PRRES Case Competition - UniSA Student Feedback
A group of property students including four students from UniSA, Tessa Norman, Amelia Mitchell, Neil Zwaans and David Philpott, were involved in the inaugural Case Competition at the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society (PRRES) 2009 conference.† This competition, initiated by the Auckland University Business School who run an annual case competition, was open to undergraduate property students from the Pacific Rim region and included teams from Australia, New Zealand, USA and Hong Kong universities.
Here is their invaluable feedback!
The case competition was an invaluable experience in measuring where we are at as students and as an institution. Itís interesting to see how other students approach complex problem solving and what focus their respective institutions place on parts of the problem. In that I think that we had a strong analytical base with strong problem solving skills, we provided an in-depth analysis but were weak in creative ideas and marketing!† I guess itís important to know where we are at Ė after all we will be competing against these people in the broader employment market globally.
The competition was very challenging, but we had a great time participating in it. And as a bonus we got to attend the conference and spent some time sightseeing in Sydney.† We arrived on Sunday afternoon and the competition was held on the Monday. On Monday night we had dinner together with all the students and on Tuesday we attended the conference. There were some terrific speakers providing good insights into the current economic situation and the difficulties faced by the property sector. We stayed in a pretty nice hotel and the UniSA even picked up the tab for most meals.† The conference included a four-hour harbour dinner-cruise, which was terrific fun. We spent Wednesday sightseeing before flying home that evening.
In terms of the competition, we had four hours to prepare a ten minute presentation on a Harvard Business School property case study. Our particular case-study dealt with the re-development of an office building into apartments in inner Mexico City. It drew on broad knowledge from the program in terms of finance, market fit, product development criteria and especially risk assessment. Different teams appeared to focus on different aspects and this showed that the different universities have varying priorities in their programs. The eventual winning team from California focused more on marketing whereas we focused more on questioning the financial viability and market fit of the project and on the identification of the major risks.
Overall though, it was a great learning experience and great fun.
When it came to the day of the competition we were all quite nervous but excited. The case we received was longer than expected, but we worked through it together very well and in good time. We were happy with how we were able to pull together in a time of high stress and produce an answer and presentation which we believed was at a quality produced by the best of our abilities. After the finalists were announced all the teams were able to watch the final presentations and speak to each other about the case study. This was very interesting as it was clear there were vast differences in the answers the various teams had produced, making us realise that there is not one straightforward answer to a case study.
The case study competition was really great as it taught us to work together very well, and to get a result very quickly. My reading, analytical, and communication skills are also more advanced now. It was also a superb experience to meet a number of the academics which authored multiple papers on our course reading lists. Additionally the industry day provided a great deal of information to us on the current state of the economy and various markets, as well as other topical property issues. Trekking Sydney doing tourist-like activities was also fantastic as I had never been to Sydney.
The recommendation I would make for future teams competing in case study competitions would be to practice lengthy case studies many times before the competition, including the presentations to develop strong presentation skills and ensure good preparation. Additionally, I would recommend to students not to hesitate about doing a case study competition Ė all the effort is really worth it and it really is an amazing experience!
This experience was fantastic in taking the next step from academia to the real world. I think that learning via case studies has great merit. It allows you to take your theory and put it into practice. It would make a great addition to the curriculum if you were able to fit it in. It also forced you to become more disciplined in time management and keeping focused on the big picture.† I think that this tends to get lost in uni where the focus can shift to completion of the next assignment and not looking at what you are learning as a whole and how it can be applied to the real world.
A case competition is not something that I (and I believe the rest of the team) would have entered externally; however as none of us were very "campus orientated" I think that incorporating the case studies into the university curriculum would provide the most benefit.† However speaking to the lecturers at the conference, they felt that a "club" would be successful. As the skills required to undertake a case study competition are not specifically property related it could be a whole school club if required although the mix of disciplines could tax peopleís negotiation skills. Though this may not be a bad thing!
I learnt a lot, not only from the case competition, but also from attending the PRRES conference.
UniSA PRRES Case Competition Team