Undergraduate Education

SMU’s Team Cognitare wins Champions Trophy Case Competition

Published on 8 March 2024
Photo (L-R): Megan Bon; Dr Ma Kheng Min; Harold Lu; Ooi Chu Han; and Megan Teo
Photo (L-R): Megan Bon; Dr Ma Kheng Min; Harold Lu; Ooi Chu Han; and Megan Teo

Team Cognitare – SMU’s business case club – has started the year with a strong showing, clinching the title of Global Champions at the prestigious Champions Trophy Case Competition (CTCC).

The highly esteemed case competition organised by the University of Auckland in New Zealand exclusively invites winners of other high-profile international case competitions.

This year marked the 15th edition of the competition, which was held from 28 January to 3 February 2024, and saw Team Cognitare pitted against 11 other teams hailing from universities across Asia, Oceania, Europe and North America.

The team – undergraduates Harold Lu, Megan Teo, Ooi Chu Han and Megan Bon, all from the Bachelor of Business Management programme – continued Cognitare’s winning streak. Previous wins include the International Case Competition at Maastricht in the Netherlands in May 2023 and the Thammasat Undergraduate Business Challenge in Thailand in October 2023.

On their achievement, Professor Bert De Reyck, Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB), expressed his pride, saying, “This victory is a clear reflection of how well-prepared our students are to tackle real-world business challenges, acting as consultants to propose ideas and strategies that are not only insightful but also implementable in practice.”

“It reinforces the value of the education and experiences we offer at LKCSB, preparing our students to make meaningful contributions wherever they go.”

Champions Trophy Case Competition Finals 2024

Perseverance and ingenuity scores against competition

The competition saw contestants spending several days creating innovative business solutions for four different companies: a small- and medium-sized enterprise, a non-profit organisation, a public listed company and a healthcare company.

Team Cognitare’s perseverance and ingenuity shone in the preliminary rounds, resulting in a solid win within their division and securing their spot in the final round.

Teams in the final round were challenged to devise a solution to improve the financial resilience of Ryman Healthcare, a leading New Zealand retirement village operator, in view of market challenges. The team was pitted against notable schools such as USC Marshall, the National University of Singapore, the University of Belgrade and the University of Hong Kong.

Cognitare’s creative solutions allowed Ryman Healthcare to unlock cash flows early and improve its balance sheet health through a revamped pre-payment business model and capturing whitespace in retirement services. This enabled significant topline uplift, enhanced the healthcare operator’s ability to develop on an existing land bank and diversification of revenue streams.

These impactful yet highly feasible strategies envisioned Ryman’s potential to transform into a more resilient business and thoroughly impressed the judging panel, which was made up of experienced consultants, investment bankers and industry experts.

Besides their insightful recommendations, judges and participating schools also commended the team on their thoughtful analysis, strong display of teamwork and exemplary presentation skills.

Crafting this winning strategy required an intense four-day schedule that included back-to-back five-hour case-solving sessions, pushing their critical thinking skills to the limit.

“It was an uphill battle to become the Champion of Champions as the level of competition was extremely high. The win solidifies SMU as one of the strongest case teams in the circuit and I am proud of our team for the hard work we put in and unwavering dedication in representing our School and University,” said team leader, Harold Lu.

“We would like to express our immense gratitude for the generous support of LKCSB, our faculty advisor, Dr Ma Kheng Min, senior members and alumni of Cognitare for their guidance and mentorship during our training sessions. We deeply appreciate the support from everyone who contributed to our competition preparation.”

See also: SMU's Team Cognitare becomes Champion of Champions | SMU Newsroom