GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL
– A Grand Falls-Windsor Business Case team has done it again.
The quartet of College of the North Atlantic (CNA) students joined a dozen teams at the college’s Grand Falls-Windsor campus last weekend to compete in the 12th annual Business Case competition, where for the second year in a row, the title was taken by a home team - On Trac Solutions.
Among the competitors were: five teams from the St. John’s Prince Philip Drive campus; three teams from Grand Falls-Windsor; Clarenville and Corner Brook had one team apiece; Distributed Learning (DL) students met for the first time; and, one team that travelled from overseas to represent CNA’s campus in Doha, Qatar.
Stephen Warren, CNA’s Dean of Business and Information Technology, says the competition was a tremendous success, and describes the level of practical and theoretical skills demonstrated to solve complex business problems as world class.
“The students competing in the Business Case Competition spend hundreds of hours practicing with their coaches outside of regular class time,” Warren said. “They made the decision to prepare and travel to Grand Falls-Windsor this past weekend to study and present their ideas on how to solve the complex business problems presented in the cases. Every single student should be commended for taking on this challenge, and I have no doubt that they all travelled back home with a great sense of accomplishment and pride.”
During the two-day event, teams were given a business case describing a company facing a specific problem. The teams were sequestered and given two-and-a-half hours to analyze the problem, recommend a solution, and develop an implementation plan to pitch to a panel of judges in the round-robin competition.
With four divisions in the competition, and three rounds of case scenarios in front of 12 industry judges, winners from each division were chosen for the final round of head-to-head competition.
“The Business Case Competition is an event that you have to witness in order to truly understand the significant challenges the participants have to navigate through,” Warren said.
“The judges do not hold back during question and answer period, and these students have to be fierce and confident when presenting their solutions. Finding that courage in yourself to step up and take on a difficult question from a judge is a learning moment that is hard to duplicate. All of these participants left Grand Falls-Windsor with a higher sense of confidence in themselves and their ability to perform under stress.”
Fred Penney Jr. is vice-president of Penney Paving in Grand Falls-Windsor and a long-time judge for CNA’s Business Case competition. He feels those who choose to take part in the competition prove themselves to be future leaders.
“As a judge we see the teams getting better, in round one, round two and round three. It’s really rewarding for us to see the students’ progress. We know it’s difficult; we know it’s a challenge. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be near as interesting,” Penney said.
When asked for the best business advice he can impart on the students, Penney references Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon, who is noted as saying that if his company isn’t afraid of failing, they aren’t being innovative enough, and if they aren’t failing, they aren’t trying to do new things.
“I told the students on Friday at the luncheon that they have separated themselves from the others by not being afraid to fail. The fact they participated in the Business Case competition tells me they are not afraid to fail,” Penney said. “What is truly amazing is that some of the competitors are first-year students who are just part way through their first business courses. The fact they were coming into this competition with little experience and without a lot of business education, well, I don’t know how they do it.”
In the end, it was On Trac Solutions of Grand Falls-Windsor that proved themselves to be up to the challenge and they walked away with the trophy from the competition, earning the campus back-to-back wins. The team is made up of DL student Tanya Fizzard of Bishop’s Falls, Aaron Tulk of Gander, Codylynn Smith of Grand Falls-Windsor, and Crystal Ford of Deer Lake.
But winning definitely wasn’t a sure thing for the team, which came in last in their division in first round of competition.
“Honestly, it feels surreal. I don’t think any of us expected, going into this, to be the champions, but we are and it feels great,” said Smith. “In our first case, we actually became last in our division so that kind of discouraged us a little bit. We had to look at what we were doing and correct it so that was probably the biggest challenge, bringing ourselves back up and regaining our self-confidence after that loss. Dynamically as a team, we work really well... we are really good with supporting each other and keep (each other) focused on our goal.”
Prince Philip Drive team PRKS Solution won second, while Forte of Grand Falls-Windsor took third. Rounding out the awards ceremony was the recipient of the Bob Hearn Memorial award, named after a former CNA instructor. It was presented to Avalon Consulting of Prince Philip Drive campus for showing the most perseverance and determination.
The presentations of the four finalists, as well as the awards banquet, were live streamed through the college’s Facebook page at www.cna.nl.ca/facebook
. For more information about the School of Business and Information Technology programs available at CNA, visit www.cna.nl.ca
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic