Kwantlen duo reaches finals at national business competition

January 17, 2011 by  

Joe Zhao, left, coach Kamal Masri, centre, and Steven Vu represented Kwantlen in the final round at the 33rd annual Inter-Collegiate Business Competition at Queen's University in Kingston in early January. (Photo provided by Kamal Masri)

Competing for the first time ever, the Kwantlen School of Business made it to the finals of the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition at Queen’s University in Kingston in early January.

Students Steven Vu and Joe Zhao went head-to-head against teams from five other universities in the competition’s Caro Systems management of information systems category.

“We didn’t manage to place, but at least we made it into the finals,” Vu said. “A lot of universities compete in this, including universities from overseas, such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Some universities actually dedicate courses to competitions like this. So teams going in are usually very, very well prepared.”

Started in 1978, the event is Canada’s largest undergraduate business case competition. To reach the finals, students are given one month to analyze a business case and submit their recommendations.

The competition received 170 submissions from 41 universities in eight different categories: accounting, business policy, ethics, debating, finance, human resources, marketing and management of information systems. The top six teams in each category competed in the final round.

“The final round was pretty challenging. On the day of the competition, you have five and a half hours to read a case, analyze it and prepare a 15-minute presentation with your recommendations to a panel of judges, who are industry specialists,” said Vu, who is finishing his business management diploma.

While they didn’t place, Zhao, who is studying entrepreneurial leadership, believes he knows what they need to do to improve.

“Our recommendation was good, but the other groups had really good presenters. They had really good delivery. That was our weakness,” he said.

He also believes a key to success lies in the support of fellow students.

“There was only the three of us, me, Steven and the coach [Kamal Masri],” the 24-year-old said. “But other schools had multiple teams … and they supported each other. It made me feel like Kwantlen needs to put more resources and get more students to participate in this kind of competition.”

Vu agreed with his partner, adding that many other Kwantlen students he talked to didn’t know that opportunities such as this existed.

“The challenge is for Kwantlen to make it more well-known. Because it’s a really good experience,” the 20-year-old said.

Win or lose, Vu found the experience invaluable.

“It validates my education. It’s one thing to have a degree. But to be able to show people that … [Joe] and I were one of the six [teams] that were selected for the final round, really helps validate that I actually learned something,” he said.

“I got to apply a lot of the stuff I learned and got feedback from people who have been in the industry for more than 10 years, on what was good, what was bad and what they would do differently.”

Similarly, for Zhao the competition was all about the challenge and the experience.

“My favourite part was the final round, because, it was very competitive and very intense,” he said. “So you have to push yourself to your upper limits. There you saw the top talent from different universities. You got the chance to talk to them and learn about their experiences and their studies. That’s something that you can’t get from school.”

Brock University took top prize in the management of information systems category, with Queen’s University second and UBC third.


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