The cold weather stood in stark contrast to last week’s heated Family Enterprise Case Competition in Burlington, Vermont. After three days of case analyses and presentations, the lucky few teams that made it into the finals started the last day of the competition by receiving a complex case document on yet another family business conundrum. With only three hours at their disposal to put together an analysis and presentation to impress the distinguished panel of finalist judges, students faced great pressure and team spirit was put to the test.
Amongst the undergraduate finalists were the teams from Asper School of Business (University of Manitoba), Dalhousie University, the University of Vermont Business School, the John Molson School of Business (Concordia University), and Stetson University’s Family Enterprise Center. The teams that made it into the graduates final round were the teams from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) and Jönköping International Business School.
Amongst the jury for the undergraduate panel were noted family business academic Dr. Kelin Gersick, Management Fellow at the Yale School of Management; real estate tycoon and sponsor of the FECC Stephen Ifshin, Chairman of DLC Management Corp.; John Hall, COO of Rachael Ray, Watch Entertainment, Inc.; and Tharawat magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Ramia M. El Agamy. With five undergraduate teams contesting for the FECC cup, the judges had their work cut out for them and were forced to take a few hours of deliberation until the tight competition could come to a satisfactory conclusion.
On the jury for the graduate jury were FECC sponsors Mark DiMichaelis, CEO and President of Olivia's Organics and State Garden Inc. & DeMichaelis Properties LLC; James R. Keller, President, Green Mountain Business Consultants; as well as Barbara Spector, Editor-in-Chief of the Family Business Magazine.
To add to the great pressure that the competitors must have felt on this last day, the final round was opened to all the other teams and the whole day the ballroom at the Hilton, Burlington boasted of near to 100 people in the audience. After the presentations were over, the judges withdrew into an isolated room for deliberation and assessment.
The award ceremony that ended the FECC was a cheerful affair and clearly demonstrated the friendships the students had forged during these four, sometimes trying days. Sponsors, ambassadors, and organising committee were honoured and various awards were given out to best presenters, most creative and most fun-to-work-with teams building up the anticipation to the handing over of the FECC cups. Under soaring cheers and applause the cups were finally awarded to the John Molson School of Business in the undergraduate category and to Jönköping International Business School in the graduate competition.
It is safe to say that participants, judges and organisers had great fun during the 2014 FECC and that this unique competition will only grow in years to come symbolising a significant and much needed contribution to the family business field.