"Because someone did it for me"
Despite Dr. Vicky Roy's full-time teaching schedule, she has made time to coach SAIT students in extra-curricular case competitions for four years and counting.
"Because somebody did it for me when I was a student," says the School of Business instructor.
"Case competitions changed my life - they changed my husband's life," she says, referring to the doors opened in thanks to the additional experience and bragging rights they can provide for a resumé.
Case competitions bring students together and test their ability to analyze a business problem, create a realistic integrated marketing plan then present it to a panel of judges from business, industry and education.
With the help and guidance of Dr. Roy and her assistant coach, Marketing alumnus Kevin Pahl, SAIT's team of four School of Business students recently beat out 32 other teams for first place in the prestigious Vanier College BDC Case Challenge. (Photo: The winning SAIT team clockwise from top left: Megan Miller, Dr. Vicky Roy (coach), Kevin Pahl (coach), Becky Salmond, Pinder Sangha and Andrea Cubillos).
A case challenge requires participants to think cohesively, critically and fast. Pinder Sangha, fourth-year accounting major in the Bachelor of Business Administration program and member of the winning team, says his coaches made training for the competition challenging and relevant.
Sangha's team practiced six hours a week for three months using case studies provided by Roy through institutions like Ivy Business School and Harvard University.
"Vicky gave us excellent practice materials," says Sangha. "Between meetings, she sent us emails about topics that were hot in the business world. She kept us engaged and in touch with what's really happening."
A special case of paying it forward
It would seem that once you play at case for SAIT, you just can't stop.
Over the years many past competitors have returned as alumni to help Roy coach the next team.
Kevin Pahl graduated in 2013 and is now with Telus in Business Solutions West - Marketing strategy and Planning. He returns to SAIT as Vice Chairman of the School Of Business Advisory Committee and as the assistant coach for SAIT's case competition team.
"I learned so much from my own experience as a student - working with Vicky and my teammates (in case competitions)," he says. "This is my chance to give back the level of commitment that Vicky gave to our team.
That level of commitment is absolutely worth it to Roy.
"We are training the leaders of tomorrow," she says.
Making a case for the big picture
Roy has a passion for making more of the student experience, and she believes that business students who get involved with case competitions will have an advantage when they graduate.
"By doing those case competitions they are using everything in the tool box," she says. "It's not only about academics - it's about solving real business problems."
Business students are a diverse bunch - SAIT offers courses in Management, Financial Services, Accounting, Human Resource Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. To develop an effective real-world business solution all these areas need to work harmoniously.
"The students are mixed together, so they're not just honing their own skills - they are learning about all the other aspects of business and they are learning to communicate about them," says Roy. "It forces students to see that every decision has an impact on the big picture."
Sangha says open and positive group dynamics on his team were key to in winning the Vanier College competition on Feb. 14. They put their heads together and listened to each other in order to come up with the winning marketing plan for a hypothetical first aid service organization.
"I would recommend the experience to anyone interested," says Sangha. "I met so many students from all over Canada and they were all bringing their A game."