The Newfoundland and Labrador team, Blended Solutions from College of the North Atlantic (CNA), surpassed the goal they had set for themselves as they walked into the Business Case Competition at College of the North Atlantic-Qatar last weekend. While their hope was to make the finals, they never expected to walk away with the top honours against nine international teams.
Blended Solutions is made up of students from Ridge Road and Prince Philip Drive campuses, including Comprehensive Arts and Science student Tyler Power of Tors Cove, third-year Business Management (Human Resources) student Melanie Pumphrey of St. John’s, second-year Business Management (Marketing) student Peter Smith of St. John’s, and third-year Industrial Engineering student Tiffany Swain of Calvert on the Southern Shore.
The team, which is coached by instructors Andrew Goldsworthy and Stephen Parsons, placed second in CNA’s Case competition in Grand Falls-Windsor in November 2016. The first place team, Panoramic Consulting, was also scheduled to head to Qatar but due to unforeseen circumstances they were unable to travel.
Blended Solutions went head-to-head with some tough competition Feb. 17-18 and Parsons says they handled themselves wonderfully.
“It was an emotional up and down. For the first Case, they knocked it out of the park. It was fantastic and you couldn’t have asked for anything different,” Parsons said. “The second Case was a little outside of their wheelhouse and they knew it. I was looking at them before they went to present and they thought they did horrible, so I was worried for them then.”
However, their resilience paid off and during the first and second rounds they received second place, which in turn secured them a spot to compete in the finals the next day.
“I thought possibly there was another team in the finals that might beat them, and (Blended Solutions) thought they didn’t win. They did well and were happy with how they did, but they weren’t thinking they won. They didn’t create that expectation for themselves and that’s pretty important,” Parsons said.
Even the members of Blended Solutions are freely admit they never thought they’d take home an international title.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Swain said. “We went over (to Qatar) and didn’t know what to expect, but we didn’t expect to place. We thought it would be cool just to make the finals. When they announced we had won, we were in shock because we had watched some of the other presentations, and we had thought a couple of the other teams had taken it. We had felt a bit defeated at that point. I remember my jaw hit the table when they announced our name. We just sat there and were pretty much in a bit of awe because we didn’t really believe that we had actually won.”
Pumphrey can also attest to that feeling.
“Winning first place has been amazing. We ended up watching the different competitors and it was such a tough competition. When they announced that we had won, I just didn’t believe it. I was in total shock,” Pumphrey said.
“It has definitely enriched my professional view, just being able to network and having a voice out there is truly honouring. It is really hard to put into words what this experience has taught me. It was truly incredible and it has been an amazing opportunity. I got to meet new people, experience their culture, and network. It has made me a more well–rounded person.”
Parsons says walking away with that first place win is a testament to the team’s dedication. They practiced twice a week, completed 20 Case scenarios, and studied international economies and how to deploy strategies within each country.
“For how they won, it was fantastic,” Parsons said. “They worked very, very hard throughout the entire process so they certainly deserved it, and part of the reason they did so well was because they practiced things so much. I’m really proud of them. They are bright people but they are very hard working, very resilient, and they take feedback really well. I couldn’t be prouder of everything they have accomplished.”
Sharon Collins, CNA’s Interim Dean of Business and Information Technology, says all participants should be commended for their efforts.
“The Business Case Competition is an opportunity for personal and academic growth for our students. Their investment of time and commitment to teamwork is commendable,” Collins said. “The coaching they receive from faculty is crucial in preparing them to work well under pressure and within a strict timeframe. Presenting their recommendations and defending their decisions in front of a panel of industry judges provides real business interaction for these students. Congratulations to each participant and this year’s winning team.”
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic