Early Case Competitions

Case competitions originated in the United States and have generally been around for over two decades. In the early years, however, most events were national. Very few were open to international schools.

Among cross-discipline events, one of the oldest running is arguably the Marshall International Case Competition (MICC), hosted by the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles CA. When it was established in 1997, McGill University won the first Marshall Cup. Another competition was TUBC, the Thammasat Undergraduate Business Challenge launched in the same year. In 1999, the University of Washington held the first Global Business Case Competition (GBCC).

As of 2000, McGill University already offered “Case Analysis and Presentation“, known by students simply as the “case class”. The course required students to integrate knowledge and practice for preparing and presenting case studies. Some of the best students would be selected to represent McGill at a number of case competitions. Among the events McGill competed in, some were area-specific, dealing with pure marketing, finance or HR issues. Others were cross-functional. Regardless, these competitions had grown in popularity among students at the Faculty of Management, leading McGill to create one of its own.

Foundation

In 2000, amidst the popularity of the case class, Professor Richard Donovan, Wallace Crowston (Dean of the Faculty of Management), Gerald Ross (Associate Dean) and Alistair Duff (Associate Professor) decided that McGill would finally host a competition in Montreal. The format would borrow from the USC model, but would distinguish itself from other North American events by focusing on innovation and globalization, cross-functional disciplines, and also by not using the traditional system of dividing schools into pools.

A team of student organizers was formed in the winter of 2000. The first edition was unveiled in March 2001. Chaired by student Elizabeth Wooster, the first McGill International Management Competition (MIMC), as it was called, welcomed 12 schools: 4 each from Canada, USA and abroad. MIMC 2001 lasted 4 days, from March 21st to 24th. The bitter wind and biting snow failed to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm. The University of Southern California was the first winner and took home the gold plate.

First Years of MMICC

In 2002, Concordia University won first place. The following year, it was Simon Fraser University, another Canadian school. By 2003, new case competitions had started to appear across the globe. Copenhagen Business School held its first CBS Case Competition in Denmark in 2002. The following year, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology launched the Citi International Case Competition (CICC) in 2003.

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Under the stewardship of Richard Donovan, each generation of organizers made incremental improvements to both the social and competitive components of the week, while always maintaining an intimate and inclusive atmosphere.

In 2004, MIMC became the McGill Management International Case Competition (MMICC), where HKUST won first place, thereby bringing the champions plate outside North America for the first time. The University of Pennsylvania finished second, and the University of Washington third. An additional fifth day of activities was added to the schedule, and teams were accommodated at the Best Western Ville-Marie next door from McGill.

In 2005, the 5th edition, chaired by Lea Saade, featured snow tubing and, for some participants, a first try at ice skating as part of the activities line-up. Out of the two, snow tubing has now become a signature event for MMICC. Other social activities such as karaoke and a scavenger hunt in downtown Montreal have since carved a permanent spot in the schedule. The University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School) emerged champion. Copenhagen Business School came in second. Two schools shared 3rd place: USC and McGill. It was the only tie to ever happen at MMICC.

MMICC On The Rise (and behind the scenes)

In 2006, several changes were introduced. The judging panel became, for the first time, corporate-only. Prior to this, the participants had been judged by a mix of executives and professors at McGill. The executive committee would be led by two co-chairs, Neha Bhasin and Sonali Shah. The competition was moved to the Marriott Residence Inn. That year, the opening ceremonies took place 737 feet high, on top of the Place Ville-Marie tower. One night, guests were treated to a very memorable and frightening haunted dinner. The closing event was hosted at Club Saint-James, where Thammasat University won first place. The team from Auckland finished second, and Peking University third. MMICC welcomed schools from New Zealand, mainland China and Russia for the first time.

In 2007, the opening ceremonies moved to Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History, located at the city’s actual birthplace, and now a permanent home for the event. 2007 marked the official endorsement of Principal Heather Monroe-Blum, and MMICC’s first appearance on Facebook. The event welcomed Lindsay Gordon, President & CEO of HSBC Bank Canada at a cocktail at Sofitel Montreal. Final presentations took place on the newly renovated 4th floor of the Desautels Faculty of Management. Peter Chow and Jean-Louis Nguyen chaired the edition. National University of Singapore took home first place, with SFU coming in second. The team from the University of Washington “walked it out” for 3rd place. The competition welcomed schools from the Czech Republic and Ireland for the first time.

In 2008, the questions & answers period doubled from 5 to 10 minutes, and teams were now allowed to present under their actual school name. Before this, the participants had to use a fictitious team name, and the judges would only find out which school had actually won during the announcement. Organized under the theme “Where Else?”, the current logo was introduced. That year, school advisors joined the fun by forming their own team on a scavenger hunt. The competition, chaired by Aditi Hariharan and Teresita Perez-Salamero, welcomed its first school from Australia. At the closing gala in L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel, Thammasat University became the first-ever repeat champion. NUS finished second, and McGill third. At the conclusion of 2008, MMICC had reached its present overall format.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, the University of Auckland had inaugurated the Champions Trophy in 2008.

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Recent Years of MMICC

In 2009, the competition had its largest-ever judging panel. The theme was “Time to Shine”. The inaugural cocktail kicked off the first day of the competition at the McGill Faculty Club. Closing ceremonies took place inside the historic Club Mount Stephen. Freedom 55 Financial, the number one sponsor that year, presented the first place trophy to USC, with NUS coming in second. UC Berkeley scored a notable third place, despite competing with only 3 students because of travel complications. The edition was chaired by Shifa Panwala and Yana Yuan. MMICC welcomed schools from Turkey and Finland for the first time.

In 2010, MMICC celebrated its 10th anniversary. The competition exceptionally invited back 10 schools who had already ranked in the past, with over half of the schools coming from North America. Cirque du Soleil was the selected case. Alumni representing past years of MMICC joined the 2010 chairs, Khaled Kteily and Emily Price, as well as the participants, organizers and judges at the closing ceremonies, which unfolded at the InterContinental Hotel. Thammasat University was the overall winner, taking home the gold plate for an impressive 3rd time. HKUST and the University of Pennsylvania finished second and third, respectively.

In 2011, the competition ushered a new decade by opening the field to a record 6 new schools, including the American University in Cairo, Egypt. The theme was “New Age, New Challenge”, and the edition was organized by the largest executive team yet, led by Sarah Chow and Annika Lewis. Weeks prior to the actual competition, each team recorded a hype video to introduce themselves and their school on Facebook. Nanyang Technological University and the University of Melbourne won first and third place, respectively. It was the first participation at MMICC for both schools. McGill University won second place on home turf.

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MMICC now has a distinctive reputation for social and academic excellence; bringing the best of Montreal, McGill’s international diversity and the most level-playing field possible. MMICC is “the world’s friendliest case competition”, and perhaps the most fun. Each year, MMICC participants leave Montreal realizing that our event is about so much more than just business. That’s because, through our growth, we were careful in preserving the intimate atmosphere of our competition. And our goal is to deliver on this same promise for decades to come.