A team of Carleton University commerce students took home top honours from a business competition held at Queen’s University from Jan. 3 to 5.
Sarah Nichols, a 21-year-old Morgan’s Grant woman, and Maxim Melekhovets, a 21-year-old Shirley’s Brook man, placed first in the management of information systems category of the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition, beating out competition from the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser, Laurier, UBC and Okanagan College.
“This is really exciting to do so well in the first (business competition) we entered into,” said Nichols. “There’s a lot of hype around case competitions at our school.”
The students learn public speaking and analysis skills and work under tremendous pressure, said Nichols and Melekhovets.
The Inter-Collegiate Business Competition poses problems faced by businesses and is judged by managers in various industries.
“I guess it speaks to how well we’re trained here at Carleton,” said Melekhovets, who will graduate this summer with a bachelor of commerce degree, specializing in accounting. “It’s just good to get some representation from Carleton at these competitions where we’re facing competition from international schools.”
Carleton was one of six schools that won a spot at the competition after competing with more than 30 universities in a preliminary round, where teams were asked to write a paper about whether employees should be allowed to bring a personal device, such as a cellphone, into the workplace.
The six finalists were given a different case study and five-and-a-half hours to prepare a 15-minute presentation on a resolution to the problem.
The case study involved a newly-appointed chief information officer of a bank who is asked by the chief executive to use the power of data analytics to help the company better predict customer needs.
“The overriding issue is that within the organization there is no strategic direction for IT (information technology),” said Nichols. “The IT department is told to do projects on a whim and not given budgets.”
The choice was either jumping into analytics to make the CEO happy or coming up with a governance plan first, said the Nichols and Melekhovets.
“It’s difficult for a couple of reasons, said Melekhovets. “You have to deal with that time pressure. You haven’t seen the case beforehand.”
The Carleton duo presented their winning solution to a panel of six judges – all experienced businesspeople who face issues similar to the case study on a regular basis.
“If it doesn’t sound right they’ll be on you right away,” said Melekhovets.
Nichols said Carleton commerce students will compete in at least three more business competitions this year, held in Halifax, Montreal and Spain.
Last week, a team of 50 students from Carleton University headed to Halifax competing in the JDC Central business competition.
As the team’s academic captain, Nichols wasn’t scheduled to compete in the event.
After she graduates this year, Nichols plans to start work in May at Deloitte, a consulting firm that deals with accounting audits, IT consulting and business strategy consulting.
Nichols attended Roland Michener Public School, W. Erskine Johnston Public School and West Carleton Secondary School.
Melekhovets attended Katimavik Elementary School and Earl of March Secondary School.