Priscilla Choi and Ryan Crasta – both undergraduate students at UBC Sauder – recently placed third in Canada’s largest marketing and strategy competition, Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec (CNTAE). They were competing against 184 teams from 28 universities.
Organized by the DeGroote School of Business, Ontario, the goal of the CNTAE competition is to establish a bridge between industry and universities through the transfer of expertise, mentorship and career opportunities in the fields of marketing, strategy and communications.
Finalists were invited to spend five days at the InterContinental Hotel in Toronto, and present to a panel of more than 20 senior leaders, including CMOs and CEOs.
Crasta explained that getting to this stage was a two month-long process during which his team submitted a marketing proposal designed to attract more young developers with business skills to work at Microsoft’s AI programs.
“Our strategy focused on using VR experiences to inspire, with consistent marketing messages pushed through various channels, like social media and traditional media,” he said.
“Once we got to phase two, I think we worked about a minimum of three hours a day for two straight weeks,” recalled his team partner, Choi.
During the preparatory work, the duo were mentored by professors at UBC Sauder.
“We received great feedback on our submissions from Professors Ann Stone and Tim Silk after each round,” said Crasta. “Their insights helped us solidify in our minds what makes a great marketing campaign and to concentrate our efforts on the most crucial elements. Their advice for the final round also helped us mentally prepare for presenting to a panel of senior leaders.”
Both Choi and Crasta agree that the school provides students with many opportunities that help them compete at this high level.
“For a competition like Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec, what matters most in the final round is staying calm and being confident about your idea. But it takes practice to do this, and we received plenty of support from faculty and the career centre to help us feel ready,” said Crasta who has previously taken part in other competitions like JDC West.
Choi and Crasta competed for a grand prize of $25,000 and the title of Canada’s Next Top Exec. Despite placing third, they now have access to career starts offered by Microsoft, PepsiCo, Dentsu and Canada Post.