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Leder School of Business students win international case competition

Mar 07, 2018
L to R: President Humphreys, Cassandra, Leanne, Megan, Emma, and VP Academic and Research Hank Bestman.
L to R: President Humphreys, Cassandra, Leanne, Megan, Emma, and VP Academic and Research Hank Bestman.

Students from King’s came out on top in a competition featuring teams from as far away as Scotland and as close to home as the University of Alberta.

While many of the students competing in the Alberta Not-for-Profit Association (ANPA) External Case Competition had not heard of The King’s University previously, they came to know the name well when Leder School of Business students took home first place.

This international competition, hosted at the University of Alberta, saw 12 teams facing off to present their best business case for a not-for-profit organization. There were teams from MacEwan University, The University of Saskatchewan, and Ryerson University in Ontario, among others. ANPA runs the competition each year to connect post-secondary students with the not-for-profit community, using a real-life problem from a partnering organization.

When Ryan Young, Dean of the Leder School of Business, received the invitation to be a part of the competition, he knew that fourth-year King’s student Cassandra Sperling had a particular interest in nonprofits and encouraged her to compete. Sperling then gathered the rest of the group that would represent King’s: Leanne Buist (fourth-year), Emma Newhook (third-year), and Megan Apperloo (second-year). They had not worked together before, but most had competed in internal case competitions.

The heart of this case challenge was that the students had 24 hours to analyze a problem and create a solution from the time the problem was given to them to the time they were to present to a panel of judges. The business problem was a current issue that the Heart and Stroke Foundation is facing: how to engage donors in the millennial demographic.

Due to final draw placement, the group of women presented last. While their earlier competitors could finish, watch, and weigh their presentation on that of the following groups, their group had no such advantage. That meant waiting for hours with no way to judge where their presentation might fall versus the quality of the other groups.

The group decided to use Heart and Stroke’s “heart month”’ as their inspiration: a month-long social media challenge to live a healthier lifestyle, similar to “Movember.” Little did they know that one of the panel’s judges had been part of leading the Movember campaign. While this was a fun fact, their feasible and realistic strategy, along with an implementation plan and budget for the Foundation, was what ultimately put them in the winner’s seat.

“It was so affirming and rewarding to have all our work mean something to both Heart and Stroke Foundation and the judges,” said Sperling. “We felt like underdogs and did not expect to place, so winning was such a wonderful surprise.”

The grand prize was $5,000 to donate to a Canadian charity of the group’s choice. They haven’t settled on which charity as of yet, but they are excited to have the privilege of choosing.

For the team, their experience wasn’t just about the win. Sperling noted, “Connecting with peers from other business schools was incredible, learning more about the nonprofit sector was a joy, and the competition itself was a huge challenge but so worthwhile.”

The women agreed that the win was a confidence booster and an affirmation that what they’re learning in Leder School of Business courses is important and applicable to the world outside of the classroom walls.

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