Media Releases

Rotman teams take two of the three top spots in Manulife: Entry into Asia Challenge

May 23, 2013

TORONTO, ON – A team of students from the Morning MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won first prize in an international business plan competition while a second team of Rotman MBA students landed in third spot.

The winners of The Manulife: Entry into Asia Challenge were announced Tuesday at an awards ceremony at Manulife’s head office in Toronto. Seven finalist teams of business school students presented their business plans submissions to an elite panel of international judges, with First Prize of $100,000 awarded to: New Horizons (Aisha Bukhari, MBA’15, Aristotle Solomon, MBA’15,  Lak Chinta, MBA’15 and Peter Cinat,  MBA’15) from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto who worked on a Community Energy Storage plan for Japan. Second and third place prizes of $50,000 and $20,000, respectively were also awarded.  The recipients were: Lumi Strategists (Jiemi Gao and Kevin Zhou) from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario who worked on a medical technology plan for China. Frontier Consulting (Ryan Appotive, MBA’13, Melita Cyril, MBA’13, Ian Sin, MBA’13 and Leslie Wong, MBA’13) from the Rotman School, who worked on a telecommunications plan for Myanmar.

The Manulife: Entry into Asia Challenge asked undergraduate and graduate business school students at Canadian universities to create a business plan for a Canadian small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) to expand into any market in Asia. Competing teams demonstrated their ability to think strategically about entry into Asian markets while demonstrating their understanding of the unique attributes, challenges and realities facing Canadian SMEs.

“I would like to thank all of the students and business owners who responded and entered the Manulife: Entry into Asia Challenge. We hope all of the entrants will succeed in turning their business plans into successful ventures in Asia and ignite the imagination of Canadian businesses overall,” says Manulife Financial President and Chief Executive Officer Donald Guloien. “I would also like to thank the judges and the Rotman School of Management for their role in making this a success.” The judges of the Manulife: Entry into Asia Challenge were:

  • Ramona Cheng: Executive Director of Ernst & Young and the Americas Markets Leader of Ernst & Young’s China Business Network.
  • Philip Leong: Vice President and Director, and Chairman’s Council member at RBC Dominion Securities and represents Canada in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council.
  • Jacqueline Sava: Founder and Director of Possibilities of Soak Wash Inc., whose products are exported to Japan.

This one-time only competition was sponsored by Manulife Financial and managed by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is redesigning business education for the 21st century with a curriculum based on Integrative Thinking. Located in the world’s most diverse city, the Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables the design of creative business solutions. The School is currently raising $200 million to ensure Canada has the world-class business school it deserves. For more information, visit


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Ken McGuffin
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Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto
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