Business Administration diploma students Jessica Dyck, Siearra Fries, and Erin Woods are heading to Montreal to compete in the Vanier College BDC Case Challenge February 7-9. They will be the first team from Yukon College to compete in what has become the most prestigious, national, collegiate level marketing case competition in the country, with 33 teams hailing from British Columbia to Newfoundland.
“We want to move the program beyond lecture-based classes and develop more experiential learning opportunities for our students. A competition such as this allows the students to put a combination of their management, economic, marketing and presentation skills and understanding to the test on real-world business cases,” said Christina Thomas, Chair of the School of Management, Tourism and Hospitality. “It is also an opportunity for the three to see how they stack up against other students from across the country.”
During a case competition students must analyze a never-before-seen business problem, create a winning marketing strategy, and prepare and deliver an 18-20 minute presentation, before a panel of experts from business, industry and education, in only three hours.
Thomas and the students have been meeting outside of classes each Sunday afternoon since November to prepare for the Case Challenge. They have honed their skills by tackling a new business case each week.
“I am most comfortable with accounting, so this experience is stretching me to consider cases from more than just the black and white numbers perspective,” said Woods, a first-year student.
Case examples have included how to shift a skateboard company from being a passion project into a viable career, advising a micro-brewery on whether to expand beer varieties or expand into new markets, and how a Quebec-based arts and culture magazine can best break into the Toronto market.
The greatest challenge cited by all three team members has been finding time to practice in between full-time studies and work commitments. If they win there is no cash prize, just a trophy and bragging rights, yet Dyck, a second-year student, believes the process has had its own rewards.
“While the program includes a little of this type of work, our prep has been much more intense. The biggest improvement is that our ability to analyze and talk things through clearly and rapidly has gotten a lot better in the past three months,” said Dyck.
“Regardless of where we place, this extra effort only helps to improve our skills before we graduate and enter the real world,” said Fries, a second-year student. “But I think we will really surprise people – we’re going to put ourselves, and Yukon College, on the radar.”
The college is sending five students in all to the competition. Besides the competing team of three, first-year student Matt Landry and second-year student Paul Zylstra will also be attending. They have been tasked with networking with other schools to discover how they select and prepare their teams. Landry intends to be on the Yukon College team next year.
“Competing this year is a pilot project, but I would like to find a way to send a team every year,” said Thomas. “We are always looking for ways to raise the bar – and these students have certainly risen to the challenge.”