facing the challenge

The annual Live Case Challenge inspires Management students to innovate and think on their feet to solve complex problems. In 2017, a winning combo of students recommended modern packaging to crack open a new market.

BIG IDEA, SLIM PACKAGING. Health-conscious beverages you can drink on the go was the winning idea for the 2017 Live Case Challenge, a pitch for packaging green juice in a slim aluminum can to entice younger consumers.

Describing the day of fast-paced presentations and scrutiny by the judges as “gruelling,” third-year students Alan Blackwell, Jonathan Donahoe, Kirsten Haayer and Olivia Johnson took a big breather after completing the final round, waiting to hear the judges’ decisions at the awards ceremony.

“Live Case tests how you are under pressure,” said Johnson.

“We had six weeks to work on this,” added Haayer, “and we had to maintain that steam throughout that time, hammering down implementation and keeping that effort up right to the final seconds, so that you’re giving it everything you’ve got.”

Third-year Bachelor of Management students at UBC’s Okanagan campus must tackle a complex opportunity from one local organization. In the annual Live Case Challenge, only one group comes out on top, receiving the Argus Cup and a $5,000 prize.

Working on a Live Case

Live Case Challenge is so much more than a competition—it is an educational rite of passage for Management students.

The contest assigns students a real or “live” challenge that an organization is grappling with at that time.

Applying their classroom learning, students spend six weeks breaking down the case, researching the industry, developing options and outlining creative and sustainable solutions.

Then the deadline arrives. In tournament-style rounds, groups of students present their recommendations in front of a panel of judges, including professors, alumni and representatives from the case organization. They are scored according to the innovation of their idea, quality of analysis and overall performance.

Teams have only moments between rounds to refine their presentation during competition day, if they get the chance to move forward at all. During the final round, only three teams present in front of a packed theatre of peers and professionals – but all students emerge with the experience of working on a live scenario.



Recent Cases

Pro Builders Supply-Home Hardware Building Centre asked students to consider a range of growth opportunities that would build on their present business model and strategy.



Western Canada’s leading producer of apple juice turned to Management students for bold ideas that could help their company grow and meet the needs of health-conscious consumers.


The municipality’s climate action plan anticipates vehicle kilometres reducing by 20 per cent. The case asked students: How do we reduce vehicle trips within Kelowna?




This global software firm asked students to investigate options that would focus on sales to other businesses and organizations.




This community-based non-profit asked students to investigate viable solutions to five assisted-living challenges around the theme of healthy living and chronic disease prevention.




A Kelowna-based video-production agency needed a business strategy to launch a new online product—specifically seeking the students’ fresh perspective to propel their tech startup to the next level.

Growth requires people. Disney Club Penguin asked students for strategies about how to recruit and retain talented employees.




Winning the Argus Cup

The stakes are high for Live Case Challenge. Teams are graded on the first round of presentations, and make up a portion of their grade in a core Management class.

The top-three teams win tuition-credit prizes, and the winning team earns $5,000 and the coveted Argus Cup. Names of students who won over the six years of the competition are engraved into the cup, named after title sponsor Argus Properties Ltd., a full-service real estate investment and development company based in the Okanagan.

Participating organizations gain innovative solutions they can put into practice. For many students, the biggest reward of Live Case Challenge is the change in their perspective.

“It’s a two-part situation: you are going for grades, but you also want to provide the best option for the company you are working with,” said Blackwell.

“Balancing the two was a challenge, but very exciting.”