Hard work pays off as York HR students head off to national competition

A team of four York undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Human Resource Management will compete later this week in a national competition that will test their analytical and presentation skills.  

The team, which includes fourth-year students Vlad Visan, Shabri Sharma and Tali Chernin, and second-year student Samije Beqa, is fresh from an impressive showing in a recent HR case competition held in January at York University.

Visan, Sharma, Chenin and Beqa are now undergoing intensive training with expert coaches, York human resources management Professor Mary Jo Ducharme and instructor Ron Alexandrowich, in preparation for the Excalibur tournament. Excalibur is a national human resource case competition organized by the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agrées in Quebec, which will pit the York team against other Canadian postsecondary teams, March 19 and 20 in Montreal.

The competition will see the trio analyze a case involving a sport jersey manufacturer and distributor undergoing a dramatic expansion. The York team will have 30 minutes to answer two questions and prepare an oral presentation not exceeding 10 minutes, which they will then present to a jury comprised of industry professionals. 

Hard work has paid off for the undergraduate team. Visan, Chenin and Beqa began their journey to the national tournament with a victory in York University’s annual Human Resources Case Competition Jan. 5. (Following the York competition, they were joined by Sharma.)

The home tournament, hosted by the School of Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, saw five teams of students analyze a live scenario and present a solution. They were presented with the case on Jan. 5 and had until Jan. 7 to deliver their solution.

"To win [the competition], each team had to create the right balance between what the books had taught them and what life has taught them," said Visan, who is also the senior vice-president of York’s Human Resources Students Association

The organizational problem involved LoyaltyOne, a Canadian loyalty marketing organization, which was seeking new and creative ways to attract talent to the company. This is the second year that LoyaltyOne has provided a case for the competition and event organizer Ducharme said executives at LoyaltyOne were so impressed by the solutions developed by students during last year’s competition that they were eager to participate again this year.

"The LoyaltyOne executives, including vice-president of human resources Sofia Theodorou-Locke and staffing manager Maura Dyer, were impressed with the quality of the solutions and the innovative approaches our HR students were able to provide [last year]. They actually approached us about being involved again this year and of course we were very pleased to have their organization be the subject of our live case again," said Ducharme.

"The case was about coming up with a new and creative type of social media to expose the company more and attract a greater pool of talent for them to hire," said Beqa. "[LoyaltyOne] wanted to differentiate themselves from other companies."