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Okanagan College scores big at prestigious business competition

Okanagan College Media Release

icbcsmall2Eleven students have put Okanagan College on the national map for excellence following their success at the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC) held at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario last week.

Four of five Okanagan College teams landed in the top three spots in their categories, with the ethics team taking first place. The opportunity to compete in the finals came after the College teams edged out dozens of competitors in the preliminary round. 

Since its inception in 1979, the ICBC has established itself as the top undergraduate business case competition, attracting participation from the most prestigious business schools from Canada’s largest universities.

Dr. Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of Business, said it was an outstanding showing for local students who were up against universities like UBC (Sauder), University of Toronto, York, Dalhousie, Concordia and even Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

“The ethics team proved they truly understood the case before them,” said McGillivray, who coached the ethics team and watched every Okanagan team participate. “The accounting team just nailed it, finance was great, and the debating team – I just never saw anyone happier. The business policy case was, without question, tough, and our team performed exceptionally well.”

Zach Webster and Bianca d’Errico impressed the ethics judges with their analysis of a complex fictitious case involving foreign university exchange students, failing grades, and the potential for both financial and political outfall.

“We did a cost-benefit analysis and took a utilitarian perspective to find a solution that worked best for everyone involved,” said Webster. “I thought we did well, but I was over the moon when I heard the result.”

Steve Bernardo sat on the judging panel for the ethics competition. He’s a senior partner with Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark, Canada’s oldest management labour and employment law firm and was named in a U.S. publication entitled “Canada’s Best Lawyers.”

“All the judges felt that the Okanagan Ethics team excelled in its presentation,” said Bernardo, who has been judging ICBC events for the last nine years. 

The other winning Okanagan College teams were:

Accounting - Josh Widmann and Mike Naito – 2nd place
Debating - Vanessa Wittel and Emily Johnson – 3rd place
Finance - Jessica Wilson and Steven DeBoer – 3rd place
Business Policy - Becky Olson, Mike Marino and Leanne Manke – 4th place

“This is a tremendous achievement for our College. We were the only college in the country to move forward to the finals, and these results demonstrate that our business students stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the country,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

The final competition draws judges from some of North America’s top corporations, making the ICBC a significant player in recruiting the next generation of business leaders.

“Traditionally ICBC participants, especially those placing in the top three, are highly recruited by the most significant employers in Canada, and a reference to ICBC participation in a resume is instantly and almost universally recognized as a ‘badge of excellence’ by employers across Canada,” Bernardo said. “Many former ICBC participants occupy significant positions in corporate Canada and the professions.”

McGillivray has already seen signs of interest saying two companies – Target and TransCanada – approached him at the competition about recruiting at Okanagan College, while others asked if they could contact some students directly.

“This performance opens up a whole new avenue of employment for these students, should they wish to take it,” McGillivray said.

This is only the fourth year the College has participated in the 34-year-old student-run competition. Up until now, the College’s best performance was a single second place finish.

This year’s ICBC competition preliminary round attracted 175 teams from 38 post-secondary institutions from across Canada and internationally. The top six teams from each category advanced to the finals at Queen’s.

Enrolment in the Okanagan School Business has seen notable growth in the last few years, with 1,863 students in 2010-11.