OSB team reaches semi-finals and earns top coach award at the MBA International Case Competition in Canada

​​​​​​The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB) MBA student team was almost unstoppable yet again at the 37th John Molson MBA International Case Competition (ICC) in Canada. The team reached the semi-finals for the second consecutive year plus, the team's coach Hagop Panossian won the top coaching award.

Thirty-six teams from 19 countries took the stage in front of a global audience to participate in a round-robin tournament held from January 1-6, 2018. The OSB team, comprised of Hiba Chehade, Jessica Abou Jaoude, Raghid Abdul Khalek, Karmah Chehaitly, Rif El Zein, and Raghid Abdul Khalek (alternate), was the divisional leader after five consecutive wins and went undefeated until a loss in the semi-finals.

“We are proud of yet another stellar performance from our graduate students in international competition," said Steve Harvey, dean of OSB. “This is a unique learning experience for these students, and one that reconfirms that the highest caliber of students graduate from our business programs every year."

Canada Competition 2018.1.1.jpgOrganized by Concordia University in Montreal, the competition draws teams from the world's top business schools to evaluate real-world business cases. With no access to the Internet, the teams had to develop solutions and present their cases to a panel of judges on this year's theme of business ownership. The cases encompassed a wide variety of subjects including entrepreneurship, corporate governance, inter-generational transition, acquisitions, divestitures, and many more.

Business case competitions provide students the opportunity to take their education beyond the classroom. “This competition taught me how to tackle current challenges facing businesses worldwide and exposed me to different perspectives from teams with diverse backgrounds," explained team member Chehade.

Team member Abou Jaoude is thankful for this learning opportunity to combine both theory and practice, adding that “the competition was a fulfilling experience that included challenges, team bonding, and multicultural connections."

For El Zein, it was: “One amazing experience, a whirlwind of emotions, multiple lessons learned, international connections and new friendships that I will vividly remember and cherish down the road when I look back at my time at AUB." 

Karmah pointed out that the knowledge and skill set gained from the training sessions and competition were remarkable. “To say the least, interacting with others from around the world was insightful and made me realize and experience how each person can add a different perspective to the same table," she said.

HPaward.jpgThe team was coached by Hagop Panossian and Dr. Mai Daher along with contributions from Dr. Assem Saffiedine, Dr. Ahmad Ismail, Tarek Kettaneh and MBA students Narine Bolghourjian and Matt Trotter. Panossian, who has been coaching OSB teams for the past two years, received the Dr. J. Pierre Brunet Coach Award. This prestigious award recognizes the important c­ontribution that coaches make to both prepare teams for months prior to the competition and guide students during the weeklong competition.

Panossian has been teaching management and strategy courses at OSB for the past seventeen years and has taken six teams to competitions around the world. “My love for solving business cases comes from a combination of my academic career and experience as a co-owner and manager of my family business," explains Panossian. His teams last year won the 2017 University of Munster International Case Competition in Germany; second place at the HSBC/HKU Asia Pacific Business Case Competition in Hong Kong, and made the semifinals at the 36th John Molson MBA International Case Competition in Canada. 

“At OSB, the infrastructure for competing in business case competitions was built from scratch. We learned fast and today our students are considered top competitors among the world's best business schools," acknowledged Panossian.