Lethbridge College wins Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition

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    In a competition designed to put the province’s top young business minds into a pressure-packed, real-world scenario, Lethbridge College students kept their cool and took home first place in the 12th annual Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition.

    Lethbridge College hosted the competition on its campus, in conjunction with the University of Lethbridge, from March 23 to 25. The winning team included Business Administration students Scott Anderson, Andrea Kowalchuk, Sarah Phillips and Taylor Waters, and was coached by School of Business chair Rita Halma and faculty Rod MacGregor and David Orr. The team was awarded $4,000 by the CPA Alberta Education Foundation.

    “We are very proud of the Lethbridge College case competition team who represented themselves, their coaches and our institution remarkably well,” says Dennis Sheppard, interim Vice President Academic at Lethbridge College. “They practiced hard with their coaches leading up to the competition and their efforts paid off both figuratively and literally. They are a group of really bright students with even brighter futures.”

    This is the first time that Lethbridge College has won this competition, following a second-place finish in 2014 and a third-place showing in 2009.

    “Something magical happened in the war room,” says team member Sarah Phillips, a second-year Business Administration student. “The process was grueling, but we felt energized instead of overwhelmed by it. We were supportive and open-minded and rose to the challenge as a team. Even if we hadn’t won, I would still be incredibly proud of my team and our achievement.”

    The competition involved 14 post-secondary institutions from across the province. NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business placed second, winning $2,500, and Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business placed third, winning $1,500.

    Each team was given just nine-and-a-half hours to analyze a real-world business case, brainstorm solutions and create a final presentation with their findings. They then had 12 minutes to make their final presentations to a panel of judges from the local business community. Lethbridge College’s case dealt with converting organic waste from agricultural and food operations into biogas in southern Alberta.

    “Our team’s strong proposal, presentation and responses to judges’ questions were highly convincing,” says Rita Halma, chair of Lethbridge College’s School of Business. “The entire event, with a James Bond theme woven throughout, showcased not just our students, but the entire college community.”

    The event was one of a number of special events held on campus this year to mark the college’s 60th anniversary. Organizers would like to thank all those who helped to make it such a successful event, as well as the teams who travelled to Lethbridge for the weekend, real-world competition.

     NOTE: Second-year Business Administration student Sarah Phillips wrote a first-person account of the experience of being in the “war room” and part of this remarkable Lethbridge College team.

     “From start to finish, this was simultaneously the most rewarding and draining experience I have ever had. I am still in awe of how much we have grown as a team. When we first met, we were all undoubtedly very nervous about the weeks ahead. We are all “Alphas” in our respective circles, all very stubborn and confident in our abilities; we knew that as a team, we would either succeed or fail spectacularly. But as the days passed, we got to know and trust each other.

     Our advisors were crucial in this process. We truly could not have done this without their dedication, support, and attention to detail. They each brought different skills and experience to the table and complimented each other perfectly.

     The case that was analyzed by fourteen college teams from across Alberta was in regards to the establishment of a bio-gas facility outside of Picture Butte. This facility has the potential to create sustainable energy and profit out of excess organic waste, a growing problem for many feedlot owners in the Picture Butte area. 

     Something magical happened in the war room. The process was grueling, but we felt energized instead of overwhelmed by it. We rose to the challenge as a team. We were supportive and open-minded, but not afraid to speak freely. We instinctively knew that we were all working towards the same goal.

     It was important that our recommendation was consistent with the values of these business-minded, entrepreneurial feedlot owners. Once we had dissected the case, we began to grow excited about the lucrative potential this facility could offer. I believe our enthusiasm and confidence in our analysis and recommendation is ultimately what gave us our winning edge and enabled us to deliver a presentation we were truly proud of.

     The event itself was gorgeous and classy, executed perfectly down to the last detail. I am so proud to represent Lethbridge College.

     Winning this event is fantastic. Add to this that we were Lethbridge College’s first-ever winning team, and that we could accomplish this at home surrounded by our friends and instructors, is indescribable. But even if we hadn’t won, I would still be incredibly proud of my team and our achievement.”

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