Lakeland biz team nets $2,500

By Geoff Lee

March 24, 2016 10:12 AM

A Lakeland College business team won second place at the 2016 Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition at SAIT last weekend. L-r: Michael Wirachowsky, Don Shaw, Erin O'Neill, Tessa Lay and Tony Gray share a $2,500 cash prize.

A team of Lakeland College business students returned from a competition in Calgary with killer resumes in hand for a tough job market.
The five member business case team from the Lloydminster campus finished second in the 2016 Deans of Business Case competition held at SAIT March 17-19.
They will share a $2,500 cash prize and the longer term spoils that go with the accomplishment.
“It will look fantastic on a resume, but the practical experience from all of days of practicing – that will come through,” said Tony Gray, a marketing major in the business diploma program,
“It teaches you knowledge you can apply to most situations whether you are working or applying to an interview.”
Lakeland was of 12 teams in the event that was won by NAIT in a judged format based on the best solution to a business case scenario.
SAIT was third.
There was also a banquet for students to practice their networking skills.
The competitive task this year was for teams to resolve a cash flow problem for a fly fishing company in the B.C. interior.
“The challenge was to put together a solution that would work,” said Brad Onofrychuk, instructor and team facilitator.
“The best solution and the best presentation wins.”
Lakeland’s team included two returning students Erin O’Neill and Don Shaw and three new comers including Gray, Tessa Lay and Michael Wirachowsky.
“Over the whole weekend we spent so much time together,” said Gray.
“We never once got mad at each other – it was all like a laughing journey.
“That’s what made it so good.”
Each team was given 10 hours to evaluate the case and work on their solutions presented before the judges during a 12 minute pitch.
The presentations are judged based on key issues, solutions, defending proposal and overall presentation.
They will never know why NAIT finished first as each team’s results are kept secret, but Gray thought Lakeland had done well enough to win.
“I was a little surprised myself, because I was fairly confident in our presentation, but it was really good to see that the spirit of competition is alive amongst colleges in Alberta,” he said.
“If I go on the team next year, I have a new goal, right?”
Lakeland’s business case team will receive a grading report in the coming weeks, but Onofrychuk is proud of their showing.
“As we were collecting the prize, one of the judges said it was a really tough decision so we were really close,” he said.
“These students can put it on their resumes because they placed.”
He noted employers often ask about scenarios during job interviews.
“They can talk about this: ‘I was faced with a high pressure intense competition — we had a problem to solve and I worked well on a team to solve that problem.’”
Lakeland won the event in 2014, placed third in 2012, second in 2009 and has entered a team in all 11 years the event has been running.
Their team went into the competition knowing what to expect from weekly six hour training sessions run by Onofrychuk each Tuesday since early January.
“Brad was really good in our coaching,” said Gray.
“We would prepare a presentation every week and he would give his thoughts on it if a solution was viable or not — and his presentation tips.”
Gray said it was a fun experience and everyone bonded well.
‘The hardest thing is I am not going to be meeting these guys every Tuesday now, because we became so close.”
Gray said being quick on your feet helps at competition, but he said in order to solve the business case you need to know what the business needs are first.
“I would say the toughest part was just flushing out the idea and making it viable — making it something you could sell,” he said.
Gray said he will put his $500 share of the money toward more schooling.
“Lakeland has a partnership with Athabasca where you can take additional years to get your degree so I will probably do that,” he said.
Lakeland also offers certificate and diploma courses in business.
Their business case team is sponsored annually by Servus Credit Union and Hawkings Epp Dumont.

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