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By Barbara Black
Competitions are so important to their future that business students take courses in how to win them.
Part-time lecturer Mark Haber has been giving two undergraduate courses in the JMSB specifically geared to competitions for over 10 years. One course prepares students for the Commerce Games, and the other for the ICBC (Inter-Collegiate Business Competition) run by Queen’s University.
The courses ensure that 17 teams are well prepared when they go out to meet their adversaries in these competitions, and they proudly take the name of their school with them.
“They know we’re coming,” Haber said with grim satisfaction.
This year, the undergrads outdid themselves, winning all four major competitions in Quebec, a first for any business school in the province. They took overall gold at the Commerce Games and the Omnium Financier, both held at HEC in January, at the Happening Marketing competition held here at Concordia in March, and at the HR Symposium held last month at Laval.
Competitions test a wide variety of skills, all of them useful in a business career. For example, the Commerce Games include 10 academic business cases, three sports events, a debate, a stock simulation and a social event.
In 2007, for the first time, a team from the JMSB was invited to attend the Citi International Case Competition in Hong Kong. This was a pet project of Haber, and he was thrilled. “We’ve been trying for years to get into this case comp, and finally we made it!”
Held in October, the competition is organized by the U.S. bank CitiGroup and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s School of Business and Management. The theme this year was reducing the impact of climate change in business, and a Thai university was the winner.
Closer to home, there are more than 40 competitions to test students’ skills. JMSB undergraduate students came second at the Trois-Rivières Stock Simulation in November. The team, comprising Amr Ezzat, Andrew Hum, Matthew Parker Jones and Karan Shanmugarajah, knew it was their last chance to show their stuff before competing in the 20th annual Commerce Games / Jeux du Commerce at UQTR in January.
Thirty-seven teams from seven Quebec universities competed. Teams were given a fictitious sum of $200,000 to invest in companies over the course of a year, which was condensed into one hour for the purpose of the competition. The goal was to obtain the highest return on investment.
Karan Shanmugarajah was awarded the third place prize for his individual performance, a significant achievement considering that over 170 students participated.
Also in November, JMSB undergraduate students won three medals at the 2007 Ottawa Accounting Competition. Universities from across Quebec and Ontario competed in the fourth edition of this competition, hosted by the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.
Teams of three undergraduates from eight universities competed in managerial accounting, financial accounting and tax. The JMSB teams earned gold in managerial accounting, and bronze in financial accounting and tax.
There was an individual aspect to this contest. The JMSB’s Joshua Rotstein was the winner of the Golden Calculator Award for achieving the highest score on a 25-question examination completed before the case preparation.
Haber says the secret of the students’ success is good preparation and a coaching ethic that expects high standards of participation and effort. As head coach, he is grateful for the support of his academic executive and many of his fellow faculty members, who pitch in as volunteer coaches for specific events.
“The bar has been raised incredibly over the past decade,” he said. “We’re much more competitive, and we really create a presence for the JMSB and Concordia wherever we go.”