Sangria & Sustainability: Foster travels to Madrid, Spain for IE BBA Business Challenge 2019

This month, the Foster School of Business sent four undergraduate students to compete at IE Business School’s first undergraduate international business challenge in Madrid and Segovia, Spain. Students were faced with a four-hour and subsequent 24-hour case focused around the topic of “responsible innovation” in a business context. Read more about the student’s experiences from the four day competition below:

 “Me Encanta España! I could not be more grateful to have been sent to Madrid to represent Foster at IE BBA BC. One would think taking a week off classes would impact our learning negatively but I’m certain every student that participated in this competition learned so much more than they generally would have in the classroom. Whether it was picking up a few words of Catalan in Barcelona or learning about the incredible history behind Gaudi architecture or hearing about the complex social divisions that existed in breathtaking Segovia, my teammates were given the opportunity to open our minds and be reminded of a whole other world that exists outside of UW. Although I have done a couple dozen case competitions in my time at Foster, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the cases were some of the most relevant and interesting cases I’ve ever had the privilege to work on. Through tackling the ethical and security issues of Audi A8 head on and struggling to decide between our many ideas to ensure the continuity of a revolutionary sustainable fashion brand, we were able to witness our business education help us solve real global problems. It was refreshing to learn how companies in Europe cared about responsible business practices over profit and gave us perspective on how American business are run and could be run better. We had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Spain and are so thankful for the great job IE did in hosting us. I am so excited for Foster to send a team again and I feel fortunate to have been a part of solidifying the relationship we have with IE Business School.

  • Gayatri Jaiswal, Senior studying Information Systems and Marketing

The team is all smiles after completing their 24 hr case: A creative and holistic strategy for Ecoalf’s future.

“Representing the University of Washington and Foster at the IE Business Challenge was an incredible experience. Learning about different cultures and ways people do is business is always interesting but having the opportunity to interact and work with these cultures first hand is amazing. What impressed me the most was the rich history of the country. The competition took place in IE Segovia, a university housed within the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real. This building was constructed 600 years before the University of Washington! Ongoing excavation sites and historical marks had become meeting rooms. Sometimes the wonder of the space made it even harder to study!
Beyond the historical significance of the area was the cultural impact from the competition. Students from eight universities around the world were provided the opportunity to compete, network, and become friends with each other over the course of four days. The challenge consisted of a four and a 24-hour case. Although we were competing against one another, there was never animosity between the teams, only curiosity and goodwill. Through the power of social media, I have the ability to stay in touch with my fellow competitors and hope to one day meet again. I’m grateful to GC3 and the Global Business Center for providing this experience. If I were to recommend any experience from my four years at the University of Washington, it would be this!”

  • Nicholas Harmon, Senior studying Finance

Nicholas Harmon humorously presenting the University of Washington at the IE BBABC opening night.

“My involvement with the inaugural IE Business School Case Competition was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of. I have always enjoyed the process of case competitions throughout my time at Foster but was overwhelmed with how incredible being a part of an international competition team was. Don’t get me wrong- this experience was a lot of work and not a lot of sleep during the actual competition dates, but in the end, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Meeting the teams from around the world and learning about the differing business schools, ideas, and ways of life was eye opening to me.

Our final 24-hour case was centered around trying to help a company who held strong corporate responsibility morals to be profitable. We (as well as all other teams) spent 24 hours developing a strategy that would allow a company to continue their responsible business practices while generating a profit. While there was only one winning team in the end, we were all left with this timeless, impactful and valuable lesson – We are the future of the business world and we are soon entering a workforce where a lot of people are quick to sacrifice what is right for what makes a profit. It is typically the quick or easy route and sometimes is seen as “the only way to make money.” However, after 24 hours of extensive research and strategizing we, as eight international teams, were able to prove that with creative innovation and with the power we have as young professionals who want to do good in this world, it is possible for us to create a path where profit coexists with responsible business.”

  • Chloe Lium, Junior studying Marketing and Finance

The colorful spread of competitors at IE Business School’s first ever International Case Competition.

Having the opportunity to represent the University of Washington Foster School of Business in the IE Business challenge in Madrid this past month, was not only rewarding but life changing. Immersing yourself through internships is one way that we are used to experiencing business, however, immersing yourself in another culture advances your learning to a greater extent. The trip to Spain presented opportunity. From trying new assortments of Tapas for the first time, rooting on Messi from the stands at a football game, visualizing a world without the structural beauty of Gaudi Spanish architecture, or having dinner at the same table as teams from eight different countries, there was never a moment that did not inspire my learning. Our competition was held in Segovia, a small town just two hours from Madrid that held as much history as it did architectural wonder. We stood under towers of Roman Aqueducts and awed at royal castles that lay in the valley, just hours before starting our first case.

Competing on issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, our hosts provided us with exciting problems from Audi self-driving cars, to clothing companies looking to clean the Ocean’s plastics. Not only did we create our own solution, but we got to see the solutions provided by other countries, a truly global environment coming together to solve common issues that affect us all. We had made friends all over the world whom we will stay in touch with, have created our own stories with, and won’t soon forget. It was a trip of a lifetime, and there was no better way for me to experience global friendships, international business, or one of my final case competitions, than to do it in Spain. Viva Espana!”

  • Austin Sharma, Senior studying Finance and Information Systems

The team visiting the awe-inspiring Royal Palace of Madrid to celebrate the end of the competition.

The Global Business Center is proud to sponsor these students and promote international collaboration across the globe. To find out more about case competitions and opportunities to compete in them, follow the Global Business Center on Facebook and check out the Global Competitions page on the GBC website.