UTM’s Undergraduate Commerce Society (UCS) and Student Management Association (SMA) co-hosted their sixth annual Ready, Set, Market! conference on November 3 at the Communication Culture & Technology building. The conference provides UTM undergraduate students with workshops, networking opportunities, and a real-world marketing case to solve. Oriented toward beginners, the conference aims to enhance students’ professional development skills and business preparedness.

Kristena Disalvo, Marketing Director of the UCS, wrote in an email to The Varsity that “the main takeaway from the [students’] perspective was the experience they gained. Many of these students never competed in a case competition before… and they were thrilled with how much they learned.” 

UTM students were able to register for the event in groups of four. Case competitions require participants to develop solutions to a business-related case study within an allocated time. Selected finalists present their innovations to a panel of judges. 

This case this year was developed by real estate firm Oxford Properties Groups — also the event’s sponsor — with a marketing focus that integrated accounting, human resources, and other financial aspects. The event began with a talk from Claire McIntyre, Oxford Properties’ Vice-President of Marketing and Communications. The talk was followed by workshops that addressed key skills in business, such as how to network and use LinkedIn more effectively. 

Students had the opportunity to practice what they had learned in small groups with Oxford Properties representatives, before participating in an open networking session. The experience allowed students “to step out of their comfort zones,” said Disalvo.

The case competition took place in the afternoon, and its broad theme allowed groups to pursue any idea related to innovation, technology, and creativity. According to Disalvo, some notable presentations included the implementation of zen gardens, multipurpose desks that could be used for both group work and quiet work, and creating designated pet care places in the office. 

In its second consecutive year as sponsor, Oxford Properties increased its involvement by meeting with each team two weeks before the conference to offer presentation coaching and provide early feedback.

Overall, Disalvo hopes that the conference helped students to improve their “presentation, time management, teamwork, networking and leadership skills.”

Ready, Set, Market! has evolved considerably since its inaugural case competition in 2013; skill-building workshops were introduced in 2014. Looking forward, the organizers of the conference hope to see it grow even further, with Disalvo aiming to open the conference to non-UTM students.