A group of 21 TRU graduate students have come out on top of other schools in British Columbia’s second annual competition for MBA students.
The B.C. MBA Games, held from Oct. 21 to 23 at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, featured a variety of competitions. Competitors worked on case studies, did community fundraising and also competed in athletic activities including dodgeball and canoe racing. The teams came from TRU, VIU, UVic, UBC and SFU.
Yash Thakker, TRUSU graduate student representative and member of this year’s winning team, said that the group feels ecstatic because they “put TRU on the map.”
“People didn’t know where TRU was,” Thakker said, adding that they were given the opportunity to network with Bill McKay, mayor of Nanaimo.
This year, the community competition focused on supporting families with children fighting cancer, with the Childhood Cancer Foundation being their provincial partner. The keynote speaker for the event was Sportsnet anchor and cancer survivor Faizal Khamisa, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was 16.
In the fundraising competition, the TRU team raised more than one-third of the posted donations. According to Thakker, of the $15,000 raised by the event, TRU contributed $6,500 thanks to the support of students and sponsors such as iTel Networks and ESL tutor Tacey Ruffner.
Last year, TRU’s team for the games came second with only a team of 12, coming in behind VIU.
Thakker believes that the reason TRU came out on top was because of more time for preparation this year, with practices starting two months ago.
“When you’re competing against SFU, VIU, UBC, UVIC, you’re tested to the next level especially when you’re in a course that is 11 years young,” Thakker said.
Shamir Mangalji and Steffi Thomas were team captain and co-captain and had led and organized the team over the past summer and fall.
Recalling the moment that TRU was announced the winner of the games, Mangalji described a scene of “black noise,” where students were jumping over chairs to hug each other and waved a TRU flag around the conference hall.
“We knew we had the talent to do it, but just finally hearing it come out just overwhelmed the both of us,” Mangalji said.
Thomas said that it was a good opportunity for the team to apply what they had learned in classes outside of the safe atmosphere of the classroom.
Not only did the team have a variety of skills, but they had diverse backgrounds as well.
“We are a very diverse school. We had 21 unique individuals and for all of us to come from all different walks of life was pretty cool,” Thomas said.
The team was composed of 16 international students and five domestic students representing eight countries.
Thakker, Mangalji and Thomas believe the support from faculty coach Nancy Southin was vital to their win.
“Nancy was a great coach,” Mangalji said. “Anything we needed, she would point us in the right direction from fundraising, to accounting help, to spirit ideas.”
Southin believes that not only did the team win because of their preparation and effort put into the competition, but also because they never at any point thought that they could not win.
“They prepared, practiced, knew their strengths,” Southin said, adding that the win further proved that TRU can compete with schools in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
“It’s so exciting to see people who worked hard do well.”
Now that TRU holds the trophy, the university will be hosting next year’s B.C. MBA Games.
“It’s appropriate to have the games at the Tournament Capital,” Mangalji said.
VIU will be hosting the national MBA Games in 2017.