UWinnipeg business students competitive in academic decathlon

By Brenlee Coates

“It means an academic decathlon. One day, ten events, testing all the knowledge one would gain in high school,” goes the line in the Adam Sandler classic, Billy Madison.
If this explanation referred to business school, it would do a pretty fair job of summarizing the Jeux du Commerce West (JDC West) competition two local business schools just participated in.
JDC West is Western Canada’s largest business competition, which gathers hundreds of students from the top 12 institutions in the region for a three-day, intensive event.
“They try to explain it to you as much as possible… except for when you get there, the atmosphere is just incredible,” describes Julie Kiernan, a first-year participant from The University of Winnipeg’s human resource management team. “Your wakeup calls are at 5 a.m. Mine was at 2. You’re really running on the adrenaline.”
Participating universities send teams of about 50 students to compete in one area of focus in the 10 academic competitions, or in a parliamentary debate, athletic or social competition.
Selections for the teams were made in the spring, and throughout the following fall term, students of The University of Winnipeg team engaged in weekly case studies, threw a charitable event, and held two mock JDC West competitions where corporate sponsors were invited to evaluate.
“It’s a pretty rigorous preparation process,” says David Johnston, who went to his second competition with UWinnipeg this January. “U of W did better than we have in the past… (it’s) probably one of the youngest business schools that go to the competition.”
While the Asper School of Business from the University of Manitoba maintained its long-standing reputation, even being awarded the school of choice at JDC West this year, the U of W is starting to score serious points for its well-prepped business candidates.
“With programs like JDC West and having a lot more students involved in it, there’s more buzz now,” says Kiernan, of the U of W’s faculty of business. “I’ve noticed a huge change in tone and topic about it.”
“I think more people are seeing it as an option for them,” adds Johnston. “U of W students are getting the same jobs as Asper grads.”
Johnston also holds the U of W’s small relative class sizes to its credit. “Because the program is so new here, it’s easier to get involved in things like JDC West,” he says.
Both Kiernan and Johnston have secured employment following their graduation this spring, and credit their education and JDC West experience for shaping their success.
“It’s a really good thing especially for interviews,” says Kiernan. Like when you’re asked those nagging questions like: “Tell me a time when you worked on a team” or had a disagreement.
“It shows you can think for yourself and apply (theory) in an everyday sense,” adds Johnston. “It builds those lasting relationships as well.”
The explosive atmosphere at JDC West was less like a catty cheerleading competition and more like healthy competition between peers.
“There’s so much pride in everybody’s schools… and a lot of support,” says Kiernan. “Everyone’s wanting to meet each other.”
“There really isn’t any bad blood for anyone,” says Johnston.
Not to mention, the competition awards participation marks and holds high standards for their distribution, and the U of W team earned fourth in participation overall.
Though it’s a student event, participation in JDC West doesn’t have to end after graduation. “They do encourage you to stay involved with the competition,” says Kiernan.
Johnston plans to return to his third year in the competition by helping pass on knowledge to the new accounting recruits. “I still hope to come back and maybe coach the team,” he says. “I think it never leaves you.”
Applications for The University of Winnipeg’s JDC West 2016 team are now being accepted. Students who have completed a minimum of three business courses are eligible to apply. Email uwinnipegjdcw@gmail.com for more information on the application process.

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