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The World Comes to Marshall

23rd International Case Competition brings high-powered teams from business schools around the globe.

February 14, 2020
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The 23rd annual is a little different this year, and not for the reasons you might suspect.

Despite international headlines, MICC administrators say they are seeing great enthusiasm on the part of teams from leading business schools around the globe.

As excitement builds, the teams have even been greeting each other in advance of the event on

Teams from 20 business schools are competing, including four that are new to the competition; the University of Mumbai, the University of New South Wales in Australia, University of Navarra in Spain and Florida State University.

“These students go on to become the next generation of business leaders. We know this because we can go back 10 years and see where they ended up—and they’re at Google, Goldman Sachs, places like that. It’s just who they are.”—Sean O'Connell, director of international business programs at USC Marshall

This year’s event sponsor, Adobe Systems, has also taken a more hands-on approach than is usual, according to coordinators. The company has provided not only the usual financial support and information, but it has given all participants a free year’s access its Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and are hosting interactive training sessions for those products. The student participants will use these tools for their presentations.

“Creativity and communications are key soft business skills that Adobe is particularly interested in promoting at the Marshall International Case Competition and beyond,” said Sean O’Connell, director of international business programs at USC Marshall.

about its participation in the event.

John Murphy (MBA ’99), Adobe’s Executive Vice President and CFO, will be the event’s keynote speaker, as well as a judge. 

“Adobe has said it wants to be fully vested in the program,” said O’Connell. “And it has been very involved in the run-up to the actual event.”

Even the case competition prompt is higher-stakes. “The prompt this year is an actual pain point,” said O’Connell. “They are very interested in seeing a solution.”

The World at Marshall

The Marshall International Case Competition launched in 1997. Each year it brings a number of case teams from international and domestic business schools.

Such events are intensive and voluntary—that is, students take time out of their already busy schedules to train and then compete. There is no pay (barring any award money) and no credit.

But such pressure draws a certain kind of high-powered student, said O’Connell. The students network with the sponsor, of course, and get feedback from other professional judges. They also get to network with each other.  Before and after the event, of course.

“These students go on to become the next generation of business leaders,” he said. “We know this because we can go back 10 years and see where they ended up—and they’re at Google, Goldman Sachs, places like that. It’s just who they are.”

Case competitions also give students the opportunity to learn a lot about the business world in a short amount of time.

“It mimics the real-world,” said O’Connell. “But of course if you were an actual consultant you’d get more than 24 hours to solve a problem and make a presentation to leadership.”

USC Marshall team members this year include Angel Yang WBB ’20, Aaron Huang ’20, Brian Kong ’21 and CoCo Chen ’21.

The event takes place Feb. 18-22 at USC Marshall School of Business on the University Park Campus.