March 6th-9th, Calgary, Alberta
I had spent some of my youth growing up in Calgary before moving to Vancouver many years ago. Our team of Amir Kamyabnejad, Anu Natarajan, Betty Rooprai and myself stepped off the plane and into -10 C weather with everything still freshly white from the major snowfall the day before. It didn’t take long for all those childhood memories to rush to the surface! But the city had changed a lot since last I was there. And it was refreshing to see how it had developed all these years. The traffic lights were still sideways though. Soon enough we were settled into the beautiful Hyatt in downtown Calgary for the next four days, the cold weather far from our minds.
We had arrived to compete in the Haskayne 24-Hour Case competition. Representing the SFU Beedie School of Business, expectations were high, particularly as we had two teams place in the finals last year. The Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary was the host of the competition, with 16 teams competing this year from across Canada. There were two international teams as well, one from Ohio and one from Hong Kong. This is a unique event with the case competition surrounded by many other networking events and plenty of opportunities to get to know the other teams.
The case itself was unique as well. Rather than frame the exercise as trying to solve a business problem, the scope was deliberately vague right from the start. The ultimate challenge related to addressing the labour situation in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, and the skills shortage overall at the national level. Not standard case competition fare by any measure. Also unique to this competition, the case-writer participated in Q&A and attended many of the networking events afterward, so everyone had plenty of opportunities to talk about the case and the approaches they took. He cleverly didn’t really help settle any debates as any good case-writer would always tell you that, really, there is no right answer !
Our team did not advance to the finals despite logging a great many hours and a very late night. As we watched the finalist presentations however, we could certainly see many elements that had come out of our own work, a sentiment shared by all the teams we talked to. In the end, all the teams did a great job and the final winners from HEC simply did a fantastic job of organizing and presenting what was arguably one of the most challenging cases we had ever had the pleasure of tackling.
The gala awards ceremony was thankfully the next day after we could all catch up a little on our sleep. To help get into the spirit, Amir and I went to Lammle’s Western Wear a few blocks away. Picked up some cowboy hats and had a ton of laughs along the way. We were a big hit at the gala and the party that followed. Was a nice way to “top off” the whole experience !
Andrew is a self-employed computer programmer, designing complex systems for the commercial greenhouse produce industry. He is enrolled in the MOT MBA program at SFU Beedie and absolutely loving every minute of it! Follow Andrew on Twitter at @gnumatrix