They studied, prepared and competed virtually, but students from Niagara College’s School of Business and Management will soon have a very tangible souvenir to display on campus from their recent success at the Ontario College Marketing Competition: a trophy from their second place overall win.
After months of preparation, a team of 16 NC students from the Business – Sales and Marketing and Business Administration – Marketing (co-op) programs catapulted out of their comfort zones and took on the intense, pressure-cooker challenge against the best and brightest marketing students from 10 other colleges across the province. Held on November 25-26, it was the first time the annual event has taken place since the onset of the pandemic – following its cancellation in 2020 – and was presented as an online competition hosted by Humber College.
“I am tremendously proud of our NC team for their outstanding results on the provincial stage,” said Alan Unwin, dean of Business, Tourism and Environment. “Their success is a testament to their willingness to commit to several months of intense training, the quality education they receive from our College’s School of Business, and the steadfast support of our faculty member coaches who are dedicated to helping students achieve their dreams.”
The NC team earned their second place overall title from cumulative points scored during multiple individual events at the competition, where students competed in pairs, individually or in teams of four. They also won hardware with four podium finishes in several events, including first place in the International Marketing Case, second place in Entrepreneurship Case, and third in the Retail Case and Marketing Case.
“We were thrilled with the results from this year, particularly since all the training and coaching occurred virtually,” said Sales and Marketing program coordinator Terri Champion who was among a team of faculty coaches for OCMC 2021. “We are looking forward to adding our second place overall trophy to our trophy case in the School of Business.”
Champion, who has been coaching OCMC teams at NC for 19 years, noted that while it is exciting to see students win awards at OCMC, she finds more lasting meaning in the impact that the overall experience has on the students. She has witnessed firsthand how students gain confidence as they learn how to improve their analytical and problem-solving skills, enhance their communication skills and learn how to adapt and perform in high-pressure situations. She also sees how competing has been a springboard to success for many students who have landed job offers from contacts made at the event, and moved on to successful careers after graduation.
“The OCMC changes lives. The growth students experience is remarkable. From the beginning of the coaching process to the actual ‘game day’ performance, the whole experience is transformational for them,” Champion said. “They also have the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and other high performing students from colleges across Ontario which is why it is much like the Olympics for marketing students.”
Second-year Business – Sales and Marketing students Jonathan Hufana and Veronica Meza Mandujano, who are both international students – from the Philippines and Mexico, respectively – were thrilled to capture first place in the International Marketing Case.
“I feel happy and proud to be able to represent Niagara College and bring recognition to our school,” said Hufana. “The experience and knowledge I have reaped from the training sessions with our coach, analyzing several real-life business cases, and the countless presentation practices will surely help me in my future career in sales and marketing – particularly in identifying business problems, analyzing situations, and implementing sales and marketing action plans.
Hufana found the training sessions and analyzing real-life business cases most rewarding, as it exposed him to what he will face in the workforce.
“This experience is a testament to Niagara College’s effort to make the students as work-ready as possible, hence their motto ‘applied dreams,’” he said.
Meza Mandujano values the experience she gained, which she believes will help her as she pursues her career.
“These months were not only a preparation, but also a fantastic opportunity to learn, live together, share emotions, happiness, nostalgia, and stress, all concluding in a wonderful reward,” she said. “It was unquestionably a fantastic experience.”
Long-time Niagara Falls resident John Stamatakos who is also a second-year Business – Sales and Marketing student, was interested in participating in OCMC as an opportunity to step outside of his comfort zone, enhance his presentation and critical thinking skills. The experience did not disappoint. All of his hard work paid off when he and his teammate Marcus Woodward placed second in the Entrepreneurship Case.
“It was a very challenging yet highly rewarding experience. I absolutely believe it has made me a more receptive learner and critical thinker,” said Stamatakos. “I can also confidently say I’ve learned and acquired many skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my academic and non-academic career.”
Students applied to be a part of NC’s OCMC team in Winter2021 and final selections were made during the Spring term. They began training for the event in September coached by a team of faculty members including Terri Champion, Malcolm Howe, Chris Treschak, David Pasterik, Monique Finley and John Sustersic.
NC students have been participating in OCMC competitions since 2002. This was the fifth time a team from NC won second place overall at the OCMC (the last time was in 2011). Niagara College hosted the OCMC in Niagara Falls in 2019.
For details about OCMC 2021, visit ocmc.ca.
Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.