Fine CEOs for the day

Fine CEOs for the day

Students get a head start in honing their executive responsibilities by attending a high-powered business course

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(Top) The class and judges (from left): Susan Ramsay, Derek Anthony, Jan De Silva, Ian Burchett and Marisa Kwok.
(Top) The class and judges (from left): Susan Ramsay, Derek Anthony, Jan De Silva, Ian Burchett and Marisa Kwok.
Photos: Richard Ivey
Six teenagers stepped into the shoes of a CEO and made strategic moves for his company. Boy, did they succeed.

The winning team, Prestige Worldwide, came first in the case competition in this year's Ivey Summer Business Programme held by Richard Ivey School of Business Asia. The two-week summer course, which is in its second year, is tailored for secondary students. This year's competition featured 30 students aged between 16 and 22 from Hong Kong and elsewhere.

In their two weeks, the students experienced the nuts and bolts of the business world through studying real business cases with instructors Eric Silverberg and Erica Spear from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada.

Mareesh Devgun, 17, was a member of Prestige Worldwide.

"Eric and Erica were excellent," he said of the instructors. "Eric is a great presenter. He taught us to present in a simple, straightforward manner, and not to focus on the known facts. That's what we did in our presentation," said Mareesh, who studies at Sear Rogers International School, Hong Kong.

The case involved the real-life situation facing Mobiroo Inc, which sells Blackberry and Android apps in Canada and the US through gift cards. Its CEO, Vinay Chopra, had to consider a range of growth options for his start-up company in 2011 before the holiday season.

Students were asked to offer solutions by analysing the available information and considering the impact of their suggestions on the company.

"It is a difficult case. We spent a lot of time studying it and running the calculations to see if the options would be profitable. We discussed all options and justified our choice," said Colin Mok Wai-lun, a 16-year-old student at St George's School in Vancouver, Canada.

"We also walked around the room and tried to include the judges in our presentation," added 16 year-old Galen Law-kun from Discovery College, Hong Kong.

The students say they gained a lot from the course.

"I'm a shy person and I'm not good at numbers," said Scarlett Ho Yuan-ling, 19, from St Paul's Convent School, Hong Kong.

"But the teachers made the subject easy to understand. And they encouraged everybody to participate in class. Now, I've become so interested in business that I plan to join my friend in running his online trading business," she added.

"I've learned to perform my best, which is a lifelong skill," Galen noted.

"I've also learned not to worry about what people think when we present as it will hold us back and make us nervous".

"I'm expected to take over my parents' marketing business one day," said Mareesh. "The course has boosted my confidence and presentation skills. I want to be as good as Eric."

The students' performance impressed all the judges, who included Jan De Silva, Dean of Ivey Asia and Susan Ramsay, editor of Young Post.

"Prestige's presentation was exuberant and they gained the edge because they presented their solution early on and then defended it. They had to handle a massive amount of information to make their judgments and they did very well with that," Ramsay said.

"Judging this competition is truly rewarding," said De Silva. "It gives us the opportunity to experience, first-hand, the new-found knowledge and confidence of the students, and to glimpse promising future business leaders".

Young Post is a media partner of the Ivey Summer Business Programme. Read our Junior Reporters' blogs here.

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