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A Memorable Expedition: Wrapping Up Lazaridis International Case Conference 2023 with Our Best Faculty Advisor

Last month, a team of four undergraduate students – Fiona Lee (IBCE/5), Vincent Poon (QFIN/5), Joanna Li (IBBA/4) and Kun Yue Giam (QFIN/4) represented CUHK Business School in Lazaridis International Case Conference (LazICC) 2023, hosted by Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada.

From left to right: Fiona Lee (IBCE/5), Joanna Li (IBBA/4), Dr. John Lai (Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies, CUHK Business School), Kun Yue Giam (QFIN/4), and Vincent Poon (QFIN/5)

Overcoming the intense pressure and time constraints, the team tackled a challenging 5-hour financial technology-related case and a demanding 24-hour sustainability-related case within three days. Throughout this challenging journey, the team remained resilient and optimistic, buoyed by the unwavering support of their team advisor, Dr. John Lai (Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies). Dr. Lai’s guidance upheld the team’s positivity and cheer while nurturing an environment for the flourishing of their thoughts and ideas. The team’s exceptional efforts and outstanding performance earned them an impressive second place in their division, while Dr. John Lai was honored with the Best Faculty Advisor Award.

Here are some thoughts from our coach and team:-

Dr. John Lai (Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies):
Case competitions offer students a well-rounded learning experience that incorporates problem-solving, teamwork, practical application, networking, and communication skills. They are incredibly valuable for aspiring business professionals. My advice to students is to participate actively, rather than just being a spectator. Case competitions can be compared to playing tennis – you can have an outstanding game and still not come out as the winner. However, what truly matters is that you gave it your all and played an exceptional game! And with each experience, you gain more wisdom and expertise. As Winston Churchill once said, the definition of success is going from one hurdle to another without losing your enthusiasm! I truly believe that this award is a shared accolade with all the other faculty members who have put in just as much effort and dedication.

Dr. John Lai won one of the best faculty advisor awards among the 16 participating universities worldwide.

Fiona Lee (IBCE/5):
If I have to use 2 words to summarise my LazICC experience, they would be growth and exposure.
The intense case cracking drills, presentation practices, and self-evaluation gave me an opportunity to push myself beyond my limits. I am truly grateful for our coach, Dr. John Lai, and my teammates who provided me with much-needed honest feedback, engaged in debates on the best tactics to approach a case, and consistently strived for better performance in our future endeavors. It is truly impressive how we transformed into better presenters within just a month’s time.
Apart from cracking 2 tech and sustainability related cases, we had the time to immerse ourselves into the Canadian culture. We paid a visit to the magnificent Niagara Falls, captured the stunning fall colors, and enjoyed ourselves at the Oktoberfest celebration. The invaluable memories we created and precious individuals I met at the conference has truly made Canada’s finest season a lot finer.
Vincent Poon (QFIN/5):
Participating in an international case competition in Waterloo, Canada was an incredible experience that challenged us to grow both personally and professionally. Throughout this one-week competition, we had the privilege of meeting 15 prestigious universities from around the world. We were exposed to real-life cases that required us to be innovative and develop strategies to tackle the challenges faced by the companies involved. Additionally, we formed valuable friendships with the organizing committee and talented students from other universities. Our dear coach, John, kindly guided us throughout the entire competition and provided support whenever we needed it. Reflecting on this fantastic week, we could not be more grateful for the invaluable learning opportunities and cherished memories we gained. It is indubitably one of the best experiences we had along our university journey.
Joanna Li (IBBA/4):
I am sincerely grateful for the precious opportunities to participate in LazICC, as the unforgettable experience brought me immense enjoyment. Throughout the week, we successfully tackled two real-life financial and sustainability-related cases, igniting our creativity and honing our strategic thinking skills. I would like to express a special thank you to our wonderful coach, John, and my teammates, who provided wise advice during each presentation practice and case simulation. It has been an exciting journey, and I am grateful to have shared this fruitful week with all of you.
Another highlight of the international case competition was the series of social activities, including a visit to the breathtaking Niagara Falls, a delightful Thanksgiving dinner with local students, and a vibrant Oktoberfest celebration in Waterloo with participants from around the world. I am truly grateful for the amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting during this journey, and my week in Canada is undoubtedly one of the best memories of my life.
Kun Yue Giam (QFIN/4):
LazICC holds great significance to me as it marks the final time my team and I will compete together before one of our teammates graduates. This journey has been filled with a range of emotions – a strong desire to win alongside this team, moments of self-doubt when results weren’t favorable, proud moments as we successfully pushed our limits, and a sense of regret for not achieving victory with this beloved team. I believe that in life, the most memorable journeys are often characterized not only by joy but also by bittersweet moments that leave a lasting imprint on our memories.
I would like to dedicate a heartfelt thank you to John Lai, our faculty advisor, who deservedly won the Best Coach award for LazICC. Thank you, John, for consistently boosting our team’s confidence, providing invaluable advice to enhance our presentation skills, and ensuring that no one was left behind, even during late-night celebrations XD. I also want to express my gratitude to my teammates for joining me in this competition. I have learned so much from each of you, and your presence is what motivates me to continually improve in future competitions.
This journey has been incredibly memorable in many ways. From the breathtaking view of Niagara Falls to the enjoyable pumpkin carving activity, insightful tech talks, and our exploration of Toronto, every aspect has been amazing. However, it is the people I have met throughout this competition – the brilliantly talented minds and friendly individuals from around the world – that have added even greater meaning to this journey.

The team carved a pumpkin with the team ambassador, Mr. Noah Glas (top right), in celebration of Halloween!

In addition to the case cracking sessions, the team also had chance to explore the beauty of Canada and immerse themselves into Canadian culture. From marvelling at the Niagara Falls to joyfully celebrating the Oktoberfest, the exclusive social events connected the team with other high-caliber participants from across the globe. These unforgettable experiences lent colours to the event and created memories that would be cherished for years to come.


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