Students make a case for business success

A plan was recently developed at the Qatar office for a student exchange program.

11/20/2008 2:00:22 PM

[TOP] The Grand Falls-Windsor team won the top score in the 3rd Annual Business Case Competition. Standing, Coach Susanne Ivey; sitting from left, Sarah Kelly, Amy Ballard, Linda Davis and Eun-Jae Yu. [BOTTOM] Bay St. George Team II took home the Bronze at the 3rd Annual Business Case Competition in Grand Falls-Windsor. From left, Kenneth Rideout (coach), Kyla Watchel, Vanessa Doull, Jackie Roberts and Tracy Marche.

For the first time in the three-year history of CNA’s Business Case Competitions, a distance education team took part in the event. The Virtual Campus team was, from left, Lyndsay Power from St. John’s, Adam Maracle on video conference from Labrador City, and Andrew Hibbitts from Stephenville. The team, coached by instructor Holly Morris, took Silver.

Eight teams participated in the 3rd Annual Business Case Competition, held at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Grand Falls-Windsor campus on November 14 and 15.

This year, competing teams were from Prince Philip Drive (St. John’s), Clarenville, Burin, Grand Falls-Windsor, Bay St. George, and for the first time, a Virtual Campus team from Distributed Learning. Grand Falls-Windsor took gold, the Virtual Campus team took silver and Bay St. George took bronze.

The two-day event provides CNA’s learners with the unique opportunity to showcase their technical knowledge and provide analysis of a business problem in a team-based approach.

Teams consist of a maximum of four first-, second- and third-year students. They are provided with a case on Friday evening and have until 8:30 am on Saturday to strategically analyze the case and provide the final report for a panel of judges. At some point during that day, they must also carry out a 10-minute presentation on their fully developed course of action, followed by a five-minute Q&A session. No alterations can be made from their 8:30 submission.

Mary Vaughan, dean of Business and IT, says teams and their coaches (an instructor of Business at each team’s respective campus) have been preparing for this competition for months by forming their team unit, analyzing cases and practicing their presentation skills. She says that no competition documentation was given to any team beforehand; the amount of preparation and professionalism that was reflected at the event was due to the diligence of students and their faculty coach’s approach.

“All students excelled in their presentations and should be commended for their hard work and professionalism. They worked very late into the night and well into the next day. Their strong technical analysis of the case, their professionalism, and the confidence they exuded in their presentations speaks to the high quality of education they are receiving at CNA. The commitment of coaches and dedication at this event is a true testament to their commitment for academic excellence,” says Vaughan. “They and their students are true champions for the School of Business and their campuses!”

Andrew Hibbitts graduated in April 2008 from the Business Administration (Marketing) program at Bay St. George campus. He is currently completing a diploma in the Business Administration (Human Resource Management) program via CNA’s online Distributed Learning Service (DLS). It was his campus team – the Virtual Campus – that won silver. The team was made up of Hibbitts, from Stephenville, Lyndsay Power from St. John’s and Adam Maracle in Labrador City. They met each other for the first time at the event and realized that not only are they utilizing distance technology for their studies, but that they would avail of the technology for the competition.

“Lyndsay and I attended the competition in Grand Falls-Windsor and worked with Adam, who was in Labrador West, through video-conferencing,” says Hibbitts.
“When we entered the presentation room, they had the video-conferencing equipment set up so that Adam could present with us – I must say, I was so impressed! It really felt like Adam was in the room with us.”

The three also utilized technology to work together leading up to the conference.
“As the first team to ever represent distance learning at the case competition, we wanted to make sure that it was done fairly and with quality,” says Hibbits.

“Holly Morris was an amazing coach! She had DLS set us up a ‘blank shell’ on the online system so… we could go in and post discussions and announcements. We also all added each other on MSN and did most of our practices through that. Holly would supply us with sample cases and we would work together to identify key issues and supply our recommendations.”

At the conference, all teams were given the same case with the goal of putting into practice their HR, accounting and marketing skills and knowledge.

“We were presented with a business that was suffering financially. It contained a story and financial records. We had to outline the issues, analyze the financial records, and make recommendations that would lead the business to the best available option for a sustainable future,” Hibbits explains.

He says the conference was a valuable experience in that it allowed students to network with people throughout the college and to apply the education they received at the college to real situations. Speaking to distance learning he added, “This weekend proved a very important point – that distance learning is just as good as on-campus learning. It''''s not for everyone but there are personalities out there such as myself who love the flexibility and convenience. It takes discipline but I love it and would recommend it!” says Hibbits. “I really hope that this opens the doors for future DLS teams to compete. It can be done!”

Susanne Ivey, one of the organizers of the event and coach of the Grand Falls-Windsor winning team is very pleased with how the whole event came together.

“Everyone pitched in and rallied to make the conference happen –Atlantic Catering’s Stella and Carolann provided food, the students, instructors and social committee helped out and it was fabulous!” says Ivey.

“We were also fortunate to have a great panel of judges, business people in the community – Gary Burgess of Tech Cominco; Rosalind Strickland from HRLE; and Danny Reid from CBDC. We were also thrilled to have Minister of Business Paul Oram as our guest speaker.”

Minister Oram applauded the dedication of participants and organizers and stressed the importance of sound business acumen and the significance of this historic time in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.

“We’re now a ‘have-province’– a truly historic achievement! We led the country in GDP growth last year and employment – the highest in 30 years. And the province just saw its first annual population increase in 16 years as a result of net in-migration. Not out-migration, but in-migration!” said the minister.

“It is because of sound financial management that we’re investing in important areas: infrastructure, social programs, knowledge-based industries and new business opportunities. And in areas like education and skills and developing our labour market – these are areas in which the college plays a critical role.”

The Grand Falls-Windsor gold winning team will bring some of this business skill to the Middle East when they compete in the CNA-Qatar Case Competitions in March 2009. It will be the fourth such event for the Middle East campus but its first intercontinental, says CNA-Qatar President Hal Jorch, and the first time for CNA-NL students.

“We’re thrilled to see the expansion of the Case Competition to include a team from CNA-NL, and possibly others from outside of Asia as well,” says Jorch.

“We’ve already expanded to include teams from universities as well as colleges and are very proud of our CNA-Q teams that have not only held their own but finished in the top three each time. The teams from Qatar and other countries have been getting better and more competitive each year, and we look forward to some excellent performances in March.”


Media contact:
Tanya Alexander
Public Information Officer
College of the North Atlantic