The Champions’ Trophy: a labour of love for Business School staff

The Champions' Trophy is a crowning jewel in international case competitions. This year it returned to the Sir Owen G. Glenn building.

Participants in the 2023 Champions’ Trophy competition.
Participants in the 2023 Champions’ Trophy competition.

Over the first week of February, the 2023 Champions’ Trophy case competition took place at the Business School.

The Champions’ Trophy is the University of Auckland's annual case competition. Teams from universities around the globe compete in a case competition, solving business cases by identifying key issues and developing strategies. The students then present their ideas to a panel of industry experts.

This competition is a labour of love for the Business School’s Student Development and Engagement team, especially for Brendon Potter, Student Development and Engagement Manager, and Anastasia Timoshkina, Student Development Adviser, and this year's Champions Trophy Event Director. 

Created by Brendon in 2008, this year marks the 14th iteration of the case competition.
“When the competition first started in 2008, there were only 12 undergraduate case competitions internationally. Although this meant case competitions happened on a relatively small scale, the impact of the competition process on the students was obvious,” says Brendon.

“Based on that impact, the University decided to establish the Champions’ Trophy and make it a qualified entry event. The launch of Champions’ Trophy coincided with the opening of the Sir Owen G. Glenn Building and was supported by the Vice Chancellor’s Strategic development fund. competitions happened on a relatively small scale, the impact of the competition process on the students was obvious.

Brendon Potter

“Universities see case competitions as a differentiator to their student offering. The consistent response of the delivery team for the Champions’ Trophy, which is made up of students, is that Champions’ is the best week in their entire time at university.”

Luke Davis, member of the University of Auckland team at the competition, agrees. "Beyond being faced with a range of business scenarios, the opportunity to foster friendships and showcase the very best of Aotearoa New Zealand is something I'll never forget."

Logan Mellow, co-president of the University's Case Club and co-lead of the competition, adds to this, saying, “I wanted to be a part of organising the event which has provided me with so much growth and development over the past few years. Organising the competition was an unforgettable experience and one of the most rewarding weeks of my university life.”

The Champions’ Trophy is recognised as the premier case competition on the international circuit. It is the only competition in the world with qualified entry. Teams must win at a specific event before they are invited to compete.

This year there were 11 teams competing, including our own University of Auckland team.
2023 was the first time the event was able to take place since the start of the pandemic. However, this year, the team also had an added challenge in the event of the Auckland floods. A majority of teams had arrived in Auckland by the time the floods hit, and the team found themselves working hard to ensure the event could still go ahead.

With support from the Business School’s Facilities and Operations Teams, the event was able to go ahead as planned, albeit with a bit more time spent indoors.

Brendon Potter with competition judges
Brendon Potter with competition judges

“The Champions’ Trophy would not be possible without critical contributions from many supporters, including those at the Business School.” Brendon adds.

The University of Auckland Case Club dedicated their time voluntarily to organising this event alongside the Student Development and Engagement Team. The Club made up the Organising Committee for the competition, and Logan Mellow and Darlene Hu, co-presidents of the Club, were this year's co-leads.

“This year we also had 43 members from the business community act as judges, as well as 25 student volunteers who devoted significant time to deliver the event. There was also four companies – ANZ, New Zealand Sailing Trust, NicholaTK and XERO – who contributed the actual cases.”

“The competitors are also well supported by recruiters because they use many skills needed in the workplace, like problem solving, teamwork, meeting tight deadlines, and advanced presentations skills,” he adds.

After four days of competing, with three preliminary rounds, one wild card round, and one final, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (Netherlands) placed first. The Smith School of Business, Queen's University (Canada), placed second, and the University of Auckland team placed third.

“On a personal note, it was so satisfying to deliver Champions’ Trophy after a 2-year COVID induced hiatus,” he says.

Brendon and the team are already looking forward to the next iteration of the competition in 2024.