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High school students compete in LIVE business challenge at UTSC

Nearly 100 high schoolers took part in the first LIVE business case competition for secondary students at UTSC. (Submitted photo)

Nearly 100 well-dressed high schoolers crowded around tables in the atrium of the Instructional Centre on Saturday, June 7, bent on winning the first LIVE business case competition for secondary students.

The event was organized by the same team of UTSC management students who host the annual LIVE competition for business undergrads from universities across Canada, which UTSC won for the first time last November.

“We wanted to provide an outlet for high school students to use their skills honed in the classroom and apply them to a decision-making business simulation,” said LIVE co-chair Matien Kazemi, a fourth-year management student. “There aren’t many opportunities to do this at this at high school level. And at the same time, it helps expand our brand and show future business students how a university competition works.”

The eight-year-old national LIVE competition (standing for Leading Innovative Visions to Execution) is unusual in requiring teams to deal with challenges across multiple business streams, including finance, operations, marketing, accounting and strategic management.

This contest, the LIVE Future Leaders Challenge, featured a similar set-up. The 92 invited delegates, all top-ranked students from 16 Toronto-area high schools, were marked on how they performed in a day-long series of challenges related to operating a hotel.

The teams had to pitch to investors – four judges – and work on expanding their hotel to another city under a franchise operation.

“The presentations were super-impressive,” said judge Sherry Feng (BBA 2009), finance manager for Labatt Breweries of Canada. “Some of their presentation skills were better than people I went to university with.”

Feng noted that today’s high schools offer a variety of courses on business topics, ranging from accounting to entrepreneurship.

Judging the presentations with her were accounting lecturers George Quan Fun and Douglas Kong of the Department of Management, and alumnus Jonathan Kumar (BBA 2011), a senior business analyst at Target Canada and a former LIVE co-chair. David Zweig, chair of the Department of Management, delivered the keynote speech.

The $500 first prize went to four Grade 12 students from St. Robert Catholic High School in Thornhill – Douglas Huang, Michael Hui, Daniel Tharmathurai and Rares Topor-Gosman.

The other ranked winners came from Bayview Secondary (second), SATEC @ W.A. Porter Collegiate (third), Victoria Park Collegiate (fourth) and Marc Garneau Collegiate (fifth).

© University of Toronto Scarborough