Business students compete to solve real world challenges in case competition

by | Mar 6, 2023 | News

Over reading week, NAIT hosted the inaugural JR Shaw School of Business Winter City Case Competition. Teams from NAIT, SAIT, the University of Alberta, Mount Royal University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University competed against each other in a series of live cases to solve real-world problems faced by businesses.

On Tuesday, teams met at Fort Edmonton Park and were led on tours of the four eras represented in the park and the Indigenous Peoples Experience. Part of the recent $165 million capital enhancement project, the Indigenous Peoples Experience allows visitors to reflect on the history and culture of the First Nations and Métis people. Following the tours, a 90-minute mini-case competition was held at the Clerks’ Quarters in the fort with industry guests.

The main competition began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and was focused on Fort Edmonton Park. Teams had 12 hours to read the case, develop solutions to the problems identified, and prepare presentation slides. On Thursday morning, teams presented to a panel of judges comprised of industry guests and directors from Fort Edmonton Management Company, including President and CEO Darren Dalgleish. The competition results were announced following a gala dinner at the Productivity and Innovation Centre. Overall NAIT finished third, with one of the University of Alberta teams placing second, and first place being awarded to Mount Royal University.

Dennis Sheppard, Dean of the JR Shaw School of Business, talked about what he hopes students might gain from the competition. “For me, it’s really all about the learning that happens. They are bringing all their skills into a single initiative,” said Sheppard. “They are taking their learning from different courses, they are learning to work with one another, and they are learning to understand their audience and their client.” Following the competition, Sheppard enjoyed speaking with all the attending teams. “You learn about the people that are here. You learn about why they’re here and why they participate. Pretty quickly, you learn that it’s about the ones who are willing to go the extra mile,” said Sheppard. “I love these conversations and hearing about their motivations after the pitches when the pressure is off.”

Keven McGhan, Management Instructor & Faculty Advisor to the Case Competition Club of NAIT, spoke further on the motivations for hosting the case competition. “It’s a real-world experience. We are hoping that students understand that when they are heading into the job market that they have to differentiate themselves,” said McGhan. “Companies are starting to look beyond [if you have an undergraduate degree in business]. What did you do beyond that? Did you participate in clubs, and was that experience relevant? These are real-world challenges in real organizations, and it is something that students can put on their resume.”

Alexandra Armstrong, the Event Coordinator for the JR Shaw School of Business, commented on the challenges that NAIT faced in organizing the event. “Funding is always the biggest challenge. We are very grateful to the CPA Education Fund for making these types of events possible,” said Armstrong. She hopes that this competition can grow to include more schools in future years. “Any other post-secondary that wants to compete should be allowed to come,” said Armstrong. “We want to give students something interesting and a compelling reason to come to Edmonton in February.” Post-event surveying was very favourable, with most respondents indicating that they thoroughly enjoyed the events despite the week’s cold temperatures.

Cover photo by Brian Janssens

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