Excusez Moi, No Need to Pardon our French Team

PROVO, Utah – Feb 27, 2019 – BYU’s French language team made no apologies at the Whitmore Global Management Center’s (GMC) annual Business Language Case Competition (BLCC) held during the fall 2018 semester, taking first place in the brand-new French category. The French team competed against universities from across the country in the event, now in its twelfth year.

For its most recent competition, the GMC partnered with Taft Clothing, an upscale shoe retailer based in Provo, Utah, to create a case study for the participants. Teams were charged with creating a logistical plan for Taft to expand into foreign markets.

Adding French as a fourth language in addition to Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic generated further interest in the event. Students, such as Julia Hansen, a senior at BYU double majoring in French and Psychology, seized the chance to participate in an event that previously did not include their second language. For Hansen, the BLCC presented the perfect opportunity to develop business acumen without the risks of the real world.

“I own a company right now with a few partners,” Hansen says. “I’m always looking to get as much experience as I can, especially in the safe setting of a case competition.” However, business experience was not the only motivation for students competing in the BLCC; winning teams from each of the four language categories received cash prizes of $2,000 to split between the three team members.

Joining BYU’s French team as first place winners were the University of Utah’s Arabic team, American University’s Spanish team, and Indiana University’s Chinese team. For the winners, claiming first place wasn’t just about the cash prize, it also served as a source of motivation.

“Winning the competition was extremely validating,” says Ethan McAndrews, a sophomore on Indiana’s Chinese team. “It’s a great source of motivation as we look to see how we can incorporate Chinese in our careers.” Amelia Reuben, a freshman on American’s Spanish team, agrees. “I’m not sure yet how Spanish will influence my career,” says Reuben, an international business major. “But now I’m definitely motivated to use Spanish more in the future.”

As a Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), BYU Marriott seeks to increase the nation’s capacity to excel in international business. Encouraging students to continue developing their business language skills is a key part of why the GMC hosts the annual competition.

“Mastery of these languages is an integral part of building global competencies for these students,” says Jonathon Wood, GMC managing director. “The chance to apply what they’re learning about business through a second language gives them a newfound confidence, strength, and ability as they prepare for future careers.”

According to judges, the best presentations demonstrated superior language skills along with business expertise and, perhaps the most elusive component of all, an intimate and profound knowledge of the culture in question. “It’s essential to learn the culture and how that culture influences the people to react in different ways,” says one BLCC judge. The entire panel of judges agreed that a heightened cultural awareness is a crucial component of any successful international business venture and urged students to work hard to develop it.

Students that went the extra mile to think through cultural implications during their presentations ultimately provided added benefit to Taft Clothing. Marshall Smith, Chief Operations Officer at Taft, expressed his appreciation for the students’ efforts. “We’re excited to go through every one of your reports, as soon as we get them translated,” Smith told the participants.

“We’ve loved being a part of the BLCC this year,” he added. “Seeing the high caliber of students and the effort they’ve put into the project gives me great confidence that we’ll find success in implementing their work.”

BLCC Winners
One of the winning teams

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Carson Perry