Let’s meet Ally and Olivia: the dynamic duo of the BCITMA. These two women put their blood, sweat, and tears into the case this year… and all of their hard work really paid off. They placed 2nd place in the AMA Collegiate Case Competition for Wall Street Journal.
So let’s dive in and learn more with this brilliant duo.
Q: First of all, how was NOLA?!
Ally: It was a whirlwind, but it was incredible! Olivia and I waited for 11 months for NOLA and it completely exceeded all of my expectations. New Orleans is such an amazing city and I absolutely loved the people there.
Olivia: I second Ally! It was incredible. This was my second year going, and it was even better than the last. I love New Orleans, and we ended up really happy with the outcome of the case, so it was an awesome trip.
Q: What was your favourite part about NOLA?
Ally: The moment right after our team presented case. We all tried to remain calm as we were walking out of the presentation, but then everyone started celebrating. It was completely surreal. Everyone was hugging and jumping up and down and at one point Hunter picked me up and spun me around. There were definitely some tears. It was a moment of relief and utter joy.
Olivia: Ya that was an amazing part. We worked so incredibly hard for 11 months straight, and having it all come together and be so proud of what we accomplished was overwhelming. It was such a relief, but also sad to see it all come to an end. There were many emotions!
Q: For those who are reading and may not know, maybe one of you can give a small description of what exactly ‘case’ means?
Ally: My definition: Mayhem. But the best project I have ever been a part of.
The AMA definition: The American Marketing Association holds an international case competition every year. The case usually revolves around the conference sponsor each year. Each year, schools are tasked with creating an integrated marketing campaign and solving the sponsor’s main marketing problem. This involves qualitative and quantitative research, building a strategy, ideation, media planning and designing the graphics for the campaign. Not to mention summarizing all of that into a 20-page report. The top ten cases from around North America get the opportunity to present their campaign in New Orleans. This year, our team got to present to three executives from the Wall Street Journal.
Olivia: To me, case is the most laborious, insane, yet incredibly rewarding process I’ve ever put myself through! Many people don’t realize that most competing schools have entire courses revolving around designing a case for this competition. We’re doing this all on our own ‘extra’ time on top of 7 courses. So it’s a wild process.
Q:What was it like doing the case? How many hours did you spend on it?
Ally: It was intense. I think between the two of us we must have put 1,000 hours in. Case is the ultimate project and the Case Lead is the ultimate project manager. We had to manage team members and timelines. We had to schedule interviews, focus groups, brainstorming sessions, concept tests, and a trip to Seattle for an American focus group. We had weekly meetings with instructors and our team mates. Then we had to actually write out all of our findings and then rewrite and rewrite again (thank goodness Olivia is an amazing writer). And you do all of that on top of your seven other classes.
It was a lot of late nights and meeting on the weekend. I got used to the feeling of seeing my car in the BCIT parking lot all by itself and realizing that my classmates had left hours and hours before me. It’s a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding and people in our industry really respect the time that we put into it.
Olivia: With this project, you kind of always have to be on. There’s so much to do in such a short period of time, and we all know what the BCIT course load is like. We logged about 500 hours each but it definitely felt like a lot more. When we got past most of the research and onto the strategy and creative, we talked on the phone constantly, always brainstorming. To me, those parts were the most exhausting, but also the most fun.
Q: How did you stay motivated to do the case among other school priorities?
Ally: I was very lucky to have Olivia as my partner throughout this process. She was always willing to put in the work and stay late at school or come in on weekends. It’s easy when your team is willing to work just as hard as you are. We really had a passion for our work and we wanted to make everyone proud by making it to the semi-finals in New Orleans.
Olivia: I agree with Ally! Having her as a partner was by far my biggest motivator. We were both set on doing the best job we possibly could, and case was our top priority outside of regular coursework.
Q: What are you plans for after grad? BBA? Work? Travel?
Ally: Travel is always in my future plans. I don’t have any trips planned yet, but I’d love to go scuba diving in Belize or go back to Costa Rica. For now, I am really focused on starting my career at a marketing and advertising agency. I’m excited to really dive into my work after school is over.
Olivia: Ally and I both love to scuba dive so our next dive trip will definitely be together! I also love to travel, and am incredibly excited to spend June and July backpacking around Southeast Asia. After that, it’ll be time to head back to reality. I’ve loved working in the tech industry doing digital marketing during my internship, so that’s likely what I’ll be pursuing after I go travelling.
Q: How did you two manage balancing this role with your studies at BCIT? What did you do to essentially, stay sane…?
Ally: Olivia and I spent a lot of time in the instructors’ offices in the fall. Tracey, Karen, Geoffrey and Erin were all so supportive throughout the process and would always make time for us. Our meetings were a combination of counselling sessions and business meetings.
I was also lucky to have such a supportive group of friends and family. I had people around me who were always willing to provide encouragement or some advice. The executives for the BCITMA were so supportive throughout the process and were always willing to help.
And at the end of the day, Olivia kept me sane. I knew I could tell her anything and she would understand what I was going through. Or maybe we were both equally insane…that’s open to debate.
Olivia: I 100% agree. We spent more time talking to faculty than our families and spent more time in the ehpod than in our bedrooms. Having each other to fall back on when times were rough meant everything. I don’t know if I can say that we stayed sane, but we had each other, so we ended up ok!
Now for the fun questions…
Q: Tims or Starbucks?
Ally: I lived off of Tims when I lived in Halifax, so I will go with Tims.
Olivia: I drink blonde roast from Starbucks, and that’s because of Ally…so I’m not too sure why she would say Tims…
Q: Pepsi or coke?
Ally: Coke. I mean, come on. Those polar bear commercials are so cute.
Olivia: Coke! It’s nostalgic, a total classic, and it tastes better. And we’ve all seen the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial…
Q: Who is your celebrity crush?
Ally: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I adored him ever since 10 Things I Hate About You.
Olivia: The Sprouse twins. It all started with The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and now they’re artsy, nerdy, NYU-grads which pretty much sums it up.
Q: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Ally: Heck yeah. Highly recommend The Parlour’s hawaiian pizza. It’s so good.
Olivia: Absolutely. Who doesn’t love sweet and salty?
Once again, congratulations to the MA-azing Ally and Olivia. These beautiful and intelligent women did something most would never brave to do. Thank you Ally and Olivia!
Interviewed by Raelyn Pearson. Thank you for taking the time to interview these two!