Two Okanagan College Bachelor of Business Administration accounting students can boast of being the best in the country after claiming top spot at a prestigious international business competition.
Jessica Lenz and Daniel Yarmak, respectively third- and fourth-year business students, competed in the accounting category at Queen’s University Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) held last weekend .
The pair successfully reached the finals by beating out 31 other teams. In the final round they outshone competitors from Simon Fraser University, McGill University, the University of Toronto, Lakehead University and the University of Regina to take first place.
“We are extremely proud of our five student teams who competed in the finals at this year’s I.C.B.C. events, and especially of Jessica and Daniel’s accomplishment,” said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “I have attended this event in the past and witnessed the impressive calibre of the competitors. Having so many teams progressing to the finals and one team achieving first place demonstrates that our students, professors, and educational programs can compete with the best educational institutions in Canada and beyond.”
“It is rewarding to have received top honours after so many months of hard work,” added Yarmak. Both he and Lenz maintained a full course workload during the preparation.
“We couldn’t have done it without the help of our coaches and professors. I was especially grateful to have taken the Applied Corporate Finance course at the College: it included learning about valuation, which ended up being the focus of our simulation case. Gaining a cross-discipline education these past four years with Okanagan College made this win possible.”
The annual I.C.B.C. is recognized as Canada’s longest-running undergraduate case competition with eight events spanning accounting, business policy, ethics, debating, finance, human resources, marketing and management of information systems disciplines. Students are given five and a half hours to review the complex business-problem case within their designated field and prepare a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel comprised of esteemed Queen’s professors and industry professionals.
More than 140 teams competed in the preliminary round, with only 48 teams advancing to the finals. Okanagan College sent the second largest number of students to the event, 10 students—two shy of the leading representation by the University of Calgary.
Following success at the initial preliminary round the students worked with college professors Randy Newton and Margery Heuser as coaches to best prepare for the competition. As part of what turned out to be a winning strategy, the coaches engaged the broader Okanagan College community, inviting alumni who had competed previously to provide practice-round judging simulations.
“The experience only helps me feel even more prepared for the start of my career,” said Lenz, who hopes to continue on to earn a CPA designation. “From the practices to the actual case, it was very similar to how you would present to a potential client. In practice, one of the alumni told us to remember our audience and that while we are presenting on accounting, it’s not just about numbers. That really helped and we were able to present a qualitative analysis that resonated strongly with the judges.”
“Our excellent team of professors have shown the depth of their commitment to furthering our students’ education,” noted Heather Banham, Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business, who is also the vice-chair of the CGA B.C. Board. “Both Randy and Margery generously gave their time on weekends and over the holidays to support these students, imparting knowledge, giving feedback, and providing positive reinforcement to set them up for success.”