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Four people standing and smiling
From left, Joan Martinez, Stefani Sakamoto, Lydia Jun and Kaylee Miki in Washington for a case competition

A program in the Shidler College of Business is giving University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa business students an opportunity to compete on the national and international stage, while helping them to prepare for their future careers.

The Mānoa Consulting Case Competition (MCCC) team is a group of students who have taken on the extra challenge to go through a rigorous program that prepares them to compete in business case competitions both nationally and globally. The program runs for a minimum of two months and is packed with training and workshops on how to be an effective management consultant, including how to be a critical problem solver and an effective public speaker.

The 2023 team of four students who graduated in spring 2023—Lydia Jun, Joan Martinez, Kaylee Miki and Stefani Sakamoto—competed at the Milgard Invitational Case Competition on Social Responsibility in Tacoma, Washington, and Consortium of Undergraduate International Business Educators in Boston, Massachusetts.

Miki said the experience potentially helped land her a job as an analyst with Trinity Investments—a fully integrated real estate investment, asset management and development firm. She believes that employers value the ability to put knowledge and skills into practice and have a way to demonstrate that.

“Participating in case competitions enabled us to strengthen our critical thinking, creativity and communication skills,” Miki said. “We applied various theories and models we learned through Shidler’s curriculum and internships to real-world cases. Driven by hard deadlines of either a week or 24 hours, we worked collaboratively to efficiently develop a robust analysis and compelling recommendation.”

Sakamoto, who is interning with Servco Pacific Inc., added, “Without this program, we would not have had the chance to experience and learn various skills that genuinely help us as future business professionals in the workforce. As a team and as individuals, we have grown tremendously through our participation and will be taking the skills and diligence we gained into our careers post-graduation. We appreciate the time and effort the Shidler community has taken to support us, and we hope that Shidler can support more students like us in the future.”

7 years of competitions

Under the direction of Shidler marketing instructor Constancio Paranal, the program was launched in 2016 and has since provided more than 50 students the opportunity to represent the college in competitions across the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region. Since its inception, several teams have won or placed in the competitions.

According to Paranal, competitions allow the opportunity to deliver impact, particularly since most cases involve actual companies that are seeking student input, ideas and solutions. Case competitions also provide networking opportunities for students to learn from their peers from other schools and universities and expand their social network.

“The program is like a boot camp that trains and strengthens a student’s cognitive abilities and business acumen,” Paranal said. “Case competitions have shown to enhance the value of a business degree by providing innovative and hands-on application for students. Not only do case competitions challenge their thinking, but they also provide the opportunity to travel, an immersion experience where students are able to learn about different cultures and business realities.”

Promoting diversity and representation

As an all-female team, the 2023 group was dedicated to sharing their collective strength and purpose. It was an opportunity for the students to hone their business acumen and showcase their skills, and in the process, be seen and heard as future business leaders, and to play a role in shaping what future global business leaders should look like.

“Engaging in these case competitions has given us a new-found confidence to take on opportunities and become business leaders who can powerfully inspire change in our communities,” Jun said.

“Having an all-woman team was never the goal, it just so happened that female Shidler students took more interest and initiative in joining the program,” Paranal said. “Once the team was formed, it was important to acknowledge that fact and build on each other’s strengths. In most instances, it wasn’t about being an all-woman team, but at times it was. They had to know who they represent, embody that and bring that voice and power to the forefront.”

Read more on Shidler’s website.

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