UBC Sauder won School of the Year in Western Canada’s largest business competition, JDC West, hosted this year by the University of Saskatoon on the weekend of January 16.
In total, UBC Sauder students took home three first place awards, two second place and three third. The victory represents a powerful return to the podium for UBC Sauder, who last won School of the Year in 2011.
“Combine every cliché of any winning student team that’s put their life and soul into their work and won. Take them all, put them together, and add one more cliché: You can’t explain it, you can only experience it,” said team co-captain Kevin Dhami.
JDC West is Western Canada’s largest business competition. Each year, around 50 students each from 12 top Canadian business schools come together to compete for one weekend. The competition spans 10 business disciplines, and additional categories focus on charity, debate, team spirit and athletics.
Dhami and fellow Co-Captain Faizal Shivji remember the moment the “School of the Year” honour first seemed in reach on kick-off day: at the end of their first presentation focused on Management Information Systems.
“That was the moment,” said Shivji. “The whole presentation felt flawless...It had this booming effect that said ‘Sauder’s here, we’re here to compete, and we’re here to win.’”
The students competing for UBC Sauder had practiced at least 15 hours a week for four months for the competition.
The captains credit their win to the work ethic of members, a lot of research and open communication. Their goal all year was not to win but to accomplish what Shivji witnessed – each team being the best version of themselves on competition day.
The team is student-run, and supported by the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS) and its faculty advisor Kin Lo, senior associate dean, students at UBC Sauder. Lo notes that the support of the school’s alumni in the coaching process was instrumental in the team's success.
The JDC West team relies on a network of over 100 industry partners and alumni to help as team executives, coaches and judges for practice competitions. BCom graduate Connor McGauley is one of those supporters. He last competed in 2011 and is now a busy associate with a private equity firm in San Francisco. But he still invests substantial time and effort to support the JDC West team.
“JDC West is a business case competition unlike any other that I have participated in around the world,” said McGauley. “The skills and experiences I learned at JDC West were invaluable to me, helping me get ahead in my roles after graduation in consulting and private equity.”
McGauley has coached a team before, but this year he sat on the JDC West board of directors, a group of alumni from across Canada responsible for the competition and who provide its governance and structure.
Team co-captains Shivji and Dhami will soon hand the reigns of JDC West to a new pair of leaders, elected by the CUS. They’re working on a transition plan and fostering relationships with UBC Sauder faculty that will help their team keep their podium spot in years to come.
“It was a big blessing, being able to serve the community and give back to the school in this way,” said Shivji. “We don’t want this to be a one-off thing – we want to create a model of sustainability for future competitions.”
UBC Sauder’s first place wins were in international business, human resources and business strategy. Its second place wins were in entrepreneurship and Academic School of the Year (another overall metric that excludes the non-academic competitions like sport and social) and its third place wins were in athletics, tax and not-for-profit. Three teams also finished fourth for management information systems, marketing and finance.