Team from CNA-Q visits for Business Case Competition

5/7/2014 10:56:35 AM

The group had a chance to see some of the east coast, with a drive from St. John's to GFW. Here, they enjoy the vistas of the Clarenville lookout.

By Tanya Alexander

CNA-Q Business students Hebah Yusuff and Sarah Abu Sadaa were wishing for snow for their visit to Newfoundland in January but luckily just missed the -30 degree weather and some 30 centimetres that was dumped on St. John’s just days before. That might have been too much of a good thing. Instead, they had a chance to tour the city in 4 degree temperatures and experience some chilling wind on Signal Hill – quite enough of a winter experience for someone from the Middle East.

“The weather was nothing that I have experienced before,” said Sarah. “Besides the fact that it felt as though my whole body was numb, it was very exciting!”

Sarah and Hebah were accompanied by coach Ted Stephenson when they flew from Doha, Qatar to St. John’s January 13 for an introduction to Newfoundland culture before heading inland for the annual Business Case competition  in Grand Falls-Windsor January 16-19. It is the first time since the inception of the competition at CNA in 2006 that a team from CNA-Q has taken part in the event. It was also the first trip to Canada for the young women and (Ontario-born) Ted’s first to the island.

“I will never forget the faces of Hebah and Sarah on that first day in St. John’s,” says Ted.

“We got to Quidi Vidi just at the time when the sun was setting and it was reflecting off the rocks in a way that was spectacular. There was no wind, it was relatively warm and it was totally quiet as it was a week day afternoon in January.  You just have to look at the smiles on Hebah and Sarah’s faces that afternoon and you realize that 60 hours of travel on six different planes to visit two cities for just six nights is worth all the effort.  My wish then and there, and still is, that more students get a chance to do what we did.”

The group took in the Fluvarium, Signal Hill, The Rooms, PPD campus, shops and restaurants downtown and a visit with City of St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe. The Mayor shared facts about St. John’s and the province. He also demonstrated the process of formal council meetings, complete with carrying in the ceremonial mace, a view of the inner chambers and a sit-down in the mayor’s chair!
“Visiting the Mayor was fantastic and it was obvious that he worked many years in the field of education due to the genuine interest he took in hosting Hebah and Sarah,” shared Ted. “Our visit with the Mayor lasted much longer than was scheduled and was certainly one of the highlights of the trip for me.”

The adventure continued with a road trip to Grand Falls-Windsor, where the group was greeted by the event welcome committee and the other seven groups of competitors for a pot luck dinner… and a surprise Screech In!

“We were thrilled on the orientation day when we went to the campus for the first time and everyone welcomed us so nicely!” says Hebah about arriving to their final destination. “I was delighted to see everyone. Not to forget, I got screeched in! That was fun! I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

Hebah and Sarah’s team – Al Maktab Consultants – didn’t place in the competition but impressed the judges, considering that the group was comprised of only two members, one of whom had never competed before, and they had no opportunity to practice before coming to the competition.

“It was Sarah's first time, yet I must say she was excellent.” says Hebah, who is a seasoned competitor, having placed second and then first with her four-person team in the last two competitions at CNA-Q.

“We were just two and I missed having a full team but it was a good learning opportunity which I will never forget throughout my lifetime.  Everything was organized really well and hats off to the staff and all the volunteers who contributed their time and efforts. ”

The Business Case Competition was a very well-run affair, says Ted, and particularly appreciates the amount of volunteerism that goes into these events. 

“At our competitions in Doha, the food is catered,” he said. “In Grand Falls it was all home-made and served by volunteers. The food was amazing!”

Sarah says the trip to Canada was a truly exciting experience. “It was a nice opportunity for us to meet some great people,” she says, “and joining the case competition was a great way for me to improve my public speaking skills as well as my problem solving skills.”
Sarah and Hebah were so excited to come to Canada to see snow and so were disappointed that the weather was warm when they arrived, and that the rain preceding their arrival had washed away much of the snow. However, on the last night of the group’s stay, Grand Falls-Windsor received some 20cm of snow overnight.
“The weather was nothing that I have experienced before!” Sarah exclaimed. “It was the first time that I have ever seen snow and I was so happy! I threw snowballs around and l tried to make a snowman. However, it was not as easy as I thought it would be and my snowman just looked like a pile of snow,” she laughed.
Now that they are back and finishing up the semester (Hebah’s last before graduation in June), she reflects on the experience.
“I loved the culture. The simple things made me smile, like how cars stopped and waited for pedestrians to cross the road,” she says. “I was amazed to see how friendly Newfoundlanders are…down to earth and welcoming.
“I would like to thank CNA-Q, CNA and Mr. Ted to have given us this amazing opportunity I never thought I would ever have.”