On 15 November, the halls of Riverdale Collegiate Institute were flooded with thousands of suits and ties, milling around all three floors of the sizable school. Armed with binders and pencils in hand, one could easily have mistaken them as a mob of upper management en route to an important meeting. And that wouldn’t be far off the truth, as the day marks the first in an exciting series of business competitions created by the Distributive Education Clubs of America, commonly known as DECA.

Photo: Nicholas Vadivelu

MGCI students competed at the DECA Regionals competition.
Photo: Nicholas Vadivelu

At the regional level, all school chapters within the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Boards compete in both an online business exam written near the end of October and a role play evaluation held in November. Students at the regional level compete in one of 26 categories, which are grouped into five clusters, individually or in teams of two. With the variety of topics ranging from Sports and Entertainment Marketing to Business Law and Ethics, participants are introduced to many different business terms and concepts.

The online exam mainly tests the participants’ knowledge on basic business terminology, as well as more advanced information specific to their cluster, for example Marketing, or Business Management and Administration; the role play provides real-world scenarios that a person working in the industry will expect to encounter. As they receive the case study, individual competitors and teams are given 10 and 30 minutes respectively to prepare a presentation that proposes a solution to the problem, and present it effectively to a judge within a certain time limit. This requires a significant level of problem solving abilities, and trains the participant in effective communication under pressure.

Doubling its chapter size from that of previous years, Marc Garneau was very well represented at Riverdale CI, with a whopping forty-nine students in attendance. DECA club executive Vanessa Du believes it was “the biggest group for MGCI, ever”.

Errors in the schedule resulted in a delay of three hours for some events, causing an inconvenience for certain participants. “It could’ve been organized better,” commented Grade 9 student Jaitra Chaudhuri. Comments ranged from the enjoyment of the overall experience to conversations regarding the judge’s friendliness. The experience was best summed up by Rafiq Habib’s statement: “I never thought that interviews could be fun.”

MGCI's chapter took home over 30 awards at the regional competition.

MGCI’s chapter took home over 30 awards.
Photo: Nicholas Vadivelu

The team’s efforts paid off. As the awards were given out, it  was evident that MGCI was one of the top-performing  schools in attendance. Spearheaded by a record-breaking  run by the first-time DECA participants, Garneau took over 30 awards in total. Out of all the astonishing  performances by Garneau students, certain outstanding  achievements include: club executive Jessica Cao who  received first place overall in her category of Food  Marketing, Parnika Godkhindi who received second place  overall in  Principles of Business, Ryan Lin who received  second place  overall in Principles of Marketing, and Adela  Lam who  received third place overall in Principals of  Marketing. It was also remarkable that all students participating in the Principles event received a top ten ranking in the exam, role play, or both.

At the end of the day, the DECA regional competition was an exciting and invaluable experience for all participants. The team now awaits the results of the regional competition as well as the list of students qualifying for the provincial competition in February.