Okanagan College students David Langille

Okanagan College trio seek votes in Economist magazine contest

Trio of Okanagan College business students step up to face business planning challenge.

  • Apr. 25, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Find a company that you think has the potential to fail.

Wait, let’s make it a little harder: find a company that is currently valued at billions of dollars that you think has the potential to fail within five years. Explain why you think it may fail.

Next, let’s have you do it in a venue that is international, in an event sponsored by the world’s leading business magazine, The Economist.

That was the challenge facing three Okanagan College students, whose submission to The Economist’s student case competition is to be found online among 17 other submissions from business schools from around the globe, including the US, Finland, Hong Kong and Britain.

The only other Canadian team entered is from Carleton University. The American competitors include teams from Kent State, Loyola, Rutgers, the University of Colorado, Texas Tech University, and San Jose State University.

Officially the competition is called “Find a Zero: Which Billion Dollar Company Will be Bankrupt by 2020″ and is sponsored by Kerrisdale Capital Investment. (Kerrisdale Capital is an investment management firm based in New York that is known to publically engage in the practice of “short selling” securities. Short selling involves researching and anticipating declines in the value of shares in order to capitalize on the drop in price.)

The purpose of the competition is for students to research and identify business strategies used by actual companies that may be over-valued in the markets. First prize in the competition is $15,000 US. The entire prize package totals $26,000 US, including a $3,000 people’s choice award.

Coached by Okanagan College professor Yunke He (a CFA Charterholder), Karen Vandergaag and her teammates, David Langille and Curtis Loyd spent countless hours in the two-week window they had for the competition looking at various sectors, before settling on the telecommunications industry. From there, it was a review of major players until they settled on a prospect.

“The task was daunting,” explained Vandergaag. “First we needed to zero in on a sector or an industry and then search out one of the larger players and test its strength and stability, looking for issues with the company’s business strategy and its valuation, watching for disruptive forces and trends within the company’s sector.”

The trio of fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration students put together a compelling case about why they think the company may find itself in deep financial trouble by 2020. Their argument focuses on the practice of growing through acquisitions, and its effect on a company that is already highly leveraged, participating in an industry that requires ongoing transitions to new technology to remain competitive.

“We’ll learn in May what the judges of the competition think of our choice and case submission,” says Loyd. “Hopefully our case will be compelling and will resonate with the judges.”

“It was an intense undertaking,” said Langille. “It was a great chance to put the analytical skills and knowledge developed through our studies to work.”

“Case studies such as this are an integral part of the academic experience at Okanagan College,” explained  Heather Banham, the college’s Dean of the School of Business. “We encourage students to participate because, as in this instance, it gives them a chance to put what they learn to work.”

“This case competition is particularly interesting because it is a different approach, with the students asked to look for a company that may be about to experience failure,” adds Banham. “It is important to realize that their analysis is an academic exercise. The companies identified by the teams in this competition may already have plans to deal with perceived weaknesses.”

 

Just Posted

Death and fire not treated as suspicious

RCMP has turned the invesigation of Monday’s fire on Gaggin Road over to the BC Coroners Service

Reworked plan for Kelowna’s Green Square development approved

After rejecting first version of residential development expansion, council says yes to new plan

Police searching for GoPro owner

Police are looking for the owner of a GoPro seized by police in Kelowna

RCMP search for knife-wielding robber

Police in Kelowna release store surveillance images of an aggressive shoplifting suspect

Kelowna offers money for youth engagement

City looking for ideas from young people to improve city neighbourhoods

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

B.C. to reimburse methadone patients for taking clinic fees off welfare cheques

Provincial government agrees to pay back more than $5.5 million in deducted fees

Locket and brooch turned into RCMP

Kelowna - locket has been engraved with an undisclosed name

Lake Country bridge club supports those in need

Lake Country club challenges others to also donate money to the community

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Most Read