University of Guelph-Humber tops Royal Roads case competition

March 23, 2011
Amy Dove

There was only one official winner at the 9th annual Royal Roads University International Undergraduate Case Competition but the benefits of the experience were not lost on any of the participants.

Held March 17 to 19, 16 teams from across North America were on campus to showcase their business skills. The round-robin tournament allowed students three hours to analyze a business case before they had to present real-world solutions to enhance the business model. More than 50 judges, all successful business people from the local community, sat in on the pitches to critique and offer feedback.

After a grueling three days of competition, the team from the University of Guelph-Humber came out on top. Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Prince Edward Island were finalists. Royal Roads secured a 10th place finish.

For Royal Roads student Devin Rose the competition was a chance to improve his public speaking and fine tune his presentation skills. It was also an exercise in learning how to work as a team under stress, he said.

"We really became a lot more cohesive. We came a long way in our ability to do teamwork," he said. "On the whole it was awesome; I am really glad I signed up even though it can be really draining and a big time commitment. If I could do it all over again, I would for sure."

For Diana Claxton, also from the Royal Roads team, her biggest lesson was in constructive conflict, she said. Some of her strongest relationships within the Bachelor of Commerce program are with her case competition team and that is because of the trust they built through teamwork, she added.

It was a chance to see how other schools approach the business of teaching business, said Stephanie Chang, from Wilfrid Laurier University. Most of the competitions she attends are regional, so you compete against people who have similar educational experiences, she said, but this competition covered schools from across North America so the approaches to each case were more diverse.

Some competitions give you anywhere from 24 hours to a week to work on your case, Yang said. That affords you time to access research materials, a reality that isn't the case at Royal Roads. With three hours to take an idea to polished presentation, "it's more about what you did to prepare before hand and your character," she said.

"There's no memorizing, it's very much on the fly," added Carolina Dubanik from Simon Fraser University.

Being able to tackle three cases was also an asset, she said. "You aren't at a disadvantage if you get a case you aren't comfortable with," she said, adding it allows teams to really showcase their skill sets with different case material.

"You get such a variety of cases it really tests your team dynamic," added Peter Yang from the University of British Columbia. "It's really amazing to see what other students bring ... you don't get this experience very often."

The case competition is organized by a crew of student volunteers at the host school. Led by Lindsay Temple this year, it was a great opportunity to hone time management, organizational and leadership skills, said the BCom student.

"Like everything at Royal Roads, it's about team building and leadership," she said. "(Organizing the event) is just another way to gain those experiences in a non-academic way. It's (also) a great opportunity to learn from experienced presenters."

Claxton echoes that sentiment, offering the simple advice to any student considering getting involved in future competitions.

"Don't miss out," Claxton said. "My experience at Royal Roads has been so much more rich and enhanced because of case competition."

Participating teams

  • Concordia University - Montreal, Quebec
  • La Salle University - Philadelphia, PA
  • McMaster University - Hamilton, Ont.
  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology - Edmonton, Alta.
  • Okanagan College - Kelowna, B.C.
  • University of Alberta - Edmonton, Alta.
  • University of British Columbia - Vancouver, B.C.
  • University of Florida - Gainesville, Fla.
  • University of Guelph-Humber - Guelph, Ontario
  • University of Prince Edward Island - Charlottetown, P.E.I.
  • University of South Carolina - Columbia, S.C.
  • University of Southern Indiana - Evansville, Ind.
  • Queen's University - Kingston, Ont.
  • Royal Roads University - Victoria, B.C.
  • Simon Fraser University - Vancouver, B.C.
  • Wilfrid Laurier University - Waterloo, Ont.