First-year Business Administration - Marketing (co-op) student Kara Fleiszig placed first in the fashion and retail management stream at a recent DECA Edge case competition held at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. She was just one of two college students participating in the event.
DECA is an internationally renowned non-profit organization with more than 200,000 members that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools, universities and colleges around the globe.
Fleiszig discovered DECA in grade 11 when one of her business teachers suggested she join her high school chapter. She was hooked after the first practice and found herself loving activities like “Throw me a pitch” where she had to pull a random product, target market and price and then develop a pitch on the spot.
“Some of the scenarios were a lot fun,” said Fleiszig. “Like the pink phone we had to pitch to 65-year-old men for $50.”
During high school, Fleiszig participated in DECA regional and provincial competitions and attended an international conference where she was able to network and attend workshops.
“When I got home from internationals I knew I wanted to pursue business,” said Fleiszig. “I decided to come to Conestoga because, in my opinion, and from everyone I’ve talked to in the industry, a university degree isn’t necessarily going to make you a good business person. I only applied to one college, Conestoga, because I knew this is where I wanted to be.”
Fleiszig arrived on campus at the start of the fall 2019 term and was very pleased to learn Conestoga hosts its own DECA U chapter.
“When the Ryerson Edge conference came up I was a little apprehensive because it was at Ryerson University in the Ted Rogers School of Business and that was a little intimidating,” said Fleiszig. “Aside from myself and our chapter president, Farouq Atari, there were no other college students there. Everyone kept asking what program I take at Ryerson and I kept saying I’m not a student there which made me even more nervous.”
She presented two case studies to a panel of judges drawn from the fashion industry in Toronto, but only had 10 minutes to read and prepare each presentation. One was centred around an online jewelry retailer that wanted to sell at a pop-up shop for three months as a form of promotion. Fleiszig was tasked with developing a month-by-month marketing plan and had to describe the expected return on investment, explain how customers would be attracted to the pop-up and how they’d connect back the online channel.
“It’s a lot of work under pressure, but that’s good because in the real world you’ll have a boss that will need something by tomorrow and you’re not going to have time to prep. You’re going to have to throw yourself into it, so I think it’s a really good real-world situation,” explained Fleiszig. “After I got home from winning at Ryerson, I felt like I found my place at Conestoga and it made my transition to college so much easier.”
Fleiszig has stayed in close touch with a number Ryerson competitors who are often surprised by the range of course work she’s completing and the experience of the professors she’s working under.
“All my teachers are fantastic, which is great because I was nervous coming in. In high school you just keep hearing that university or college will be so scary. I’ve made so many friends already though and all the teachers seem so invested in your success. I think that’s a big difference. I feel everyone here is like-minded and when you get in a spot when everyone around you is motivated you feel lifted up by your peers so I get inspired. Networking and making these friends and connections has been the best part.”
Fleiszig and a number of her DECA U Conestoga team members will head to the DECA U Ontario provincial conference January 17 to 19 at the Toronto Sheraton Centre. Approximately 20 universities and colleges compete at provincials in case competition categories that include restaurant and food services, marketing management and retail management.
The Business Administration - Marketing three-year advanced diploma program takes a project-oriented approach and provides opportunities to work with real-world clients. As an advanced diploma, focus is placed on ensuring graduates can perform a number of more complex functions including applying principles of financial analysis and control, using analytical and evaluation skills to support a variety of management functions, development of integrated marketing plans that drive towards business goals and objectives and embracing new technology.