Alyssa Antonio, a second-year Bachelor of Commerce student, volunteers to help high school students from Old Scona Academic prepare for the MacEwan Business Challenge.

Business challenge brings university and high school students together

March 25, 2019
Alyssa Antonio sounds like an old hand at analyzing business cases as she stands at the front of a high school classroom, explaining how the next day’s case competition at MacEwan University will work and giving two delegations of high school students at Old Scona Academic a few tips.

“You’ll want to look at why the problem you’re being presented with is important and how it impacts the business as a whole,” said the second-year Bachelor of Commerce student. “Then you can analyze different solutions and focus on one main solution to present to the judges.”

As a volunteer mentor, Alyssa got to give her leadership skills a workout on March 16 as she guided her team – one of the two representing Old Scona in the MacEwan Business Challenge – through the day-long event that brought together nine teams from five Edmonton schools. Each team was given 25 minutes to brainstorm and negotiate a solution to a business problem themed around social media, eight minutes to present their solution, and seven minutes to answer questions from a panel of judges made up of faculty and School of Business alumni.

Although the experience can be a little bit nerve-wracking at first, Grade 12 student Nibras Alam says the high school students really got into the challenge of it all, and the experience was one that reinforced his decision to study both business and computer science in university.

“The students are interested and engaged – there was enough interest that we actually had to have tryouts for teams this year,” said Jeff Karas, lead teacher of Old Scona’s delegations. “It’s a lot of fun and a tremendous experience for them to be a part of something so professional.”

The 2019 MacEwan Business Challenge winners were Harry Ainlay, followed by Old Scona in second place and Memorial Composite in third place. Ross Sheppard also received an honorable mention.

“This is one of the best things I have ever done professionally,” says Dr. Ali Taleb, associate professor in the Department of International Business, Marketing, Strategy and Law. “It’s great to see the connections form between high school students and MacEwan students, and to watch everyone working together – our students, our faculty and our alumni.”

The next step, says Ali who introduced the event in 2017, is to scale up. He aims for the MacEwan Business Challenge to go national and welcome teams from across Canada in the coming years.

MacEwan Business Challenge 2019 in photos

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