Case competition brings up winners

Annual HRC West gives students a chance to apply real-world knowledge

In 2013, Ian Gellatly of the University of Alberta approached the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA) with the idea of creating an HR case competition for post-secondary students in Alberta. HRIA embraced the challenge knowing there was a significant gap in practical learning opportunities for post-secondary students specializing in HR.  
With assistance from a dedicated committee of post-secondary representatives, the first event was held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in March 2014 under the name “HRIA Challenge.”  
The competition was designed to feature comprehensive business cases that explore some of the most pressing business challenges faced by HR professionals, and all cases were written by experts in the field. It also presented students with the opportunity to meet industry professionals with extensive experience in the field of HR during the day of the challenge and at a networking dinner.  
“Case competitions provide the opportunity for students to practise their knowledge while showcasing their analytical and presentation skills. These events also allow students to make new connections and friendships, both with their school peers and with those from other institutions,” says Melanie Peacock, associate professor at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
The teams were composed of three students and one alternate. Individual schools are responsible for assembling teams and in order to prevent judges from bias towards teams, each team submits a team name when they register for the competition. The team name does not reveal the school name and the judges only learn the school name when the winners are announced.
Five teams from Alberta schools attended the first event, with the team from the University of Lethbridge taking home the first prize.
Riding on the success, the second competition was held in March 2015 at Mount Royal University in Calgary. The event was renamed “HRC West” and attracted seven teams, including one from British Columbia (Okanagan College). This time around, the winning team came from the University of Alberta.  
For 2016, HRC West continued to grow, with 10 teams that competed from across the west (from B.C. to Manitoba). Camosun College took the honours of winning this round held at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.
“HRIA recognizes that a profession is only as strong as its next generation of leaders and that those future leaders need opportunities to test their abilities and develop practical skills. We are committed to engaging with post-secondary students and institutions to build awareness of HR and invest in Canada’s future HR professionals,” says Janice MacPherson, HRIA interim CEO.
For 2017, HRC West will partner with the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of B.C. It will be hosted at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, B.C.
“With more and more teams expressing interest, we expect 2017 to be the biggest one yet,” said MacPherson. 
“The excitement and enthusiasm of the students, along with the fierce competition between schools, will make this case competition one to watch.”
Kari Whipple is manager of communications at the Human Resources Institute of Alberta (HRIA). For more information, visit 

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