Four School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) students in 2 teams, competed at the National Business and Technology Conference on February 5-6, 2016.
Competing against 12 teams , Math CPA class of 2016 student, Flora Zhang’s group came in first place in the Data category of the competition.
HomeZilla, a Toronto-based company that provides online property listing services for real estate agents, was the subject of the Ivey case study.
Students were challenged to identify the characteristics of photos which are most attractive to online users by analyzing over 3 months of user browsing history and provide insights on how to generate more interest and higher contact rates from potential home buyers.
Flora Zhang's winning team took the approach to analyze and prep the raw data set in Excel and the pictures and visualization of the site in Tableau.
Zhang says a pivotal part of the competition was learning through AFM 417, a course that works with real business clients to conduct analytics for a company.
"AFM 417 taught us how to approach data with an analytical mind-set, and still formulate business recommendations from the data insights. Being a student of SAF, business case studies and presentations are common in almost every course. So although we were competing against some students that come from a much more technical and mathematical background, I believe we were able to win due to our superior presentation skills and the ability to tell a story with the data instead of simply presenting the judges with numbers and facts."
Fannie Cai, MAcc class of 2016, attributes SAF’s networking sessions and case-based lectures on their 3rd place success. “Having good presentation and networking skills were essential at NBTC. As SAF students, presenting in front of others has already become a well-practiced skill and this definitely gave us an advantage.” Competing with Fannie were AFM students, Alex Gong, MAcc class of 2016, and Radhika Sikka, MAcc class of 2016.
AFM students were mentored by MAcc graduates Kieng IV and May Leung who provided guidance and coaching. Kieng and May encouraged the students to organize their presentation, approach to the case, and use various analysis tools (SAS, Tableau, Python, etc.) and techniques (Descriptive, Predictive Statistics, Visualization, etc.) to maximize their competition results.
Cai indicated that the collaborative team environment and the ability to brainstorm ideas was the best option for success.
“In regards to the technical aspects of the data analytic case, we thought that it was important to brainstorm as a team to gather various perspectives and approaches to analyzing the data. This was key to determining the most significant analysis and findings to present in the given time constraint [of the competition].”
The conference offered delegates the opportunity to network with executives, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs. Workshops during the conference were designed to bring Business and Technology ideas together.
The National Business & Technology Conference has grown into Canada’s premiere destination for the next generation of CEOs, founders, and innovators: http://nspire.org/nbtc16/