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Business students prepare to head east for prominent case competition
Okanagan College Media Release

Jessica Lenz Nov 2015Jessica Lenz is hopeful that she can once again help her team bring home a gold medal from the prestigious Queen’s University Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) when she heads to Kingston, Ont., in January with seven fellow Okanagan College School of Business students.

Lenz, a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration Honours student, and her teammate Karen Vandergaag, have earned a finalist spot in the finance division of the longest-running Canadian undergraduate case competition. Okanagan College teams also qualified in the debate, management of information systems, and marketing disciplines. Last year, Lenz’s accounting team earned the top spot.

“Whether it’s your first time, or second or third, ultimately, you are representing your school,” said Lenz. “Making it twice to the competition I think is proof of the quality of education I’ve received at Okanagan College. It distinctly shows that I didn’t just memorize and pass exams; it’s a demonstration of how the knowledge we gain is applicable to the real world.”

Having the previous year’s experience is a competitive advantage in knowing what to expect in terms of time management pressures, judging format, and the types of questions that could be asked.

At the finals, students will be given five hours to review the complex business case within their designated field and prepare a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel, which is comprised of Queen’s professors and senior management professionals from Canada’s largest corporations. No electronic resources are allowed, however, teams can use all the textbooks they had the foresight to bring with them.

“My suitcase is going to be 90 per cent textbooks, it gets a bit heavy,” Lenz remarks.

“It will be different than last year; while accounting and finance are both numbers based, finance is a bit more of a grey area, relying on making a judgment call,” she said. “You have to make the decision and then be accountable in proving why that is the right financial decision to make.”

That’s where the training received from coach and Professor Derek Cook comes into play. In their Applied Corporate Finance class the students studied real life case examples to learn about capital decisions (to buy or not to buy), financing by debt or share issue, and mergers and acquisitions.

While the technical knowledge is important, Lenz is quick to point out that in her opinion the three most critical skills to success at the I.C.B.C. are: written and verbal communication to effectively present and get your point across to the judging panel, analysis to demonstrate understanding of what the numbers mean, and a big-picture outlook as to the impact the decision will have looking at the years ahead for the company and the effect on other corporate departments.

“I congratulate all the students who displayed tremendous effort during the preliminary round,” said Dr. Barry McGillivray, Associate Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “The competition at every stage is a wonderful learning experience for them to test their competency at a very sophisticated level. Our students have shown outstanding quality of knowledge, and we are very proud.”

In total 15 Okanagan College students competed in the preliminary round with seven teams submitting case analyses in a pool that included more than 100 teams from post-secondary institutions across Canada and the world. Okanagan College student teams competing in the I.C.B.C. finals on Jan. 14-16 at Queen’s University are:
  • · Finance: Jessica Lenz and Karen Vandergaag (professor coach Derek Cook)
  • · Marketing: Megan Whittingham and Nicole Arbuthnot (professor coach Alan Rice)
  • · Management of Information Systems: Ariel Richards and Jesse Tate (professor coach Glen Coulthard)
  • · Debate: Two additional students (professor coach David Cram)

For more information about the competition, visit