UW News

April 18, 2000

Brazilians top students from 13 nations in UW’s Global Business Challenge

Four undergraduates from Sao Paulo, Brazil, took first prize in last weekend’s Global Business Challenge, which has emerged in its second year as the world’s largest such competition.

Facing students from 12 other countries and a prestigious panel of judges, the Brazilians gave a 40-minute presentation detailing a strategy for RealNetworks Inc. to localize its products and services for various world markets.

RealNetworks, a Seattle-based Internet-streaming firm, had volunteered to use the company’s actual strategic situation as the “case” for the students to tackle with only 48 hours’ lead time.

UW Provost Lee Huntsman said the Business School competition perfectly fits the university’s growing emphasis on experiential learning and “allows students to refine the various skills so critical becoming global leaders.”

The 16 four-member teams – including four teams from U.S. schools – spent a week in Seattle, touring Boeing, Costco and Starbucks plus such sights as a Puget Sound cruise that turned into an impromptu international song- and dance-fest.

But when it came time to prepare the case, the students were all business, said Jerry Ralston, a UW Business School senior lecture. In 48 intense hours, students did their own in-depth research on Internet markets in China, Europe and elsewhere, and performed sophisticated financial analysis on RealNetworks’ options.

“What was amazing with the two or three top teams, ” said Ralston, “was that they even had made backup slides that they were able to flash in answer to judges’ questions!”

Saturday’s presentations were followed by a banquet at the Museum of Flight, where the two dozen business executives who’d served judges mingled with the young competitors and the more than 30 UW students who’d gained international experience by helping to run the weeklong event. More than a few resumes were seen being handed out.

And on Sunday the contestants returned to their homes in nearly every sector of the planet. In addition to Brazil, students had come to Seattle from Columbia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Turkey, plus the universities of California (Berkeley), Pennsyvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

The winning team represented Escola de Administracao de Empresas de Sao Paulo of Brazil. Other finalist schools were Berkeley, University Commerciale Luigi Bocconi of Italy, and the National University of Singapore (last year’s winner).

Paul Isaki, Washington state’s special trade representative, told the students before they left that the skills tested in the case study “reflect the challenges that you will face throughout the rest of your lives.”

The event was conducted by the UW’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER)and Certificate for International Studies in Business (CISB) program.
For more information, contact Victoria Helm, managing director of CIBER, at (206)685-3433 or vhelm@u.washington.edu. John Shay, globalization manager at RealNetworks can be reached at (206) 892-6371 or johns@real.com. Judges include Chris Fidler,director of government affairs at Airborne Express (206) 830-3153; Mike Kaplan of idirectmedia.com (a student contestant last year) (425) 451-4775; and Brenda McKelvie of US Bank, (206) 344-5381.