Portage College Wins Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition
March 15, 2021

The Portage College Business students went up against 13 Alberta post-secondaries in a competition designed to put the province's top young business minds to the test in real-world scenarios. Portage took first place this weekend in the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition.

“When a team from Portage College wins a provincial academic competition, it says so much about our Business program and the work that all our instructors put in to ensure students are getting a quality education,” said Portage College Faculty of Hospitality and Business Dean, Beverly Lockett. “It is a reminder to all of us that the work we put in to help students succeed pays off. When our Portage team can win a competition of larger institutions who have 6,000 plus business students, it shows that rural education works!”

Red Deer College hosted the competition virtually from March 11-13. The competition is usually a live event where the students, advisors, and the Dean travel to the host institution's facility. Generally, there is an open gala with guest speakers, a meal, and a meet and greet for all participates to attend.

Due to Covid-19, the event was fully virtual. There was an opening zoom meeting on Thursday to introduce the event and the sponsors, as well as competition details. The following morning at 8:30, each student was confined to an individual room and worked together to analyze and develop a solution for the case given, along with building and submitting a PowerPoint presentation all through Zoom. By 8:00 that Friday night, they had to have completed their presentation and submitted it for judging the next morning.

When the competition is in person, the students are in war rooms together to go over the case and have less than 10 hours to complete their case. This year the virtual competition was more rigorous overall, but for this year, the students had less than 12 hours to review the case, then create and record their presentation. After the PowerPoint presentations were submitted, the advisors work with the students to fine-tune their presentations and get them ready for the judges. They present to the judges the next morning and are asked questions. Winners are chosen by the afternoon.

“Despite this year’s competition being held virtually, none of these changes affected the performance of the students. They took their task very seriously, but with the right amount of laughter along the way,” said Allan Robertson, Advisor and Portage College Business Instructor. “They came up with ideas, a strategy, and a presentation that made Brian and I extremely proud of them.”

To prepare for the competitions, the group was formed in December, and would meet each week to review a key business model for case analysis. The advisors also held two simulation case competitions – one in January and one just before the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition.

“Allan and I couldn't have been happier for these students. They worked so hard from day one showing up to every meeting prepared to give it their all. We were both hesitant with our rigorous preparation schedule but believed these students would rise to the opportunity and they did! We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach and support this great team of Portage students who earned this case competition win!” Said Brian Thorne, Advisor, and Portage College Business Instructor.

Students and their advisors for competition
Back row – Allan Robertson, Dylan Craig, Kelly Orr, and Brian Thorne. Front row - Keally McDermott, Andrea Aguilar, and Katie Pankhurst

The 2021 winning team included Business Administration Student Dylan Craig, a 4th year Bachelor of Business Administration NAIT Degree in Management, Keally McDermott, a 4th year Bachelor of Business Administration NAIT Degree in Management, Andrea Aguilar, a 3rd year Bachelor of Business Administration NAIT Degree in Management, Kelly Orr, a 2nd-year Diploma in Management, and Katie Pankhurst, a 1st-year Diploma in Management and their advisors, Portage College Business instructors, Brian Thorne and Allan Robertson.

“I’m still processing what we have accomplished, but I know I only had this amazing opportunity because of Portage College. Even though Portage is a small college, it is a leader in the post-secondary industry. Thank you to Beverly, the Dean, and Allan and Brian, the advisors. It was because of your dedication and faith in us that we achieve what we did today.” Portage College Student, Dylan Craig, enrolled in the collaborative Bachelor of Business Administration Management between NAIT and Portage College.

“Brian and I suspected all along that we had a winning combination, which was confirmed after a few very tense moments listening to the announcement,” said Robertson.

On Saturday afternoon, once all presentations were completed, the Portage College team held their breath waiting for the results. Once it was announced that the Portage College team took home first place, the news was met with shock, a few tears, and shouts of joy. The team was awarded a $4,000 cash prize by the Chartered Professional Accountants Education Foundation.

“I am so proud of our Portage Business students who worked tirelessly with the support of their instructors, to prepare for the case competition. Allan Robertson and Brian Thorne, thank you for giving so much of your precious gift of time to inspire this talented group of students. What an excellent experience that will be remembered lifelong by each of them! We are so grateful for the Deans of Business finding a way to continue supporting this extremely important event especially during a pandemic, we know it required creativity. Congratulations to all students across all the post-secondary institutions that competed!” Portage College President and CEO, Nancy Broadbent.

For photo opportunities, interviews of students, and more information about the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition contact:

Nicole Solie, Marketing Specialist
780-404-5525 or Nicole.solie@portagecollege.ca

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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