Spring 2003


Business School Team Places 4th Worldwide


A team from the Graduate School of Business, one of the University’s youngest units, and one of the youngest business schools in the country, made it into the finals of the international L’Oreal e-Strat Challenge.  Beating out 13 other teams in its region, including 8 others from Israel , the University of Haifa student business strategists Yoav Kahane, Guy Grabarsky, and Gal Wollach competed against teams from Harvard and six other business schools around the world at the finals in Paris toward the end of April.

        The Haifa GSBA team finished 4th, tied with the team from New York University.  Business School Dean Prof. Nahum Biger called it "a fantastic achievement."

        "They worked hard, long hours," Biger said in commending the trio.  Prior to the Finals, a congratulatory telegram from the well-known French cosmetics firm L’Oreal, sponsors of the competition, informed the students, “You will [now] be able to shine in front of an audience of top professionals, professionals, and students from around the world at the Final Awards Ceremony.  The spotlight will be on you….”

        The competition received applications from more than 8,000 teams world wide.  Of these, 800 teams were accepted, and divided into seven zones.  By the end of the fifth week and stage 1 of the competition, 215 teams had survived.  In mid-March, the L’Oreal e-Strat Challenge Committee informed the Haifa threesome that they were the “zone leaders of Other Countries.”  The University of Haifa team was one of the eight finalists.  The other zones were North America , Latin America , Europe (2 regions), Asia Pacific, and South East Asia .”

        The team of Kahane, Grabarsky, and Wollach, like the other contestants, had simulated the management of a company with two products.  They received information about the company’s market shares and distribution channels, its financial situation, costs estimates, etc.  All competing “companies” started from an identical base line, and then the student management teams had to make weekly decisions, each week representing six months of business life.  Referees scored each section of their business plan.

        What made the three students winning material and brought them into the finals was the grand total of the education they had received, their innate business acumen, and, to quote the Challenge committee, “[their] determination to succeed, no matter what the odds.”

        In Paris , they were informed, the three students “will be treated as e-Strat VIPs from the moment your taxi picks you up from the airport, to the exclusive Final Awards Ceremony on your last night.”  No doubt ringing in the ears of these future Israeli business leaders from the time they received the telegram was the committee’s urging to “keep up that fighting spirit.”    Regardless of outcome, however, Professor Biger expressed the University’s attitude, “We are all very proud of the achievement of the Trio.”  Of course, the first prize of an all-expenses paid week’s vacation anywhere in the world likely keeps that ringing from being drowned out.


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