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Business teams exhibit Chinese language skills

CHARLIE DUCEY | Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Notre Dame teams placed in the top three at a language- based business competition held at Brigham Young University (BYU) last weekend.

Seniors Ryan Fish and Eric Brumleve, juniors Yixin Huang, Keith Wertsching and Kamala Iodice, and sophomore Wei Lin represented Notre Dame, while students from three other universities, including BYU and Indiana, made up the four other teams in the case competition.(Editor’s note: Lin is a photographer for The Observer.)

According to Wertsching, the presentation for which each team was responsible consisted of providing consulting advice to a Chinese technology company looking to expand into the private cloud market.

“We got the case a week in advance and had to translate and interpret it,” Wertsching said. “Afterwards, we had to create a presentation about the choice we made.  The choice was between targeting large firms, which produced a higher profit margin, or small firms, which presented more opportunity for growth.”

Fish said each team gave its presentation multiple times to judge panels made up of real-world Chinese executives. The student competitors and judges spoke only in Mandarin Chinese throughout the presentations.

“Every team had 15 minutes to present their solution to the problem and then judges asked questions for 10 minutes,” Fish said. “There were three preliminary rounds judged by three to five Chinese business executives. Three teams were selected to advance to the final round and presented their solution a fourth time.”

Fish said he was satisfied with the team’s performance and enjoyed his experience in last weekend’s competition.

“Notre Dame placed in second and third place,” Fish said. “It was an amazing experience that demonstrated the real-world application of both our business and Chinese education. I’m going to attempt to start a similar competition here at Notre Dame.”

Beyond the competition aspect of the trip, participants heard Michael Hoer, a successful businessman in China and a  BYU graduate, deliver a keynote speech about the value of studying foreign languages and cultures, Fish said.

Wertsching said he was particularly impressed with the opportunities to expand his language skill in business situations.

“The trip was an amazing experience to learn and demonstrate a new understanding of the Chinese language,” he said. “The terms, phrases and sentence structures were a unique part of the Chinese language that is not typically studied in a classroom.”

Contact Charlie Ducey at [email protected]