JDC West delegation finds success through perseverance

Not only did the team captains generate enough interest for UNBC to send 10 teams to the 2023 JDC West Competition in January, but the delegation captured four trophies at the three-day event which attracts the top business students from across Western Canada.

February 7, 2023
group photo featuring three rows of students
Business students in UNBC's Bachelor of Commerce program recently travelled to the 2023 JDC West Competition at the University of Saskatchewan. (photo credit: Kelly Bergman)

The theme of this year’s JDC West Competition was ‘Triumph through Perseverance’ and, according to UNBC’s team captains, that’s exactly what the University’s delegation did at the three-day event in Saskatoon.

Known as the Olympic Games for business students in Western Canada, UNBC’s JDC West teams captured first place for most charity dollars raised, first place in marketing, third place in debate and UNBC graduate Ben Walls earned the Growing Legacy Award.

Captains Sam Schneider and Christian Clark-Gray both feel this year’s awards carry extra significance because they symbolize more than just a recognition of the hard work UNBC’s delegation of 42 put into preparing for the competition and success in the events, they also represent the local club’s ability to rally after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just being able to come out of the pandemic, be one of the smaller business programs at the competition and have such tremendous success is definitely a special takeaway,” says Schneider, who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Accounting.

But both captains feel it was so much more than that, it was a year of reviving the JDC West program at UNBC.

“After two years of being online, Sam and I were the only ones with in-person competition experience,” says Clark-Gray, also in his final year, majoring in Marketing and Finance. “We had a lot of work to do at the beginning of the year, drumming up interest, to convince students it would be a worthwhile event. It became an easy sell once students really understood the rewards to be gained from participating.”

The captains received help in their efforts to reinvigorate the team from Patricia Miles and Ryan Tretick, two UNBC alumni who remained involved as team mentors.

“I joined in the last year of my program and, looking back, that’s really unfortunate because I realized too late what a great opportunity being involved with JDC West is and the amazing experience it provides,” says Miles, who now works in Human Resources at Northern Health. “This year, I wanted to stay on and help Sam and Christian. Their work really inspired a lot of students who are now talking about coming back next year and convincing their friends to join. It’s all because these two really re-built this year and made it amazing.”

The captains credit Miles’ efforts with facilitating the victory for most charity dollars raised. UNBC’s JDC West delegation raised $92,000 for the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation to support cardiac care in the north. The amount totaled almost half of what was raised by all schools competing in the 2023 event.

Clark-Gray says UNBC often outperforms larger schools in this category. “One of the benefits of being from a smaller community is we develop really close relationships with our charity partners and our sponsors.

“Success at the competition proves it’s more about input and output, than the size of the school. You get out of it, what you put in.”

For Aleisha Ramsay, that meant becoming the first JDC West participant in UNBC history to secure back-to-back wins at consecutive competitions. Ramsay was on the three-person team that won the Entrepreneurship trophy in 2022’s virtual competition. This year, Ramsay and teammates Collin Joyce and Konnor Sawyer won the marketing event.

After two years of competing virtually, Ramsay says it was encouragement from Tretick to set a second podium in her sights that motivated her this year.

“I’m so unbelievably grateful for the support I received along the way from the captains and mentors, as well as friends and family. In my opinion, JDC West offers the best opportunity to gain real life business experience while still in your student career,” she says. “I highly encourage everyone to join. The benefits you receive in terms of confidence in public speaking, analyzing what information is important and overall business sense is absolutely unmatched and I’ve already had a number of career opportunities open up for me as a result.”

Schneider agrees the JDC West competition offers a unique opportunity to gain real-world experience and he hopes this year’s success will ensure interest at UNBC for the 2024 event.

“JDC West is an opportunity for students to apply so many skills outside of the classroom. Participants really have a chance to improve their technical skills when it comes to case solving and presentation abilities,” he says. “As well, you’re essentially getting to meet the top 600 business students from across Western Canada and network with business professionals from across the country. It’s an opportunity to gain so much knowledge and just soak up as much as you can.”