Beaches, Baguettes, and Bringing Home the Win


The team taking in the sights at Balboa park.

This fall, four Foster undergraduates (Cooper Wechkin, Gayatri Jaiswal, Renee Ren, and Skye Scofield) and their advisor (Nedda Soleymani) had a chance to soak up some sun at the 2018 SDSU International Case Competition. The team, which had been training together throughout August and September, ultimately brought back the first place trophy, in addition to a little sunshine.

The competition itself was an intense 24-hour case on how Paris Baguette (PB), an international bakery chain, should expand throughout the European market. The team recommended that PB expand into Belgium from their current base in Paris and then leverage their learnings in the Belgian market to develop a strong artisan retail and CPG presence across the Europe.

While the competition was fierce, with 11 other business schools in attendance, the detailed and original solution developed by the Foster School team propelled them to the top of the podium. Outside of the competition itself, the students had a chance to network with business students from around the country, take in the San Diego scenery, and apply their learnings from the classroom in a real world setting. We would like to give a huge thanks to SDSU for hosting an incredibly well-run competition, with fierce competition and engaged judges. Read on to hear more from the student team:

The team at the awards dinner, receiving their plaques and the trophy.

Renee: “The SDSU International Business Case Competition provided experiences that no textbook nor class could ever give me. Upon our arrival in San Diego, we were greeted by the warm sunshine and beautiful palm trees of California. We then arrived at our hotel, where we spent 24 hours becoming the experts of the European Baked Goods Industry. Thanks to the multiple practice cases that we did over the last two months, we dove right in and worked diligently to construct a comprehensive presentation that later helped us win the competition. I was able to apply the knowledge that I have learned in the classroom to an actual business challenge, as well as develop my analytical and communication skills. […]It was definitely one of the most rewarding weekends that I have ever had in college, and I am excited for more case competitions to come.”

Skye: “While I’ve competed in a variety of case competitions before, I could tell that this one was different from the moment I sat down at the first dinner. The energy in the room was electric – you could tell that all the students were there for the same reason, to win. As we dove into the case, I was incredibly grateful for the support of my teammates, the UW faculty, and our coach (Hersh Narayan). Thanks to the efforts of GBC staff , the Global Case Competition Club, and of course Hersh, we felt like the best prepared team there. Ultimately, I think it was this preparation that drove us to the win. It wasn’t all work though, and I was incredibly excited at the opportunity to take in San Diego’s best attractions, from Hotel Coronado to Balboa Park to fish tacos from Oscar’s. While my sunburn has already faded, my memory of this competition will stay with me for a long, long time.”

Cooper Wechkin, delivering the engaging opening to the presentation.

Cooper: “Being a member of this team was truly one of the greatest opportunities I have been given since starting at Foster. With only a few case competitions under my belt, Skye, Renee, and Gaya taught me more than I ever could have imagined possible over a very short period of time. Not only did they contribute greatly to my personal growth and development from a professional standpoint; they also taught me the value of a strong team dynamic, and I can honestly say that this was the most fun and productive team I have ever been a part of.”

Gaya: “I’ve always said that Case Competitions are what have made my education at Foster a holistic one. Looking at what we achieved at the SDSU International Case Competition, I can say with absolute certainty that participating in case competitions will make any business student a better version of themselves.

From the moment we got our case at the welcome dinner till our final presentation, we worked as an ideal team. Everyone in this team brought something to the table and our training over the summer, under the guidance of our coach, Hersh Narayan, prepared us to tackle the competition better than I ever imagined we could. We stuck to completing each task on time in those 24 hours, balanced strategizing and researching effectively, took the right number of breaks and delegated work well. We were able to trust each other to give our best to this competition and had grown comfortable to each other’s working styles. Additionally, we were easily the most bonded team at the competition and I like to think that was evident in our presentations.

Gayatri Jaiswal, emphatically delivering the team’s marketing plan.

We certainly had hiccups along the way but recovered from them quickly. The deck, research and quality of work that we presented is something I’m proud of and looking back I’m not sure we realized just how much we got done in just 24 hours. Consistently practicing case competitions elevates the standard of work you expect from yourself each time and everyone in the Global Case Competition Club at Foster knows that.”

The Whole Team: “We are so grateful for our amazing coach, Hersh Nayaran, and this learning opportunity that the Global Business Center provided us,  and we are so glad we were able to bring this win home for them.”


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