“Intelligence consists of not only knowledge but also the skill to apply the knowledge into practice”
A few weeks ago, together with a group of undergraduate students, we participated in the first Global Family Enterprise Case Competition (FECC). The design of this competition is somewhat similar to the Olympic Games. There were four days of strenuous competition where the students had to analyze three cases not previously published or used in any classroom setting. These were extremely complex and interesting cases.
Pramodita Sharma (the founder and chair of FECC) has noted that “It was in October, 2011 that we shared the idea of launching FECC with the Advisory Board members of the School of Business Administration. The enthusiastic reaction of Dean Sanjay Sharma and members of the Advisory Board confirmed the strength of this idea.”
There were actually two competitions as part of FECC. The first one, which occurred several months before the teams arrived, consisted of the creation of the cases. Rocki-Lee DeWitt, Chair of the FECC Case Writing Competition, received much recognition for her leadership of this process. The on-site team competition consisted of 16 teams.
During the development of the cases, two complex logistics had to be synchronized: the actual case competition as well as the arrangements for judging. The team of ambassadors played an important role here.
Dean Sanjay Sharma, who was in charge of the initiative of the project, did a great job finding sponsors in the Vermont area.
The level of preparation of the students, who were an average of 22 years old, was outstanding. In a highly professional manner they: analyzed data; carried out a correct description of the current situation and conditions; analyzed events and their causes; provided proposals of what action steps were feasible for the family to carry out; and indicated what benefits would arise if the proposals were implemented.
Many of us who serve as consultants could benefit by following the example of the students who participated in the competition. We need to be careful to avoid the trap of making assumptions based on a cursory examination of data, and proposing action steps based on superficial analysis rather than examining the facts in depth.
The students who participated in the competition are the seed and the blood of the future -- future family enterprise practitioners or researchers. I have frequently heard, and stated it myself, that recently graduated students only have knowledge but do not know how to apply the knowledge. The students in this competition proved otherwise. They demonstrated the spirit, skills and ability to put their knowledge into practice.
I am sure that for our team it was an unforgettable experience and that it will mark their professional lives in the next years.
Global Family Enterprise Case Competition (FECC) is carried out by the University of Vermont School of Business, Burlington, Vermont, USA. For more information:
Claudio G. Müller is a Professor at the School of Economics and Business at the University of Chile, the main institution of higher education in Chile. He has been a pioneer in teaching the subject in Chile. At several universities he teaches undergraduate programs in family business governance and business strategy. firstname.lastname@example.org