Sugar babies. Poutine. Financial modeling. These things seem unrelated, yet they all came together seamlessly during my time in London. Nope, I’m not talking about the city of tea and stressed politicians – I’m talking London, Ontario, CANADA. When I found out that my first international case competition was taking place in the middle of Canada during the winter, I was less than pumped. The other team from my university was going to a Budapest case competition at the same time, and I was already jealous of the Széchenyi thermal bath pictures they were going to upload to Instagram. What would I upload? A picture of maple syrup? Me in three winter coats?
If you’ve never heard of a case competition, let me give you the deets. Undergraduate business schools all around the world gather students together to solve problems and present strategies in the form of a beautiful PowerPoint. Since my motto is “scam the most free trips out of life,” I immediately joined the case team at Georgetown and prepped to compete in these fast-paced competitions.
From the get-go, my team was disadvantaged. This particular competition, the Scotiabank International Case Competition, required four-person teams and at least one advisor. Our advisor chose to go to Budapest (no surprise), and the fourth member of our team dropped out (sad). Nevertheless, we persisted. Flying over London, all I could see were farms. At the airport, a big “WELCOME TO LONDON” sign taunted us. Basically, I was being a huge hater. I had already judged Canada before I had even seen anything or met anyone. When our Uber pulled up to the hotel where the competition was being held, I gasped. It was a castle, right in the middle of downtown London. Apparently, it had housed the ~royal Canadian forces~ during the world wars, but now it was operating as a boujee hotel.
During the opening ceremonies, we met our country ambassador, BJ. Let me tell you, this girl was the coolest, most authentic person I have ever met. Not to mention that she also makes BANK as a sugar baby. For all of you SUAGers that need to fund your travels, I may have found you a very lucrative side gig! After breaking bread with our formidable competitors and discussing how long the Australian team’s flight was (answer: 18 hours, two connections), it was time to find out what the case was all about.
Our Top-Notch Competitors List of Universities at SICC
Münster School of Business and Economics – Germany
Inter American University of Puerto Rico – San Juan
John Molson School of Business – Montreal
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México – Mexico City
Marshall School of Business – Southern California
Georgetown University – Washington D.C.
Instituto de Empresa – Madrid
Universidad San Francisco de Quito – Ecuador
Aarhus University – Denmark
University of Hong Kong – China
Rotterdam School of Management – Netherlands
University of Technology Sydney – Australia
Sixteen teams were shuttled in a school bus until we stopped in front of a Mercedes Benz dealership. The case topic was about the automotive financing industry, and how banks can continue their partnerships with dealers in the face of ridesharing, autonomous vehicles, and a diverging market. Blah, blah, blah. Instead of listening to that, I was busy looking for the Mercedes Maybach S600, the $200,000 car that Nicki Minaj drives. Priorities, right?
After feverish case preparation during the day, the event organizers had planned crazy social events that highlighted the night life around London. We went to bars with live music, an amazing bowling alley restaurant, and most importantly, a poutinerie. Everyone was so friendly – college towns are the some of the best places to meet new people and explore the local culture, and they definitely know how to party. On the last night, BJ walked into the club we were at, threw her purse and jacket at someone and immediately went into a split and started split-twerking. Don’t even ask me how that’s physically possible.
I almost forgot about the actual competition itself! Despite being short-handed, my team made it to the finalist round. At the closing ceremonies, the judges started reading off fourth and third place. Not us. Finally, they read off second place. Not us. We looked at each other in awe while BJ started screaming like a proud mama. The judges handed us the first place plaque and we hugged each other, proud and exhausted from 20+ hours of prep over two days.
Now, I have two life mottos, the new one being “don’t judge a place before you get there.” Every little town has its own flavor, and locals can bring out the best in any situation. Working hard gives you the opportunity to play hard as well, so never stop striving to be the best at what you do while also enjoying your life. And always ask for the Instas, Snapchats, and Facebooks of whoever you meet abroad – you never know when you might get the chance to see them again. Au revoir, London.
What competitions have you competed in while abroad? Let us know in the comments below!