One of the most valuable opportunities of being at Imperial College Business School is the chance to become involved in a diverse range of extra-curricular events and activities. This is something that Imperial actively promotes and our team were able to directly benefit from, having recently taken part in a business case competition hosted in South Korea.
At the beginning of the year, our MSc Management Programme team advertised the World Asian Business Case Competition 2016 on the topic of ‘How Asian Brands Soar’. The aim of the competition was to study successful Asian companies and learn about their key success factors, challenges they overcame, and future direction. Hosted by the ‘Asian Academy of Business’ (AAB), the specific focus was on drawing attention to leaders in the world of Asian business, looking at the strategies that companies should employ when competing in Asia.
Our team was immediately interested in this opportunity. Not only were the awards for the Top 10 entries hugely desirable – publication in AAB’s Asian case study book sent to prestigious universities across the world, as well as a trip to South Korea and a chance to win $1,000 – but we already knew the company we would choose. As our team are borderline-obsessive NBA followers, we were already aware of the first ever Asian company to make a sponsorship deal in the NBA: Li-Ning.
Having chosen our company, we then had to go through two rounds of the competition before we could present our case study in South Korea. The first round was simply to explain which company we had decided to examine, why we thought Li-Ning were a particularly interesting case study and the lessons other Asian companies could learn from Li-Ning.
For the second round, the real work began. We set about writing a full 25-page report on ‘The Rise and Fall of Li-Ning’, describing the company’s history, rise to prominence, and subsequent fall from grace. By using our knowledge of theoretical frameworks learned from the MSc Management and analytical capabilities, we were then able to add in our own insights as to how Li-Ning were able to enjoy such a monumental rise, paying particular attention to their use of brand positioning and sponsorships throughout their history. This helped form our view of the future of Li-Ning, looking at the challenges they are currently facing, and our view of their needed actions to regain their position in the Chinese Sportswear market, taking into account the current business environment and recent developments in areas as varied as the Chinese economy, the rise of ‘athleisure’ and transfers in the NBA.
One of the biggest challenges was managing our time throughout this period. As well as making time to research, discuss and structure our findings, we had to balance this with our other university work. Finding the time to write the report proved a little difficult; however, this would have been much harder without the support we received from Imperial. We were mentored by Dr. Ian Mackenzie, our Strategic Management lecturer, and were able to request research material from our Programme team whenever needed.
On our first full day in South Korea – August 13th – we attended AAB’s conference where we would be presenting our report in Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), in their incredible campus in Seoul. Cliché though it may sound, listening to the other Top 10 contestant’s presentations helped prove how well we had done simply to reach this stage. This was easily the most interesting part of our day – from learning about Tencent’s strategy to make WeChat a constant companion to its users throughout the day, to the ability of YG Entertainment to churn out K-Pop stars, we sat genuinely riveted by the presentations we heard.
We did not win the competition, but our report will be included in the AAB’s book ‘How Asian Brands Soar’. Moreover, we met incredible people through the competition – from the other contestants to the volunteers and people who arranged the competition. Furthermore, we were able to make the most of our time in South Korea. Having just completed our MSc in Management by the time we got to South Korea, we were able to see everything from the Gyeongbokgung Palace to K-Pop competitions, eat the delicious array of food, and even experience South Korean nightlife, trying ‘Soju’ and being dragged along to Korean Karaoke bars.
This article was written by Matthew Russell-Cheung, Peter Koczerzat and Máté Deutsch who were all students on MSc Management 2015-16.