Competitions - SDS Business Case Competition | UC Centre for Entrepreneurship

SDS Business Case Competition

First launched in 2010, the SDS Competition is an annual international business case competition developed by the Student Development Society (SDS).

Supported by the Council of Deans, SDS is a unique collaboration between six New Zealand universities and is run by representatives from Victoria, Auckland, AUT, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago. With financial and human resources from these universities, SDS provides invaluable opportunities for students.

What is the SDS Competition?

The SDS Business Case Competition brings together teams of four students from the six participating New Zealand universities. Over the course of three national competitions throughout the year, the teams compete against each other before being joined by an additional six teams from around the globe for a finals week in Queenstown.

At each of the three national competitions, teams have five hours to analyse a business case and prepare their solution for the panel of five judges. The judging panel, alongside an academic from the host university, includes four individuals from the local business community. The competition is designed to emulate a real world scenario in which a team of consultants prepare and present a solution to a board of directors.

What are the benefits of participating in the competition?

Participating in the competition in itself is a highly rewarding experience. You will build your confience, develop team and leadership skills, hone your analytical thinking and become a polished presenter. As well as the national competitions, the finals week in Queenstown is an opportunity for you to go up against teams from around the globe to further expand your networks on a global scale and benchmark against wrold class standards.

Key benefits include:

  • Point of difference to employers
  • Expand your professional network
  • Receive fully funded travel around New Zealand


Want to get involved in 2017?

As a current UC student, you can now submit an expression of interest to be a part of the 2017 SDS Businesses Case Competition. Register your interest by completing this form.

Note: this competition is open to undergraduate students who are under 25 years-old on 1 September 2017. 

Any questions or inquiries, contact Michelle Panzer at

Important Dates

  • March 1st (12pm): Expressions of Interest Due ✔
  • March 3rd & 6th: Trials ✔
  • April 8th: Round 1 (Auckland) ✔
  • May 13th; Round 2 (Auckland) ✔
  • July 22nd: Round 3 (AUT)
  • August 27th - September 1st: International Finals Week (Queenstown)

Round Three (22 July) - AUT



Coach Paul Knott with Team: Ben Cooper, Michaela Lees, Cameron Scott & Stephan Hofmann

On the 22nd of July, AUT hosted the third and final round of the National League of SDS Business Case Competition. The team, consisting of Ben Cooper, Stephan Hoffman, Michaela Lees & Cameron Scott, headed to Auckland with the aim of claiming a place for UC.

The company the team were presented with was very different to any organisation SDS had provided in the past - mega car-wholesaler, CarMax Inc., from the USA. With no key issues, given the huge success of the company, it allowed the team to focus on future-proofing strategies for CarMax to ensure continued growth and success in this market. The judges were impressed with UC team’s ideas, including the introduction of electric vehicles to their product line. It was a balancing act of trying to find a solution that produced tangible targets, as well as adhering to the longstanding values of CarMax.

The UC presented last and received great feedback from the judges on the recommendations and overall presentation. They highlighted how well the team worked together, particularly during the Q & A time. The judges had a tough decision on their hands choosing the winners and the UC team was awarded 3rd place. This leaves UC tied third-equal overall for the National Competition, with Auckland taking out first spot.

Strategic Management Senior Lecturer and Coach Dr Paul Knott joined the team on case day for our presentation and feedback.

Round Two (13 May) - Auckland

The team Nasif Azam, Ben Cooper, Michaela Lees and Will Chambers with Coach, Paul Knott

On the 12th of May, a new team headed to Auckland for the second round of the National League of the SDS business case competition. Nasif Azam, Will Chambers, Ben Cooper & Michaela Lees were fresh faces to the competition and were excited to be part of the team representing UC.

All six teams competing were presented with a business case on the charity of Look Good Feel Better New Zealand. The team came up with various strategies and marketing techniques for Look Good Feel Better to implement into their business model, in order to reach more diverse demographic groups into their organisation. It was an interesting case which we all enjoyed working on and presenting our recommendations to the General Manager of Look Good Feel Better, Clare O'Higgins, was a definite highlight. The rest of the judging panel consisted of an Investment Banker & Analyst from Deutsche Craig's, a Solicitor from Russell McVeagh and an Account Manager from Nestle NZ.

Strategic Management Senior Lecturer & Coach Dr Paul Knott joined the team on case day for their presentation and feedback. While the team did not come out with a placing this round, Clare O'Higgins was really impressed with the teams ideas and thoughtful approach to the case, and she could see our recommendations being a part of the next chapter of Look Good Feel Better NZ. The judging panel gave the team some great feedback, and being able to watch the other teams present was a great opportunity to gain some more insight for future competitions. The University of Auckland took out first place for the second time this year.

Round One (8 April) - Auckland

The team Dan Chan, Isabelle Smith, Katherine Pearse and Stephan Hofmann

On the final day of term one (7th of April), Dan Chan, Isabelle Smith, Stephan Hofmann and Katherine Pearse were bound for Auckland. The team of four were chosen to compete in the first round of the 2017 National League of SDS (Student Development Society) business case competition.

All teams at the National League were presented with a business case on engineering consultancy firm, Beca. It considered the opportunities, positioning and talent acquisition challenges faced by the Business Advisory arm of the organisation. On the judging panel was Matthew Ensor from Beca (Business Director in Advisory) as well as two representatives from PwC.

The team came up with strategies for growth through specialization, development concepts for positioning in the market and brand awareness to provide opportunities for gaining top talent.

Coach Dr Paul Knott, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management joined the team on Saturday to watch the presentations and sit in for final feedback before the awards were announced. The UC team were incredibly excited to come away with second place, narrowly losing out to those on home turf, The University of Auckland.


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