Alive and Well: The 2022 LAU Case Competition

The student-led initiative delivers valuable professional skills and exposes students to real-world experiences and network-building.

By Maryam Chamseddine

The LAU winning team (from left): Wissam Hafez, Tracy Abdulsater, Zeina Chit and Andrea Daccache.

After making a strong comeback in 2021, the LAU Case Competition (LAUCC) returned in 2022 with more opportunities, cementing the initiative as a successful, annual tradition that provides students with a platform to collaborate, compete and innovate.

The competition seeks to bridge the gap between highly motivated students and HR representatives of multinational leading companies, by having students solve real-world cases introduced by partner companies.

Not only do students get to challenge themselves, gain experience, and develop their skills, but they also expand their network and meet professionals in their fields. Competing and boosting their team spirit, students use their creativity to pitch solutions, and the winners are offered exclusive internship opportunities from participating businesses and valuable monetary prizes.

In the 2022 version of the competition, 480 applications were received from 20 universities, including LAU, the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese University, the University of Balamand, and Saint Joseph University, among others. A total of 34 teams qualified, each consisting of three or four students. A variety of leading businesses in different fields participated in the competition including Deloitte, Leo Burnett, Merck & Co. (MSD), Unilever and PepsiCo, and IBM.

The competition was divided into five well-structured and competitive stages that prepare students for their final presentations. Starting with the academy stage, students attended webinars that developed their critical thinking skills, enhanced their business acumen, and gave them tools to help them stand out in the professional world.

Following the qualifying stage, the shortlisted teams completed a mentorship program where they were guided by consultants from top consulting firms. After that, they had to solve three cases given by partnering companies, each in one day. Every company chose five finalist teams who were invited to the LAUCC Final Event on campus to pitch their solution live to the company representatives.

While organizing the event and taking part in such a time-consuming competition can be overwhelming, students reaped the rewards of their hard work, and the results were worth the challenges they faced. Six teams won internships at the partnering companies and the LAUCC Best Team Award was given to a group of LAU students: Wissam Hafez, Zeina Chit, Tracy Abdulsater, and Andrea Daccache.

When asked about their struggles as leaders of the 2022 Case Competition, student organizers Grace Berdkan and Jana Hilal spoke about securing partnerships with companies and encouraging students to participate in the competition. Keeping an open mind and staying flexible, they were able to see those challenges through.

“Our main challenge this year was to drive our intellectual and creative minds to further enhance the competition and increase its reach across different Lebanon-based universities,” said Berdkan. “We used our networking skills and exhausted our entourage to secure those six partnerships and getting them to offer career-enhancing opportunities.”

To resolve recurring obstacles, said Hilal, the duo adopted a flexible strategy through “a hybrid approach to facilitate the participation of the Lebanese students in the current circumstances while also preserving the dynamism and spirit of our in-person final event.”

From there on, the organizers visited various universities, spreading the word about the competition and amassing 480 eligible applicants. Both students highlighted how the competition was received positively by the participants and the companies.

“Our partners commended the level of professionalism and organization, and we were happy to hear that they enjoyed taking part in the competition. As for the students, and based on some of the surveys collected, the feedback was positive and reflective of the skills learned,” explained Berdkan.

Hilal hoped for continued success in the years to come. “The outcome of this year’s LAUCC is one that Grace and I are truly proud of, and we are excited to support this competition as alumni in the coming years, aiming for greater impact and even better results.”