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B.C. business schools show their marketing mettle

Capilano University and BCIT teams top U.S. business schools in competition
Back row left to right: Robert Dromey, Phoebe Chung, Tom Kramer, Chris Critchley. Front row left to right: Adam Wong, Vermie Pacson, Pauntehah Poursaba | Submitted

Two local B.C. schools are out to prove that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

Capilano University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) have been chosen as finalists in the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) 39th Collegiate Case Competition.

The competition is a yearlong event that puts top undergraduate marketing students to work on a complicated business challenge submitted by a sponsoring organization. Established in 1986, the competition challenges students to develop an impressive marketing strategy that stands out on a national level.

“The team last year placed in the top 20, the first year Capilano had participated in the event, which was huge for the school,” said Pauntehah Poursaba, a student and team leader at Capilano University.

“There is no Canadian competition that comes even close to the calibre of this event in the marketing world.”

Poursaba and her team of six secured their spot among the top nine finalists who will go on to present their research to eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) in New Orleans on March 16. The team from BCIT landed in the top 20 as a semifinalist.

“I nearly cried when I got the call,” said Capilano business instructor Andrea Eby, who handpicked the team and served as its mentor. “This project was the equivalent of roughly two additional course loads for these students, and they were up against major business schools.”

Capilano beat out renowned U.S. business schools at Indiana University, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Nevada and more.

To participate in the competition, schools must have an affiliated AMA collegiate chapter. The AMA has roughly 30,000 members with 75 professional chapters and 360 collegiate chapters. 

This year, competition sponsor eBay asked students to create a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote its services among young people.

“EBay has been seeing a decline in the number of 18- to 35-year-olds using their services,” Poursaba said. “Our main task was how to attract the younger demographic.”

Students worked from 15 hours to 40 hours per week, committing evenings and weekends on top of full course loads. All seven students are at varying stages in their degree program, but Poursaba believes their relentless commitment to the project helped bring about the team’s success.