Best Buy, Visa and others. Osborn encouraged students to cultivate their skills in language and business, be passionate about goals and remain flexible when life throws a curveball in business ventures.

First-place teams received a $1,000 prize. The top three teams from each section included:

  • University of Miami – 1st Place
  • University of Utah – 2nd Place
  • Indiana University – 3rd Place

  • Brigham Young University–Idaho – 1st Place
  • Utah State University – 2nd Place
  • Brigham Young University – 3rd Place

  • Brigham Young University – 1st Place
  • University of Washington – 2nd Place
  • Brigham Young University – 3rd Place

Attending universities included American University, Bryant University, Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Idaho, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Purdue University, San Diego State University, University of Miami, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, University of Washington, Utah State University and Vanderbilt University.

Since 2002 the Whitmore Global Management Center has made strides in global business research, education and outreach. The center, which is affiliated with BYU's Marriott School of Management, provides resources, training and professional development for students, faculty and the business community.

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Carrie Akinaka