Assignment pays off for winning business students
by Benson Chao
FIVE Chinese University graduates have won $10,000 for their ''clear thinking'' in a business course assignment they entered in a competition.
In the manner of business consultants, the team had to conduct an analysis and make recommendations for an international trading company.
As well as the prize, the project ''A Strategy Audit on Dickson Concepts (International) Limited'' won the then Year 3 students Florence Cheung Wong-ang, Karen Lee Ming-oi, Carmen Sham Heung-wah, Sophia Wong Bing-ching and Senia Ho Ngai-foon course points as one of their many assignments for their Department of Management course.
The competition, open to all undergraduates taking the business policy/strategy class, was initiated two years ago by Department of Marketing lecturer Julie H. Yu, and C. K. Tsang of the Business Consulting Group (BCG). Since then, it has been financially supported by the BCG.
Florence Cheung who specialised in the marketing section of the project said: ''As we looked more closely in this area [business strategy] in September last year, we got more and more interested and ended up putting in extra effort.
''But we didn't submit our project to BCG until our supervisor, Professor Lane Kelley, advised us to refine the project.'' The competition attracted 489 students and nine team projects (of four or five students each) survived the department's initial screening.
The finalists' projects were assessed by five BCG professionals according to two main criteria: whether the project shows accurate evidence backing up assumptions, and whether sound recommendations were provided.
The judging process lasted three months.
BCG vice-president, Alex Y. Liu, was especially impressed by the ''clear thinking'' shown in the winning project.
''The well-structured and distinguished presentation of their project added extra points to their overall performance,'' he said.
The project, which cost the five less than $100, encompasses a set of assumptions backed up with all the evidence they collected from the annual reports of the Dickson Concepts company.
Since the concept of business strategy is relatively new in Hong Kong, the students had to seek help from a financial analyst.
The most vital section of the project are the recommendations focusing on the ever-expanding China market.
Leon L. Cheung, one of the assistant consultants of BCG, said: ''There are two main purposes to this competition. First, we hope the competition will spread the concept of business consultancy on business strategy to the Chinese society since this concept is still new to Chinese businessmen. Second, we hope the entrants will all have a better idea of how a company runs.
''This first-hand knowledge is very vital for their career development.'' And in another winners' bonus, the five students said that during their many discussions, they had learned to be ''constructively critical'' of others' ideas''.