Grade 10 student Grace and Grade 11 student Alyssa were beaming with excitement to share their experience at the Ivey High School Case Competition in London on January 20th. The pair had reason to celebrate as Alyssa’s team placed first out of approximately 100 students while Grace participated as the only Grade 10 in the competition.
The Ivey High School Case Competitions take place in London, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa. Widely considered the top business school in Canada, and among the best in the world, the Ivey Business School looks for applicants in Grades 10 to 12 who are motivated, high achievers and team players.
“After attending the Ivey High School Summer Leadership Program in 2017 and hearing about the Case Competition I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Alyssa says. “We got to stay on campus and learn more about university life while tackling challenging projects together. It was so much fun and all of the students that were there were invested in the work.” Grace hopes that she can attend the program this summer, “I have sent in my application” she adds “so fingers crossed.”
Alyssa and Grace learnt they had been approved to attend the Case Competition a few weeks before, after Alyssa reached out to the organizers requesting permission to apply. “After learning we could apply independently I was so excited,” Alyssa shares. “I knew that it would be an amazing opportunity so I submitted the application and we got in!”
With the help of Alyssa’s mom the pair travelled to London the evening before to ensure they would arrive at Western University well before the following morning’s check-in time of 10:45 a.m.
“I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to expect” shares Grace. “Everyone was so dressed up with blazers and skirts, and so professional. It was definitely intimidating when we first walked in to register.”
Once they checked-in, Grace and Alyssa spoke with other students before the introductory session. During the session, the group learnt about case-based learning with an emphasis on the PEST analysis (political, economic, socio-cultural and technological) and SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). “It was so interesting to learn about how many factors an organization analyzes and it was also really helpful for the competition,” shares Grace. Alyssa had previously learnt about PEST and SWOT analysis, “I think I was at an advantage having attended the summer leadership program as we had applied both analyses over the course of our time there.”
After the introduction the girls were assigned to teams comprised of 6 to 7 members. Each team was presented with a case and were given three hours to develop a solution for the organization. “We were working for the entire three hours,” shares Alyssa. Grace adds, “My brain felt like it was mush when we were finally done.”
The groups were then split into three rooms with four groups to a room. Each group had 10 minutes to present 10 slides followed by a five-minute Q&A period where the judges had an opportunity to ask questions. After the initial presentations, the group with the strongest solution was chosen to present in the large auditorium in front of all of the other students, faculty and panel members.
“It was so nerve racking waiting for the results,” Alyssa shares. “And I was shocked when I heard it was my group going on.” Grace on the other hand was not surprised at all, “I knew when I heard their presentation and solution that they were going to win. I was so happy for Alyssa!”
After getting over the shock Alyssa and her team went on to win the competition. “It was a really great learning experience and I took away things that I can’t get from the classroom,” shares Alyssa. Grace agrees adding, “If you assert yourself and don’t get in your own head you are able to have your voice heard.”
Grace hopes to attend the Case Competition next year and bring a team from Trafalgar, “I was younger than everyone else; next year I will be more prepared and know what to expect.”
Alyssa shares it was an exciting opportunity that she hopes other students at the School can get excited about. “I didn’t realize that I was even learning throughout the process,” she shares.
So what are the girls taking away from the competition? “Use your voice,” Graces shares, “Don’t be afraid to state your opinion and ideas.” Alyssa reinforces this sharing, “Whatever you say, say it confidently. If you are confident about what you’re saying then people will listen.”