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Cross one PhD with three MBAs and what happens?

11 July 2006

What do you get when you cross one PhD with three MBAs?
A winning formula.

AUT University students won the top postgraduate award in the 2006 Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Business Strategy Competition New Zealand final last Friday, July 7.

The winning team includes PhD student Saliya Arachchige, a former KPMG auditor, and MBA students, Karen Albuquerque, Karen Rolleston and Erica Waters.

The group will travel to the University of New South Wales in Sydney to compete in the Australasian grand final in September.

The business management competition is the largest of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, with 55 teams from 36 universities participating last year.

It was founded by the University of New South Wales Commerce and Economics Society in 1991 to give students an opportunity to apply their academic knowledge to issues faced in the corporate world.

The competition is divided into postgraduate and undergraduate divisions. Students in teams of four to six people have three hours to develop solutions to complex business case studies. They then have 20 minutes to impress a judging panel of BCG consultants and business leaders.

Vice President of the Boston Consulting Group Tom von Oertzen says the competition is regarded as Australasia's premier management competition.

"It is keenly contested as any football or sporting competition at this time of the year," he says.

"For the winners the rewards can include unsurpassed networking opportunities, the potential to fast-track careers in management consulting or with major corporations, and for undergraduates, a cash prize."

He says the ultimate accolade is to be judged "best in the class" by some of Australia and New Zealand's leading business executives.

Associate Professor in Management Coral Ingley coached the team in the run up to the competition. She says the team's commitment and hard work paid off.

"Their willingness to put in the time over eight weeks of preparation and their collective strategic capability were a key part of the winning formula," she says.

"It was particularly rewarding that according to the judges the team was a clear winner on the basis of solid strategic thinking."

In their feedback, the judges said they were impressed with the quality and coverage of the team's analysis of the case and their clarity in presenting the main strategic options and the chosen strategy, she says.

New Zealand competition judges were the Boston Consulting Group's Matthew Mooney and Alex Price, Rubicon Vice President Simon Aimer and BNZ's Head of Technology and Operations Matthew Barr.

The New Zealand final was held at AUT's Business School. University of Canterbury won the New Zealand undergraduate division.


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