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Glendon’s ‘Olympiades’ – A Business Economics Competition with a Future


A public lecture at Toronto’s Club Canadien last year, on economic and financial perspectives for 2007 (Perspectives économiques et financières 2007) and given by Clément Gignac, chief economist and strategist at National Bank Financial, was attended by members of the Glendon Students’ Entrepreneurial Club. And this encounter planted the seed of an idea for a Glendon business-plan competition, which came to fruition this spring.

Gignac put Glendon’s young ‘entrepreneurs’ – the members of the club –in contact with other executives of the National Bank, among them Jacques Naud, its regional vice-president, Sales & Personal Banking Laval/Northern & Western Quebec. As a result, Naud was welcomed as guest speaker at the Glendon Entrepreneurial Club’s next meeting, describing his work and encouraging members to develop their business ideas.

Winners and jury members celebrate, l-r: Daniel Harris, Alan Redway, Thomas Guillot, Hassam Hassan, Mina Knezevic, Robert Despatie, John Di Libero and Tracy Yee

During the summer of 2007, the Club’s president, Thomas Guillot and its faculty advisor, professor Robert Despatie (coordinator of Glendon’s Business Economics program) developed the parameters of the proposed business-plan competition for Glendon students. The students would be required to write a detailed business plan which would be presented to an independent jury. Through their connection with Naud, John Di Libero, senior manager of Business Development and Private Banking, National Bank of Canada, was recruited as one of the jury members. The others were lawyer in private practice Alan Redway, Robert Despatie and Thomas Guillot.

By early 2008, cash prizes for the first three winners were generously provided by the Principal’s Office at Glendon. However, Despatie felt that while money was an important incentive, perhaps an even more critical component of the prizes would be legal and financial advice from experienced professionals for the would-be entrepreneurs.

Left: 1st-prize winner Hassam Hassan is congratulated by Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts

Guillot and Despatie got down to work and developed the rules and publicity for the competition – this was after all, serious business. With advertising underway by February, the deadline for submissions was to be March 25th.

An impressive seven fully-developed business plans were submitted by Glendon students by the deadline. Each plan was presented by its originators to the jury on April 2nd. The winners were announced at a festive ceremony on April 23rd in the presence of the jury members and Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts, with Entrepreneurial Club members in attendance.

The winner of the first prize - $1,000 in cash and one hour each of legal and financial advice - was Hassam Hassan, with his proposal for Show Worthy Automotive Detailing. Hassan is very serious about setting up this business in real life. He is planning to work part time in the field during the summer, in the hope of going full throttle by the fall. “Hassan’s plan stood out”, said Despatie, “because he identified a niche and presented a well-organized, detailed submission, which has a genuine chance of success.” His niche is to start with cars, but with an eye on finding business in the more lucrative aircraft and bus sector.

Right: 2nd-prize winner Tracy Yee receives the award from professor Robert Despatie (with jury member Alan Redway in the background)

Instead of awarding a second and third prize, the jury decided to present two second prizes garnering $500 for each project, for business plans of equal excellence. One of these went to Mina Knezevic for Lunik, her proposal to create a financially successful student-run café on campus; the other went to Tracy Yee and Daniel De Dominicis for Magic Moments Corp., an event-coordinating enterprise which reaped enthusiastic praise and financial success at its inaugural production, The Glendon Wedding on March 1st.

“We hope to make the Olympiades of Business Economics an annual Glendon event”, says Guillot, “and open it to all York students in the next year or two. Who knows, it might even expand to include all interested students in Ontario within five years.” An admirable business plan for this team of hard-working, forward-thinking Glendon business economics students.

An article by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on May 1, 2008