Months of training has paid off for Concordia’s John Molson School of Business as it beat all challengers to secure the gold at the 2014 Jeux du Commerce (JDC) games, last week.
The event, hosted this year by the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, is the oldest of its kind in Canada and currently entering its 26th year. The event drew in over a dozen universities from across Quebec, in addition to the University of Ottawa and the University of Moncton.
The Jeux du Commerce games, whose slogan this year was “Oser. Entreprendre.” or “Dare. Undertake,” aren’t just a collection of boardroom exercises, but varied events that see teams go head-to-head in competitions. There are many components, such as an academic portion made up of business cases, debates, and stock-simulation; sports events; and the measuring of the overall team spirit of the schools with things like video challenges and sponsor-related events; and, finally, the social category, containing fun alternatives like improv teams and DJing.
“It’s very unique. It gives [many] students an opportunity to participate. Just because you’re not necessarily interested in doing academic cases and academic casework throughout the semester, you can also get involved in sports, for example, or social. It’s a way to get people more involved outside of the classroom,” explained John Molson Competition Committee president, Chris Carpini.
As Carpini makes clear, the prelude to the event was paved with sweat and preparation.
“We form our teams for the academic component over the course of the summer. There’s a really vigorous trial process from May through July. [This year] we had over 500 applications. They all try out [with] mock cases and interviews. From that pool of applicants we’ll make the different teams and choose approximately 80 – this year, 70 – to compete.”
For applicants who’ve made the cut, the fall semester consists of practice designed to increase their team cohesion, skill sets, and presentation abilities, as well as meet the constantly evolving requirements and tasks asked by the competition.
For first-time entrant, Loïc Sanscartier, the event proved to be an unforgettable adventure.
“It was an exhilarating experience, because it’s really as amazing as everybody makes it out to be, being there with all the other schools and teams.”
Despite months of work, when it comes to events like case competitions – where teams have to pitch innovative and effective solutions to a real-life business panel – participants have only a few hours following the discovery of their cases to formulate a response. The debate team, however, has even less time.
“Once we get called up and receive our envelope, we’re put in a separate room … and we have [a half-hour] to prep. That’s where it gets stressful, when you know the teams are starting to go up. Especially our team, who was usually one of the last ones to go up in each round. You’re worried about whether you’ll know a bit about the topic that’ll come up or not.”
To cover as much ground as possible and prepare for whatever eventuality might come up, there exists an extensive support community eager to put forward JMSB’s best face. Coaches, (made up of current professors, alumni, business personalities and corporations), work with the students to hone their competitive acumen. There is also a committee, (which itself won first place in the committee category at this year’s JDC), that works with CASA and various sponsors to handle logistics and funding. Finally, JMSB itself provides integral support, even creating for-credit courses specifically designed to help students engaged in business competitions.
“The size of the program has doubled – in terms of the number of students involved – in the past 2 years. We owe a lot of our success to them because there are a lot of schools out there who do not have that level of support and who don’t have the opportunities to send their students to these competitions,” said Carpini.
The winners aren’t sitting on their laurels, either. There are still dozens of other competitions to perform at, such as JDC Central, involving Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, and beginning in two weeks, a sister event created to emulate French Canada’s JDC success. It’ll be JMSB’s first time sending an entire delegation to those games. Last year only a half delegation was sent.
“It won half delegation of the year, which is basically the top honour we could win,” said Carpini, who simultaneously pointed out that their JDC win has only whet their appetite for more.
“As a committee we’re more pumped than ever. The stakes are high. The schools in Ontario know we won and we’re ready for round two. We’re motivated more than ever to keep it going.”
The games also have a serious, practical application beyond friendly (if fierce) competition and networking: businesses eager to scoop up talent eagerly note performance, and it is not uncommon for students to find their job opportunities significantly improved, if not outright secured.
“This only enhances the value of the JMSB degree, adds value, and increases JMSB’s rankings nationally and internationally,” said Sanscartier, who, while happy with his performance, is also a bit wistful. As he is graduating soon, he will miss the chance to participate in future JDC events.
“I was actually considering extending my degree so I could participate again next year,” he said, laughing.