Team Wins Big at Commerce Games

Guelph was one of 10 universities that competed

Emily Jeffery, left, Conner Anthony and Kira Harrison

Let the games begin! This January marked the first time U of G undergraduate commerce students entered Les Jeux du Commerce Central (the commerce games), an interuniversity competition for commerce students that was hosted this year by Carleton University in Ottawa. Despite being the newbies at this event, they brought home some impressive awards.

Fourth-year real estate and housing student Talia Poleski was one of the team’s “godparents.” Although she couldn’t actually compete (because she is an executive member of the Canadian Association of Business Students, which oversees these events), she had worked for two years with the extensive support of the College of Management and Economics Students’ Association (CMESA) to get U of G involved in the competition.

Team captains Alexis Butty (third-year marketing) and Chelsea Galoni (second-year real estate and housing) proudly led and inspired the Guelph team to reach their fullest potential at JDC Central.

Here’s how the competitions work: student teams of three people each compete in different categories, and the teams in each category are given a case study to analyze. They then have three hours to prepare a 20-minute presentation explaining their analysis and recommendations. Guelph entered a “half-team” with students competing in four categories (full teams competed in nine categories): human resources, marketing, finance and accounting.

Poleski describes the HR case study: “The company had to decide if it wanted to merge with another company, and the students in the competition had to analyze the advantages and disadvantages, the costs, the possible layoffs of employees and the changes to the corporate culture, and then provide a final recommendation.” The students create a PowerPoint presentation but have to memorize much of the data and background, and must be prepared to answer questions from the judges.

U of G's team consisted of (front row, from left) Joshua Orth, Rebecca Fenech and Ben Bickers. Second row: Joshua Morgan, Maggie Chen, Kira Harrison, Erica Trigiani, Emily Jeffery, Joanne Lam, Sarah Zuiani, Meghan Pohl, Chelsea Galoni, Prof. Lianne Foti and Prof. Elliot Currie. Third row: Stephanie Smith, Zac Staz, Talia Poleski, Conner Anthony, Jenna Whytock, Prof. Sylvain Charlebois and Alexis Butty. Not pictured is the accounting team, which consisted of Dave Howard, Kent Santin and Nitin Moudgill.

With 10 schools in total competing, Guelph was the “half-delegation of the year.” The team also won first place in human resources, second place in finance, fourth place in marketing and fifth place in accounting. The social team placed fourth.

“We knew what we were doing with the cases,” says Poleski. “We’d been practising every Friday since September. The organizers even commented on how well-prepared we were.” She credits their faculty advisers Sylvain Charlebois, Elliot Currie, Lianne Foty, Sandra Scott, Agnes Zdaniuk and Melanie Lang with helping the team members learn the skills to tackle these cases.

Unlike most student competitions, this one is about more than academics. “There are also school cheers and social activities, networking and the full delegations also have a sports team,” Poleski says. “The opening ceremonies were on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, with over 400 students gathered, and that was a very memorable experience for our entire delegation.”

She comments that while every team wants to win, the environment is more positive and cooperative than cutthroat competition.

“The College of Management and Economics is only five years old,” adds Poleski. “To compete against returning schools to JDC Central and perform so well is something to be proud of. People saw that our case teams were able to put together a well-thought-out presentation. This kind of success helps to take our team to the next level, and encourages business organizations to think of Guelph when they go out to recruit new employees.”

Next year, her hope is that a full team made up of 48 business students will attend. “We had an extremely talented group of individuals this year. Everyone came back so inspired! We are confident that Guelph will have a strong, full team to send to the competition in 2013,” says Poleski. To read more about the team and the games, visit