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Competition success propels two graduates forward

UTSC students Dane Gomez and Omar Elmezaini finished second in Canada’s Next Top Ad Executive competition. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Whenever Omar Elmezaini and Dane Gomez talk about the Canada’s Next Top Ad Executive competition, their excitement bubbles over.

They call their second place finish -- out of 178 teams -- in this nationwide case competition one of the highlights of their university careers. Presenting their case solution before a panel of 26 corporate executives at Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel required the pair to combine their public speaking savvy – honed in Professor James Howard’s communications class -- with their marketing and analytical skills, and they shone. They earned the honour of becoming the first UTSC team in the competition’s history to place in the top 10.

The duo’s competition success has directly influenced their futures. Elmezaini, who finished his coursework in December, had set his sights on working for PepsiCo, and his stellar showing led to a coveted job offer. Elmezaini currently works for the company’s consumer insights team in Mississauga, and hopes to work his way into brand management. Gomez, too, received job offers as a result of the competition and is currently negotiating a post-graduation position, with the eventual goal of being an entrepreneur and “making a difference in the world at large.”

Both 23-year-olds are graduating this year from the UTSC management co-op program.

“In today’s competitive landscape, a co-op gives you a stepping stone to practical skills,” said Gomez. His co-op terms offered him the opportunity to work as a project analyst at the Ministry of Energy and as a consumer sales and marketing intern at Hewlett-Packard.

Elmezaini also chose the co-op program for the competitive advantage it offered. He spent his co-op terms with a startup and a ball bearing manufacturer.

“In today’s market, there is a high level of competition,” Elmezaini said. “Having practical work experience gives you a huge leg up.”

Professor Cindy Chan, a marketing specialist, was one of the faculty members who provided feedback to Elmezaini and Gomez as they prepared their Top Ad Executive submissions.

“They worked incredibly hard on this competition,” Chan said. “Their work exemplifies the intense personal drive and passion of our students.

“There are no limits to what the students in our department can do with boundless energy and creativity, supported by smart and strategic thinking. We are tremendously proud of Dane and Omar and excited for their bright futures.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough