Home field advantage for the business department
Article: Paige Kreutzwieser – Staff Writer
For the first time in its history, the University of Regina held the most prestigious business competition in western Canada – and they won.
The Paul J Hill School of Business dominated the Jeux de Commerce West Business Competition (JDC West), held Jan. 17 to 19, with one of the best performances by a school.
The top 12 western business schools gather annually to compete against one another and title one group ‘School of the Year’.
“It’s looking for the most holistically strong business school,” explained Mason Gardiner, co-captain of the Hill JDC West team. “It’s not just looking for academic school of the year. It’s a work and life balance. ”
Gardiner admitted that it is a difficult to try and describe the competition to people who have never heard of it, but stated, “You are captivated by it when you experience it.”
Amy Deibert, a fourth consecutive year team member on this year’s Hill JDC West Human Resources team, agreed with the difficulty of explaining the competition.
“A lot of people don’t know what JDC West is, especially when you are trying to explain the sport and social aspect.”
What differentiates JDC West from other case competitions, as Gardiner described, is that it is not just strictly academic based. Alongside ten academic teams, there are debate, sport and social teams incorporated as well.
Though debate and sport are easy to describe, social is usually the most unfamiliar.
“It is a mix of Fear Factor and the Amazing Race,” said Gardiner.
Teams from across the provinces of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba compete for points throughout the weekend. They participate in their associated sub-teams in a variety of areas such as case competitions, a parliamentary style debate, athletic challenges, social challenges and community involvement.
Two of the biggest accomplishments for the 2014 Hill JDC West team were their ‘Academic School of the Year’ and ‘School of the Year’ victories. They also placed within the top five schools in 12 of the 14 other categories.
The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Beyond Profits.’
“This theme encompassed three different pillars of success – ethics, environment and economy,” explained Emily McNair, external co-chair for the JDC West organizing committee. These three pillars were present throughout the weekend in the academic cases, the debate topics and the social competitions.
The social competitions included a bottle collection, which all the money raised went to the Mother Theresa Middle School in Regina.
Although some may think there was a slight advantage to being at home, Gardiner explained that there were certain rules. “You couldn’t contact friends of family, we just had to use business contacts.”
The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) was one organization that the Hill team contacted. Nathan Sgrazzutti, URSU’s president, was able to lend a hand. Around 1:00 A.M. Saturday morning, Sgrazzutti received a phone call from a Hill team member. It led to Sgrazzutti driving to the U of R campus bar, The Owl, to collect bottles and take them directly to the Delta Hotel where the social competition was being held.
“I met a lot of wonderful people from across business schools in western Canada while wearing my P.J. pants,” confessed Sgrazzutti.
“They’ve been really supportive,” said Gardiner of URSU’s contributions.
URSU, along with the Ministry of Central Services and Crown Investment Corporation of Saskatchewan, helped sponsor the Hill team.
“We have received so much positive feedback from students, alumni, participants, sponsors, faculty and community members,” said McNair. “We are confident that we have raised the bar for future competitions.”
With the dominating Hill JDC West team success this year, they also raised the bar against their competitors.
“People who didn’t perform as well from the various schools probably in the back of their minds may be thinking it was unfair that we had at home advantage,” explained Deibert.
However, she knows that her teammates performed well, were prepared, and the home field advantage played just a small role.
“I would say based on how much we dominated, there was a huge percentage point from the second place team, maybe a home advantage would play one, two or three percent max in scores.”
Though being at home did have its perks.
“Not having to acclimatize to a different place and presenting in our presentation rooms that we have been in all year [was an advantage],” said Gardiner about the familiar environment. Yet, Gardiner admitted that being at home did have its disadvantages as well.
Competing for sponsorship between the Hill JDC West team and organizing committee made for extra work. As well, since the organizing committee is made up of both current and alumni students Gardiner said there were hurdles to overcome in forming the team.
“It took a lot from our talent pool of people who could try out for our team.”
For someone like Kirk Morrison, who is in his final semester as a Management major at the Hill School of Business as well as on the 2014 organizing committee, keeping separation between the committee and the competing team was a task in and of itself.
“It was definitely an interesting experience being at the U of R, because we are a smaller school. Seeing most of the people who were on the team in my classes on a day-to-day basis, just because the school is so small, it was a little bit difficult with that.”
But overall, the benefits of having JDC West in their hometown outweighed any disadvantage.
“Having it in Regina, we were able to expose it to students who are maybe looking to be on the team next year,” explained Morrison. “I think that is going to be good for the school in the couple years to come.”
Deibert agreed. “By it being at home there was a lot of local industry experts and business leaders that were able to see first hand what the competition was about and how excellent these students are.”
For the city of Regina, McNair only sees positives. “It was a great opportunity to bring 630 of the best Western Canadian business students and our competition partners from across the country to our city and campus. I think everyone left with a new perception of what Regina has to offer.”
Sgrazzutti had compliments for both the JDC West Hill team and the organizing committee on the huge success.
“This year’s team has really done an amazing feat for really showcasing the University of Regina, and I think it is really important for people to notice that. People need to understand that these students really want to showcase their school and are really proud of what they are doing.”
Although the competition is over, students and alumni on both the Hill JDC West team and the organizing committee still have work to do to wrap up the ninth annual competition.
Next year’s meeting will be in Victoria, BC, so passing the torch over to their organizing committee is underway. Selecting the team members is also commencing as deadlines to apply for the 2015 Hill team are in February.
Going into next year much of the current team has the same hopes for the future Hill JDC West team.
“I hope we don’t become complacent based off the win, because it took a lot of work,” explained Deibert. “I just hope that the team runs off this high but uses it as motivation to continue trying to develop.”
After being the only person in JDC West history to hold a consecutive co-captain position, Gardiner has a similar request, hoping the team will maintain “the success we had… [and] see them sustain that and the reputation we have, and continue with the momentum.”