A team of four MSB seniors finished among the top four competitors in the finals of the International Business Challenge at the University of Texas last week.

Rustin Brown (MSB ’05), Azita Habibi (MSB ’05), atthew Siravo (MSB ’05) and Mitch Fox (MSB ’05) competed on Georgetown’s team.

A team from the University of Minnesota won the event and the other three finalists were not ranked.

Georgetown has competed for the past three years in the competition, which attracts students from across the world. Last year they went as far as the final round.

IBC competitors receive a realistic case study depicting problems and challenges that could be facing a real business firm. They must then fully analyze the case before presenting possible solutions to a panel of judges from some of America’s most prominent companies. The 2004 case study featured Imitrex, the parent company of fashion merchant Zara.

The competition included students coming from 18 colleges and universities around the world including Thailand, the United Kingdom and Canada. After making it through preliminary competition, Georgetown students faced competitors in the final round from the Concordia University of Montreal, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Minnesota. Although they eventually lost, the Georgetown students said they enjoyed their experience.

“My favorite part was also the most nerve-wracking part, and that was waiting to give our presentation to the judges,” Siravo said. “Basically we had our presentation torn apart and we had to defend it to them. The judges would take every statement we made and just try to rip it apart.”

Siravo said that during the preparation time each team attempted to “poke holes” in the other teams’ ideas.

“We would not let any of us make a statement we could not back up,” Siravo said. “We kept practicing and practicing and I think combined among the four of us we probably slept a total of 10 hours during the whole four days we were there.”

According to faculty advisor Willis Emmons, good preparation accounts for the team’s success over the last few years. He said at Georgetown there is a “very thorough” selection process including applications and interviews that goes into the team selection each year. At some other universities, he said, they take a “more arbitrary approach” to team selection.

“Ultimately we want to provide a good balance between majors and personality characteristics,” he said. “Before the competition, we practice on a weekly basis and have mock case studies. We do what it takes to make sure Georgetown will be successful.”

At the competition, faculty advisors are not allowed to provide assistance to team members. This rule left Emmons grasping for a way to help his students.

“Unfortunately, during the competition itself I can’t do a lot. My role was mostly prior to the competition so in Texas I was mostly moral support,” he said.

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