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Selkirk College Business Programs Build Strong Futures

School of Business students taking part virtually in the annual Business Plan Tradeshow this past spring impressed both the panel of local experts and their instructors. With the new semester now underway, a new cohort of students is now building the knowledge and skills needed to reach desired careers.

A foundational piece of the college’s program mix since the doors first opened to regional post-secondary in 1966, School of Business alumni have provided decades of entrepreneurial spirit and sector expertise that has helped bolster the economy in local communities and beyond. As cohorts in the Business Administration Diploma Program, Post-Graduate Accounting Diploma Program and Post-Graduate Business Management Diploma Program embark on a new academic year, energy amongst students and faculty is bursting.

“It has been a challenging time for post-secondary with COVID-19 and pandemic recovery casting a shadow over how we deliver our programs,” says Gordon Rein, chair of the School of Business. “We adapted and managed to have a very successful academic year in 2020-2021 by shifting learning online. As we start a new semester, our faculty are taking what was learned over the last 18 months to strengthen the pedagogy. This year’s curriculum is being delivered through a mix of online and in-person which allows us to provide an excellent education in a number of different ways.”

The School of Business has a deep roster of business industry veterans who reach learners locally and from around the world. A popular pathway for international students, last year instructors delivered curriculum across multiple global time zones. More than 120 students graduated with credentials in spring 2021.

Working Towards the Big Finish

Turning ambition into action and ideas into reality is the focus in the School of Business. While students settle in, many already have their eyes on the capstone course in entrepreneurship.

Taking place in both the fall and winter semester, the Business Plan Tradeshow element of the course gives students the opportunity to develop a full business plan to be applied, usually in the Kootenay region. Learners submit drafts of six major components of their business plan including the business concept, market feasibility, financial projections, marketing, legal considerations and operations. Utilizing information from this course and the many others they have completed, students create a viable plan at the end of the semester.

“It is a challenging and difficult task requiring the real-world application of much of their studies,” says Cibylla Rakestraw, a School of Business instructor. “Regional business lenders and leaders are invited to this event along with college faculty and leadership. This creates a superb networking opportunity and students receive professional feedback prior to submitting their business plan for final grading. The tradeshow is the highlight of the semester and students, although often nervous before the event, find the event to be exceptionally exciting and positive. At the end of the day, they often feel extraordinarily proud of what they have accomplished and far more confident in their new skills.”

In spring 2021, the tradeshow was presented virtually due to pandemic considerations. All students involved in the competition presented before peers who then voted to determine the top business plans. Those finalists then went onto present before the panel of external industry judges.

In the post-graduate diploma category, Jaspreet Kaur took top place with her business, J’s Tutoring Services. With a strong academic background in mathematics and science, Kaur was able to effectively add those skills to her business training at Selkirk College. She impressed the judges with a thorough and credible business plan. In second place, Surekha Basra and Shivaun Perez presented an innovative online co-operative business idea called Care Hub which would link a broad range of personal service providers in a community with people who require those services, mostly targeted at elderly clients or persons with disabilities. In third place, Rahul Lohani and Sajin Sunny Mathews presented their plan for a cannabis retail business called Kootenay Cannaverse.

In the undergrad competition, the winner was Joe Gage with his business plan called Rock Solid Countertops, a business he is currently pursuing in Parksville. In second place was Nakul Arora with his business idea called Swoosh Delivery Services and in third place was Sarah Dugay with her business idea called Off the Hook, a seafood-based food truck business to be set up in Castlegar. 

“Considering the uncertainty of the times and what all students went through in the last year, it was a real incredible display of talent at the spring tradeshow,” says Rakestraw. “Our graduates are prepared to make a difference and confidently stride towards their goals before the ink is dry on their credential. It’s exciting to be part of that energy and now we get to work on ensuring the upcoming tradeshows are just as impressive.”

You can learn more about the Selkirk College School of Business at: https://selkirk.ca/school/business