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It was a golden weekend for a trio of Okanagan College business students.
Kevin Heller, Nora Glanzner, and Spencer McIntosh, all third-year students at the Kelowna campus, took top spot on the podium at the Scotiabank Canadian Case Challenge at Vanier College in Montreal.
The annual competition saw 27 of the country’s top business schools represented this year.
The high-pressure competition challenges students to apply their business strategy, marketing and management savvy to a live business case in three hours while in total lockdown without access to the internet.
They then have just 20 minutes to present their findings to a panel of five professional judges from the Montreal business and academic community.
On Saturday, the team from Okanagan College placed in the top two teams in their division earning them a berth to Sunday finals where they would receive an all-new case and the chance to compete against five other teams for top spot overall. As they prepared for the final day, they drew on months of practice and advice from their coaches and fellow students.
“We started practicing as a team in late November and did six or seven full 3-hour lockdown simulations between December and February,” explains Glanzner, who hails from Germany and is currently completing a dual-degree from OC and FH Worms. “Leading up to the event, we practiced at least seven hours a week, right up until we stepped on the plane to Montreal.”
“Our case involved providing recommendations to a financial services firm that was struggling to attract a younger demographic,” explains McIntosh. “It was interesting to get to put ourselves in the shoes of a professional consulting firm, and think about how best to approach providing really detailed, well thought out business advice to a challenge like this.”
At the end of the day on Sunday, the team from OC was elated to hear their names called as the gold medal winners.
“It was the best feeling,” says Heller. “It was very suspenseful. My heart was racing. When we heard our names read out, it was instant relief. And there may have been some screaming and phones being thrown in the air. We worked incredibly hard to get there, and, in the end, it was an immensely valuable experience.”
“It’s hard to put into words what a challenging and invaluable experience a competition like this is for these students,” says Blair Baldwin, who coached the team along with fellow Okanagan College School of Business professors Mark Ziebarth and Caroline Gilchrist. “The way they came together as a team, supported each other and performed at a high level, will, I’m sure, be something they can take great confidence from in their studies and careers after graduation. Employers take note, these are the future business leaders you want working with you.”
This year marks the eighth time students from Okanagan College’s School of Business have competed in the competition. The golden result also means that OC students have now covered off every spot on the podium in recent years.
Last year, students Nico Dirksen, Nathan Ziebart and Cooper Simson, coached by Baldwin and Mark Ziebarth brought home bronze.
Jacob Kuypers, Talasa Larder and Lathan McKinney formed the College’s silver-medal winning team in 2017, coached by Baldwin and Stacey Fenwick.
This year’s winning team had the chance to learn from those who blazed the trail as a number of past competitors
“There is not a chance we could have done this without the support and advice of our coaches and the alumni teams who supported us. They were so generous with their time and gave us some insights into what it would be like in the competition. That really put us at ease when we got there and the pressure started to rise,” notes McIntosh.
“Results like these are months, if not years, in the making, as students in our programs build their knowledge, hone their skills, and develop their confidence as business professionals,” notes Bill Gillett, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “Congratulations to the students and faculty on this tremendous result and all the hard work they put in to make it happen. We’re proud of them for representing the Okanagan School of Business so well on the national stage.”