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Bow Valley College team takes second place at Alberta Deans Case Competition

Bow Valley College hosted the province-wide competition March 16 to 18.

The Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition, which has been running for 18 years, is open to students from Alberta post‐secondary institutions that offer business programming. Teams are given a case to analyze and research, before developing a recommended course of action which they present to judges on the final day of the competition.

Bow Valley College was proud to be the host institution for the province-wide competition this year and for the first time since 2015.


Twelve schools including Bow Valley College made up this year’s field: Northwestern Polytechnic, NAIT, Red Deer Polytechnic, Lakeland College, SAIT, NorQuest College, Athabasca University, Medicine Hat College, Olds College, Portage College, and Keyano College.


This year’s case saw teams advising a local gaming company, Red Iron Labs, who wanted to scale their virtual reality game.


The team from Bow Valley College had a tremendous showing, finishing in second place.


During their preparation, we talked to the competitors and coaches of the College squad who shared about the challenges, dedication, and excitement in the lead up to the competition.

The team:

  • Carolynne Scoffield – Digital Marketing major; single mother; sole proprietor of a social media solutions firm, Savvy Socialite.
  • Agus Antelo – Human Resources major; originally from Uruguay; seven years’ experience in performance monitoring and employee coaching.
  • Steven Woh – Accounting major; background in corporate restructuring.
  • Elaine Paglinawan – Human Resources major; experience as an office manager for a global firm in Qatar.
  • John Padlan – Digital Marketing major; experience in international trade specializing in food chemicals and additives.

The coaches:

  • Kristy Calles – Program Chair with Chiu School of Business; instructor at BVC since 2012; MBA; passionate about strategy and using data to piece together stories.
  • Jeff Kawalilak – Faculty member with Chiu School of Business since 2007; Master’s in Adult Education specializing in workplace and adult learning; committed to creating meaningful and challenging learning environments.
  • Steven Trottier – Instructor in in general business, human resources, and marketing; master’s degree in business; completing PhD; focus on building transferable skills for students and encouraging a global mindset.

What got you involved in this competition?    

Carolynne (competitor): I wanted to join this competition as I was the child prodigy that fell behind. After joining Bow Valley College and being in Kristy Calles’ “Intro to Management” course, I no longer felt satisfied with achieving “just enough.” I wanted more. I wanted to be the best. Kristy’s teaching style woke something up in me. She asked if I’d like to be a part of this team and I jumped at the chance to apply. I was fortunate enough to make the team not just last year, but this year as well.

Agus (competitor): Jeff [Kawalilak], one of our coaches, told me about the case competition. He encouraged me to apply as he believed that my skills would be a great asset to the team.

Steven W. (competitor): This is my first competition. [My desire to enter this competition] comes from the word ”hungry.” I always stay hungry because I believe that I am young enough to make more mistakes. The more mistakes I make in my life, the more I’ll become a knowledgeable leader in the business world. How many opportunities will we have in our lives if we don’t prepare ourselves for the first one?

Elaine (competitor): This is my first time joining a competition like this. This exposure would provide many learning opportunities and help prepare me to achieve my goals. The first reason that made me decide to get involved is that Jeff Kawalilak will be one of the coaches. Jeff’s passion is admirable, and I could relate to his experiences leading him to Bow Valley College. I look up to how he is as an instructor and a lifelong learner and hope to be half as good as he is. Kristy Calles and Steven Trottier confirmed my decision to join. I also want to work on my fear of public speaking, and I feel that entering the competition will help me overcome it.

John (competitor): I decided to get involved in the case competition because I want to be exposed to analyzing business cases. As someone aspiring to a career in strategic business management, this competition will provide me with a valuable opportunity to learn and grow. Moreover, the chance to be mentored by top-notch coaches who are experts in their own careers is something I couldn't pass up.

Kristy (coach): I have been involved with the competition since 2019. Jeff Kawalilak originally recruited me as we both have strengths that complement each other regarding coaching. I adore working with students, employing strategic direction, and "following the read thread," as students have often heard me say.

Jeff (coach): I’ve been a faculty advisor (coach) for the Alberta Deans of Business Case Competition for 10 years. The value of this event extends far beyond the tangible application of the learner’s business capacity, which is why I enjoy being a part of this exciting event each year.

Steven T. (coach): [This} is a perfect opportunity to combine each core business competency that is needed to be a well-rounded business professional. I was attracted to the competition as it allows students from different backgrounds to work together as a team to incorporate human resources, marketing, accounting and more to real-world business situations that emulate what they will experience in the workplace.

How much dedication does the competition require on top of your studies and other commitments?       

Carolynne: The time and dedication is a lot; we meet with the coaches twice a week at the outset, and now we’re doing a case a week. That will soon pick up to two cases, then, we will have 48 hours to do one. The team and I are in constant communication, and we meet an additional two times a week. I’d say at least 20 hours a week of my time goes into the meetings and collaboration.

John: [The competition] does require a considerable amount of time and effort on top of my studies (five courses this term), being a father of three beautiful girls, and other job commitments. We have regular meetings with the team and coaches twice a week for one and a half hours via Teams.

For coaches, what is the time commitment like for this competition?

Kristy: A tremendous amount of preparation goes into the competition. We advertise the case in November, interview those learners interested in joining come December and solidify our team shortly after. We have a "kick-off" meeting in December before the holidays to get the team together, so they can meet one another and then begin case analysis in January. We spend a few weeks on our first case to review strategic frameworks, financials, and research, and then, following, assign a case each week to our team.

Jeff: Coaching the case competition is the equivalent to teaching a course. We spend several months recruiting in the fall term; we interview students and choose five members for the team, then begin coaching in January through March.

We meet with students twice a week for 90 minutes. Coaches research a diverse range of cases for students to analyze. We coach on the business analysis process and how to make meaningful connections between what they’ve learned in their program and the real-world cases we examine. Students also present their analysis to the coaches each week.

We also work with students on their public speaking skills and their ability to engage an audience. Team building and creating a safe and collaborative environment is also a primary focus of ours as we recognize that the value and growth extend far beyond the competition.

Steven T: The commitment is similar to a full course, for students and instructors. We meet twice a week for roughly 1.5 hours each session with additional work for coaches in reviewing and selecting cases the team will work through, then analyzing the cases. The emphasis for coaches in preparing for each case the team will review is to select the key aspects of the case and use this analysis to offer feedback to the team based on their associated deliverables. We try to foster creativity, create strong group dynamics, and increase business competencies that will be needed to succeed in the competition (and their future careers).

What are the benefits to taking part in this competition?

Elaine: Lots of rewards and recognition! And, of course, the learning opportunities that we can take away. Every team member brings something different to the table that we all get to learn from – everyone has unique skills. While it's been stressful, I also find it rewarding – we’re being coached by some of the best instructors in the business program! That’s probably the best thing this competition has – it’s the coaches dedicating their personal time to hone each one of us. And, of course, we also get the opportunity to meet and connect with potential employers or maybe business partners. It’s all just a win-win situation for everyone, regardless of the outcome of the competition. But of course, we’re working hard to place on top among all the competitors!

Steven W.: We all seem to understand that solving a problem is easy, but when you are solving a problem outside of your comfort zone or knowledge, it is not easy. This competition is training me to think within a specific framework to solve problems.

Agus: This competition is helping me analyze real-life business cases and exercise critical thinking. It is helping me become more aware of threats and opportunities that could impact businesses, and to be creative about possible ways to come up with valuable solutions. It is also a great opportunity to learn from both the coaches and my peers.

Carolynne: What is special about this team is that every single member has exceptional knowledge in their given specialty as well as a detailed broad knowledge from life experience, their cultural backgrounds, and other courses. Each one has strengths that the others don’t have, and the level of respect and camaraderie they exhibit is unparalleled.

John: The team has gelled well, and I feel that I can rely on my teammates through thick and thin. The connection that we have built with each other and with our coaches is the most significant benefit of taking part in this competition. The friendship we’ve forged together, also with the coaches, will always have a special place in my heart.

For an excellent first-hand account of the competition by Carolynne Scoffield, click here (redirects to her website, Savvy Socialite).

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