(L to R) Marinn Young, Aaron Motley, Sterling Smith and McKenzie Polsak
(L to R) Marinn Young, Aaron Motley, Sterling Smith and McKenzie Polsak

A team of four Washington State University business students took first place at the 2014 Consortium of Undergraduate International Business Education (CUIBE) global strategy case competition held at Northeastern University.

CUIBE is a consortium of schools and universities with undergraduate international business programs who wish to facilitate best practices in international business education. In the fall semester of each year, 16 teams consisting of four undergraduate students each from the nation’s leading business schools converge in Boston to participate in the two-day event and share best business practices.

WSU students Aaron Motley, McKenzie Polsak, Sterling Smith and Marinn Young took the top award for their business plan that assisted a small boutique winery in Israel to successfully enter the Chinese market.

The students developed a two-part strategy, starting in year one with a partnership with Air China. The airline would offer the wine to first and business class customers to gain the attention of a target market of a growing, affluent urban population. In year two, the team suggested a partnership with a distributor of luxury wine, using its established networks to get the brand into exclusive hotels, restaurants, and promotional events.

“Since Israeli wine does not have any exposure in China, our goal was to increase the company’s profit margins rather than gain market share,” Motley explained. “This is where the company went wrong the first time it tried to introduce the wine. Chinese consumers are unlikely to voluntarily pick a premium wine from an unknown brand over other established imported brands from France, for example.”

“Dr. Joshi did a fantastic job preparing us,” said Smith. “Our vision and understanding of the Chinese culture and values supported our case and made us stand out above all of our competitors.”

Kalvin N. Joshi, clinical associate professor of management, information systems, and entrepreneurship in the WSU Carson College of Business, coached the team.

“Each student equally brought individual strengths and capabilities to the team,” he said. “Their strategic business plan and presentations were robust, cogent and persuasive. They were selected to advance to the finals over a very competitive bracket, which included the current number one ranked international business school in the country.”

“The opportunity to act as a real consultant for a real problem gave me an advanced understanding of what a career in consulting would be like,” said Motley. “This competition allowed me to connect with an elite group of students from business schools throughout the United States and Canada. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.”

To learn more about the CUIBE global strategy case competition, contact Kalvin Joshi at