Teneille Lewis says that she can never look at a Starbucks the same way again.

“No matter who you are or what you’re doing, business relates to every person,” she says.

We’re at one of the chain’s locations in Burnaby, sipping on our respective brews. Teneille, a first year student in the Business Administration diploma program, was part of the Capilano School of Business’ Junior Team that recently won the Western Canada Business Competition.

“You’re going into a Starbucks and you can see so many different things you’re learning from your first year,” Teneille says. “You’re looking at everything from a business perspective.”

For Teneille and her teammates—Marco Fleury, Lucas Daley, and Saulo Novais Ferreira—business is inseparable from life. That passion was strong during the live case competition, which took place at Okanagan College in Kelowna from March 20 to 23, 2015.

Students had to manage fictitious companies through a simulation platform, submit a strategic plan, and present their rigorous business decisions and strategies to a judging panel of accomplished business professionals.

On top of winning the competition, each Capilano student won awards in their respective roles: Marco for best VP of Finance, Lucas for best VP in Human Resources, Saulo for best VP in Operations, and Teneille for best VP in Marketing.

Even though the competition was an intense three days, preparation was even more demanding. In the midst of a full course load, the team worked together on their strategy for two months with a faculty coach.

“We spent every single day together,” Teneille says. “We would meet up after our classes, in between classes, before classes, and just go over different strategies.”

Coach Andrea Eby, instructor in the School of Business and marketing professional, worked with the group every week. From the get-go, she made sure that the students were confident in their public speaking. Each teammate had to do live presentations in front of Andrea, as well as other instructors and business people, and face constructive critiques.

“We went through pretty rigorous training that was the equivalent of a three-credit course,” she says. “And we saw improvements week by week.”

With each passing week, the group dynamics only progressed.

In the beginning, Teneille says, the team was uncertain. They took the time to read the instructions of the competition. In a document of 20 pages, there were only two sentences that described their fictitious company.

“All we knew was that [we sold] sensors and that we manufactured it,” she says.

Each competing school represented a different sensor manufacturer that had once been a monopoly, but was now split into different companies. The overall goal was to have the most in market share. But the students couldn’t even research “real world” companies—everything had to be kept within the competition.

The team used this vague descriptor to their advantage, focusing on a strategy that harnessed their unique talents. The first step was to streamline their finances and figure out the simulation program.

“Saulo made a template for us to figure out what we needed for financials,” Teneille says. “So that helped immensely.”

By the time they came to Kelowna, the team had already mastered the program. They could then focus their energy on honing their presentation skills for the judges.

“The reason why we did so well was because we had so much practice,” Teneille says. “And we just learned the program inside out. A lot of teams didn’t do that.”

A winning attitude

Throughout the whole competition, the teammates made sure to keep each other in good spirits.

“We would go out to Denny’s in the middle of the night and prepare for the next round,” Teneille says. “And we’d all buy each other drinks and make sure that we’re having a good time and not just focusing on being serious.”

That support system was vital to the team’s success, from the CEO to the VPs to the coach. Teneille stresses that her team is indebted to Andrea’s guidance and mentorship from day one.

“Andrea really brought the enthusiasm,” Teneille says. “I think that helped a lot. As a marketer, she brings that skill wherever she goes because she’s very easy to get along with.”

And Andrea couldn’t be prouder of the team’s accomplishments.

“You know what I loved about my team? They worked collaboratively, they challenged each other,” she says. “We worked in a really positive, collaborative, forward-thinking manner.”

The Senior Team, coached by instructor Robert Bruce, also represented Capilano University well at the competition. The team consisted of: Aziz Ali (CEO and CFO), Janet Fang (VP Human Resources), Stephanie Hahlen (VP Marketing), and Pouya Abdolhosseini (VP Operations).

Although they did not place in the competition, Andrea emphasizes that the learning experience was indispensable.

“They are keen to do this again and the learning was so fantastic,” she says.

Even though the school year has ended, the Junior Team hopes to work together again. At the end of our interview, Teneille smiles. The infectious optimism she had throughout the competition is still shining bright.

“I think we really grew as friends,” she says. “We’re trying to keep in touch since then and hopefully we have classes again in the future. I definitely feel like I’ve made some lifelong friends.”

Submitted by Marketing & Communications