Kelly Aceto

Management Major Rebecca Frutos and Team Impress Judges During UConn’s CIBER Challenge

Students at the 11th Annual UConn CIBER Case Challenge
Students at the 11th Annual UConn CIBER Case Challenge

Not only did UConn senior Rebecca Frutos win two awards at the 11th Annual UConn CIBER Case Challenge, but she ended the competition with a network of new friends across the globe.

“It was such a good experience,” she said. “All of us came at this project with completely different perspectives. We played off everyone’s strengths and knowledge, and that made our presentation even better.”Continue Reading

School of Business Awarded $1.1M CIBER Grant To Focus on Manufacturing & Global Opportunities

The University of Connecticut School of Business has been awarded a four-year U.S. Department of Education CIBER grant in excess of $1.1 million, to produce a series of programs and partnerships that center around manufacturing.


The CIBER—Center for International Business Education and Research—award comes following an extremely competitive application process in which only half of applicants had their awards renewed.Continue Reading

UConn Students Compete in 7th Annual Business Language Case Competition

On Friday, November 8, three students from the University of Connecticut traveled to Provo, Utah to compete in the Seventh Annual Business Language Case Competition at the Brigham Young University (BYU) Marriott School of Business. The three students were Sarah Scheffel ’14, a senior who is majoring in international business with a minor in Spanish, Akanksha Singh ’16, a second-year student studying finance and Spanish, and Jonathan Sanchez ’14 (CLAS), a political science major also in his last year. The team was accompanied by Kelly Aceto, Managing Director of the UConn Center for International Business Education and Research.

The competition was conducted in two categories: Spanish and Mandarin. All of the participants were non-native speakers of each language. The team from UConn participated in the Spanish competition, in which they had to read a case about Wal-Mart’s expansion into organics, create an executive summary and PowerPoint presentation, and answer ten minutes of questions all in Spanish.

Overall, the BYU competition was an incredible experience for the students who took part because it allowed them to showcase their business acumen and foreign language skills, sharpen their presentation skills for real-life global business situations, and network with international business professionals who served as judges and coaches, as well as the other participants. Other schools present at the competition were Arizona State University, University of Miami, Indiana University, American University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, Utah State University, and University of Notre Dame. This is the first year that UConn has participated in the Business Language Case Competition.

The UConn team was sponsored by the UConn Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), which is one of the 33 CIBERs located in top business schools throughout the U.S. The UConn CIBER is mandated to increase the competitiveness of U.S. business in the global marketplace.

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UConn’s CIBER Case Challenge Proposes Solutions to Real-World International Business Issue

From October 9-12, the UConn School of Business hosted students from universities across the globe to participate in a case competition to solve a real-world challenge.

Now in its third year hosting the CIBER Case Challenge competition, the UConn School of Business Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) has taken charge in its mission to increase the competitiveness of U.S. business in the global marketplace, as set forth by the U.S. Department of Education. This year’s competition brought together students hailing from 12 different colleges and universities located within the U.S. as well as higher education institutions as far away as Tokyo, Japan.

Kelly Aceto, managing director of the CIBER Case Challenge, led the event, proposing a challenging problem derived from the global business marketplace for which teams of students were required to envision a solution. The problem was kept secret until its official announcement at 9 a.m. on Friday, October 11, at which point the case was distributed. This year’s challenge? To determine if Gillette should bring its Guard razor into the U.S. market. “I have participated in several case competitions, and this one was very different not only because of the international nature of the problem, but also because everyone on our team had a different area of study, whether it was marketing, accounting, operations, or finance,” says Ningwei Li, a finance and economics major at the University of Maryland, College Park, who came in among the top three finalists for “Best Presenter” in the preliminary round. Each team was comprised of four students from four different universities, each studying a different business discipline.

Unlike traditional case competitions, the CIBER Case Challenge tasked students to demonstrate their ability to work in teams consisting of students from varying cultures and nations. Students first met their teammates virtually two weeks before arriving on the Storrs, Connecticut campus. To facilitate greater bonding within teams prior to the case distribution, students traveled to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in a series of team challenges set against the backdrop of Connecticut’s historical seaport. “My team had students from Italy, California, Arizona, and Rhode Island. I’ve never traveled out of the country, so this experience enabled me to make a lot of connections I wouldn’t have made otherwise,” says Joseph Bona, a management major at Bryant University.

On the third day of the event, students presented their case solutions to a panel of judges composed of international business executives from the local tri-state area business community. Presentations were evaluated based on content (60%) and presentation (40%), considering whether the students did their research, logically supported their conclusions, and whether those conclusions would realistically be accepted by management. “They [the presentations] exceeded my expectations,” says Phil Ferrari, CFO at Virginia Industries, Inc., one of the event judges. “The students were intelligent, cohesive, and desirous to do an outstanding job. Quite impressive.”

The evaluations of the judges held serious weight for the student competitors; only three teams advanced to the final round later that day. “It was hard work to differentiate between the groups as they were excellent,” adds Ferrari. “Groups like this will bode well for the future of business in the U.S.”

The finalists were announced at an awards dinner on Saturday evening, where they were presented with plaques acknowledging their accomplishment:

First Place

GianMarco Taverna, University of North Carolina
Ellie Lin, Purdue University
Margaret Wong, Bryant University
Ihinosen Dibua, Pittsburg University

Second Place

Dallin Shaner, Brigham Young University
Nicole Green, University of Connecticut
Sergio Alessandro Castagnetti, University of Trento
Ben Hsieh, University of Maryland

Third Place

Daisuke Honjo, Rikkyo University
Leah Gonzalez, University of North Carolina
Esther Buck, Belmont University
Josh Emmett, University of Connecticut

Best Presenter
Dallin Shaner, Brigham Young University

Best Q&A
Leah Gonzalez, University of North Carolina

“This experience has been amazing,” says Li. “Despite our differences, most, if not all, of the students are like-minded with how we approach school, career, and our aspirations – with an ambitious, positive attitude. That’s how we connected.” he says.

This year marks the first time that two UConn students have placed among the top three teams in the CIBER Case Challenge. “They were well prepared,” says Aceto. “Paul Borochin, assistant professor of finance at the School of Business, spent a lot of time with the students as they got ready to face the challenges of a case competition.”

In an ever-changing international business climate, the United States has public universities like the University of Connecticut to depend on to challenge their own students to work with students of different backgrounds and nationalities. UConn is one of 33 universities nationwide designated as national resource centers for international business, with UConn CIBER in existence since 1995.

For more information:

CIBER Case Challenge

Pictured: One of the student teams, awarded first place for teamwork during their excursion to Mystic, poses in the School of Business atrium: Raaheela Ahmed, finance and economics major at the University of Maryland; Mike Masso, finance major at the UConn School of Business; Mac Bellingrath, marketing major at Belmont University, and Johanna Kuehl, an accounting major at Manchester Business School.

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