Training, presentation and a different perspective has helped three University of New England (UNE) Business School students win an international case study competition in Miami.
Sarah Wall, Max Laurie and Rebecca Clapperton beat 80 other contestants from every continent (apart from Antarctica) to win the Undergraduate division of the 2017 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Student Case Competition.
The team, all from farming backgrounds, earned the IFAMA winner’s plaque after beating a team from a Chinese university with 50,000 on-campus students.
The win was announced at the IFAMA World Conference in Miami, where student teams from across the world assembled to address a business challenge — in 2017, on how IFAMA can move to a more viable business model.
UNE was also represented by a postgraduate team, made up by Christina Stannard, Matthew Winkel and Casey Onus.
Team manager, UNE’s Sally Strelitz, who accompanied the UNE teams with their academic advisor, Dr Stuart Mounter, said the trio distinguished itself by looking past conventional answers and bringing some new ideas to the table — like a sustainability checklist for agribusinesses that would enable them to earn IFAMA endorsement.
Presentation was also a key. The team was supported in this area by Lyn Gollan from UNE’s Law School, and a member of Toastmasters.
The team trained in presenting their case every Friday afternoon for a trimester, from 12-6 pm.
Ms Clapperton, a fourth year Bachelor of Agriculture and Business student, did most of her training via Skype from her home in Central Queensland. She grew up on a beef cattle property.
Ms Wall, in her third year of a Bachelor Agriculture/Business degree at UNE, is from a sheep and cattle grazing property near Wean, NSW.
Mr Laurie, in his third year of a Bachelor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, is from a New England beef property.
Ms Streltiz said the final round, in which the team from a small Australian regional university was able to edge out a team from a large Chinese university, demonstrated that knowledge and agility better supported innovation than sheer scale.
The theme of the 2017 IFAMA conference continues the three-year initiative, Become the Solution: Food Security 2050, that was introduced in 2015 – which was also the first year UNE students participated in the competition. UNE is currently also the only Australian university to participate in this competition.
The support of several sponsors was essential element to the UNE team’s presence at the IFAMA World Conference. They included Syngenta — whose marketing manager, Courtney Williams, visited UNE to support the team’s training — Ceres Ag, Guyra Milling, Rabobank, Rex Airlines and UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Science.