Schulich students win high-profile international business competition

A team of three fourth-year undergraduate students from York’s Schulich School of Business defeated the world’s top business students to take first place in a prestigious international competition in Paris April 16.

Robbie Agar, Amelia Miao and Fady Abdel-Nour, students in the Bachelor of Business Administration Program (BBA) at Schulich, captured the 2008 international L’Oréal e-Strat Challenge, which bills itself as the ultimate business strategy game in search of the world’s best talent on campuses. The team’s winnings include a trip worth €10,000 to the destination of their choice.

The global competition, one of the world’s largest online business simulations, attracted more than 44,000 applicants from 110 countries, from which 48 students from 16 of the top business schools were chosen to compete in Paris.

This is the second time in the past five years that a team from Schulich has won the world championships of a L’Oréal business strategy competition. To reach the international finals, the Schulich team had to manage a virtual cosmetics firm over a two-month period and make important decisions regarding product pricing, production volume, R&D, marketing, advertising and brand positioning that would directly impact their business.

Above: Robbie Agar (left), Béatrice Dautresme, LOréal’s executive vice-president of corporate communications & external affairs, Fady Abdel-Nour and Amelia Miao

The teams with the highest Share Price Index at the end of the simulation won the right to compete in the finals. During the finals, teams had to try to sell their virtual company to a jury consisting of senior executives from L’Oréal and other leading corporations.

Lead coach for the Schulich team, Ajay Sirsi, professor of marketing at Schulich and an expert in strategic market planning and sales strategy implementation, provided key strategic insights to the students.

Also lending support as coaches and mentors were Ashwin Joshi, professor of marketing and director of the school’s MBA Program, along with Alan Middleton, professor of marketing and executive director of the Schulich Executive Education Centre. Joshi is an expert in new product development and business-to-business marketing, while Middleton is a former senior advertising executive for J. Walter Thompson and an inductee into the Canadian Marketing Hall of Fame.

"We are very proud and delighted that a Schulich team has once again this year won a major international business competition. The fact that Schulich teams have represented Canada in the finals of L’Oréal competitions in each of the last five years, and that a Schulich team has won the global championship twice during that time, is a testament to the excellence of our students and the quality of our marketing faculty," said Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth.

Here are details of the five consecutive years in which a Schulich team has competed in the international finals of a L’Oréal competition:

  • In 2004, a team of Schulich International BBA undergraduate students won the national title and then went on to win top prize in the L’Oréal Brandstorm international competition. The team of Yasna Beheshti, Pooja Subramanian and Anna Waskow won the global competition with their innovative marketing plan for a new line of nighttime skincare products. All three of the Schulich graduates were subsequently hired by L’Oréal Canada.
  • In 2005, Schulich teams once again came out on top in the national L’Oréal Brandstorm competition. Schulich placed first and second in the Canadian finals. The team of Issack Derchansky, Michael Yang and Chi Zhang took first place, with second place going to the team of Yongjian Chen, Marco Iannucci and Nikolas Koiou.
  • Also in 2005, a team of Schulich MBAs won first place in the national L’Oréal e-Strat Challenge. The MBA team of Allan Yu, Richard Kim and Rosana Yanez beat out 180 teams from across Canada to win the competition.
  • In 2006, the Schulich team of Laura Paradiso, Serena Marchesano and Milan Mladjenovic won the L’Oréal Brandstorm Canadian title with their creative proposal for a new line of Lancôme Body Care products.
  • In 2007, the Schulich team of Jennilee Dunwoody, Robert Fine and Suvit Yeung won the Canadian L’Oréal Brandstorm title with their strategic marketing and communication campaign for L’Oréal’s Redken for Men product line.

For more information on the annual competitions, visit the L’Oréal Web site.