DeGroote is named “School of the Year” at JDC Central

January 27, 2021 |
Contributed by Rebecca Hull, Marketing and Communications Strategist


2021 Champions

DeGroote students win “School of the Year” at the JDC Central (JDCC) competition last weekend. The DeGroote team, led by co-chairs Liam O’Brien and Emilie Suwala, won a school-record of 10 trophies and placed first overall.

On the weekend of January 22-24, a delegation of 44 DeGroote students represented the School at the 12th annual JDCC competition, the premier undergraduate business school competition in Central Canada. More than 600 delegates from 12 business schools participated in JDCC, which includes academic cases across 10 different disciplines and e-sports, social, charity, and participation components. Academic cases require students to solve a case within three hours and make a 20-minute presentation to a judge’s panel.

DeGroote JDCC Team

“Please join us in congratulating Liam, Emilie, their executive committee, and the rest of the delegation for their dedication and commitment this year. We are very excited about the future holds for JDCC DeGroote, with many likely returnees already shifting their focus to 2022. We hope that these students can continue to count on our collective encouragement and support as we now shift our focus to defending our title!” said François Neville and Linda Stockton, JDCC DeGroote Faculty Advisors.

JDCC Faculty Advisors

Linda Stockton has been the JDCC faculty advisor since 2013 and taught international business at the undergraduate level and marketing at both the MBA and undergraduate levels. François Neville teaches in DeGroote’s undergraduate program and has acted as faculty advisor for JDCC since 2017.

As faculty advisors, how do you prepare the students for the JDCC competition?

Students are recruited for the eight academic teams, social and sports, beginning in May. Once the delegates are hired and assigned to a group, weekly practices start in September with their faculty or alumni advisor. Throughout the semester, academic representatives attend various workshops related to case methodology, presentation skills, and other essential topics while also completing four mock days on weekends to replicate the actual competition.

Why should a student participate in a case competition?

Students should participate for many reasons. First, they add tremendous value to their resumes. It teaches them to analyze information and develop workable solutions, which is good preparation for their future careers. They meet other students from other years and other universities and allows them to network. They develop long-lasting relationships. They learn team building and leadership skills. It gives them a chance to commit to something and then takes responsibility for it. Personal growth happens. They learn to handle pressure and stress and to focus on the job at hand.

What advice would you give a student/team on how to analyze a case?

It is critical to clearly identify the problem and key issues. Err on the side of having a focused or narrow approach to solving a case rather than a broad strategy that risks being scattershot.

JDCC DeGroote Team

Emilie Suwala

JDCC DeGroote Co-chair, Emilie Suwala

Co-chair Emilie Suwala shares more about how the DeGroote JDCC team prepared for and conquered the 2021 competition.

What does placing first overall mean to your team? What does this competition mean to you?

This might be my favourite year. Our delegation was able to stream the opening and closing ceremonies and support eSports and Social, which we usually don’t get to see during an in-person competition.

It still hasn’t set in that we won. The past three years have been working up to this moment. This win goes further than this delegation; this win goes out to all JDCC alumni who competed before us. This win goes to Linda Stockton, who for 10 years has stuck with JDCC DeGroote no matter what. This win goes to Francois Neville, who pushed us week after week to get better.

Explain more about the charity component of the competition.

Our delegates volunteered more than 1,800 hours within four months at 13 charities. Their volunteer work included helping developing marketing plans to tutoring elementary and high school students. The JDCC DeGroote team raised $7,000 throughout the semester, which has been the most money ever raised.

We also participated in a charity consulting project, matching with the Guelph Food Bank. The team had to plan and execute an event to help the food bank raise money each year.

My favourite thing about JDCC that other business competitions don’t offer is the charity component. It feels incredible to give back to the community.

If the JDCC DeGroote team were a brand, what would be your motto?

Underdogs adapt, evolve, and become winners because of their preparation, heart, execution, and the relentless attitude that the game will not end any other way.” – Ty Howard

What advice would you give to a student about participating in a competition like JDCC?

Go for it! It may be intimidating at first, but through competitions like JDCC, you get to apply what you learn in the classroom to real-life situations. It’s also a lot of fun getting to meet new students from DeGroote and other schools.

Co-chair Liam O'Brien

JDCC DeGroote Co-chair Liam O’Brien

Co-chair Liam O’Brien shares more about how the DeGroote JDCC team prepared for and conquered the 2021 competition.

What was it like to participate in this year’s JDCC competition?

This year was a year like no other. It was an amazing opportunity despite the fact that they had to move this to an online format. It was one of the best experiences I have had while attending McMaster, specifically the DeGroote School of Business. It was my pleasure to participate in JDCC for the second year in a row and be a part of this historic team.

Your team is placed in several categories. Tell me more about these cases. What approach did your team take to tackle these challenges?

The team consists of academic, debate, social, and e-sports categories. Each team member had their own unique areas of specialization and interest. This year we had a historic run where we were able to capture 10 podium finishes. This was a full team effort to win the school of the year. The preparation consists primarily of weekly practices to get ready for competition weekend.

Name three words that you describe your team.

Determined. Selfless. Collaborative.

If you could only choose one song to play every time your team got ready to compete, what would it be?

Fire Burning by Sean Kingston – This was the song that would play every time a DeGroote team was announced at the competition. We were fortunate to hear this song quite a bit at the competition. This song would definitely hype the team up.

What does this competition mean to you?

I am forever indebted to the collaboration and support with my other co-captain, Emilie Suwala and Professors Francois Neville and Linda Stockton. I am glad to be a part of an amazing team.

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