Capilano University School of Business students thrive in American Marketing Association competitions

Immersive education is also on display in students' upcoming two-week trip to China

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      Many postsecondary institutions like to talk about student-centred learning experiences. At the Capilano University School of Business, this approach is embedded in its DNA, as demonstrated by its field schools and its participation in a high-profile North American marketing competition.

      In a phone interview with the Straight, marketing instructor Andrea Eby said that she and another faculty member are taking 24 students to China for two weeks on April 22.

      They’ll visit Johnson & Johnson’s Asia Pacific Innovation Center in Shanghai, which is identifying and developing opportunities for new products in health care, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The students will also see a factory near Guangzhou and be exposed to plenty of Chinese culture at other stops along the way.

      “It’s a jam-packed, eye-opening, really immersive trip,” Eby said.

      The business school has strong links with the American Marketing Association, which is hosting the 2018 AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans from April 5 to April 7. At last year’s event, Capilano University came second out of 370 chapters of undergraduate students in an annual case competition, which involved responding to a marketing challenge from eBay.

      This year’s theme is “The Timeless Beauty of Marketing”, and Capilano University’s chapter has once again made the top 10 in the preliminary round. This means students from the business school will be allowed to make a presentation in response to a challenge from cosmetics giant Mary Kay.

      “The amount of work that goes into this is the equivalent of two courses,” Eby explained. “Basically, it’s a business problem and students have to prepare a marketing plan for them.”

      Capilano University has only 7,000 students, and just 2,000 are enrolled in the business school, yet it’s competing exceptionally well against students from top U.S. academic institutions. Eby said that Capilano’s small class sizes provide a competitive advantage.

      As a former manager of national brands for large corporations such as Cadbury and the former Ault Foods, Eby has tremendous respect for the impact of metrics on marketing. That’s because when she was overseeing large marketing campaigns, she was expected to deliver results that improved market share and profitability.

      She revealed that in a recent course on consumer behaviour, students spent an hour and a half in an Excel lab doing demand forecasting.

      “My fourth-year course is all metrics,” she said. “It’s applied marketing. It’s a capstone [culminating] course, and there’s an Excel spreadsheet every week.”

      Eby added that students will sometimes grumble that they hate math. However, she feels that if the numbers mean something, students see the relevance. And there’s certainly a great deal of metrics that goes into presentations at the AMA International Collegiate Conference and other student competitions.

      The Capilano University School of Business offers a four-year bachelor of business administration degree that combines classroom learning with hands-on training. There’s also a two-year business-administration diploma that enables students to specialize in accounting and finance, general management, international business studies, marketing, and strategic human-resources management.

      In addition, there are certificate programs in business administration and retail-business fundamentals, as well as diploma and certificate programs for those who hope to become accounting assistants.

      When asked how she would describe Capilano University business students, Eby replied that they are “doers” and “multitaskers”. That’s because about 70 percent of the students hold down jobs and many of them are paying their own way.

      “Being able to manage a multitude of tasks and being organized and being accountable—that’s what I love about Cap students,” she said.