If you don’t succeed at ICBC, try try again! 1982

Alvin Michael Hew

Arriving at Queen’s University in the fall of 1982 from Winnipeg to join the Commerce program, it was not long before I got into the thick of the program by learning about and taking part in the The Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) competition which was already then known to be the oldest business competition in the world. Back then, ICBC hosted business students from across Canada to compete in various disciplines including business simulation game, case competition, debating, etc.

It was my first-year Morris Hall room mate, Robert Schultz a fellow BCom’86 student (from Montreal and now COO Greentech Capital) who convinced me and Bruce Usher also BCom’86 (from Ottawa and now Professor of Practice and Director of Columbia Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and author of “Renewable Energy”) to participate in the Business Simulation Game to determine who would represent Queen’s at the main competition with the other Canadian universities.

As first year students, we were full of enthusiasm and confidence (as can be evidenced by our outfits in the photo). Although we just got to know each other, we felt well-prepared and took on successive quarterly decisions with a lot of analysis and deep thought that had to be submitted at regular intervals throughout the competition day.

Alas, despite our confidence, enthusiasm and efforts (and interpretation of what semi-formal wear meant), we didn’t win and missed out to be the team to represent Queen’s at the penultimate round later on in the school year.

But this failure did not deter us. Four years later, Bruce and I together with a new teammate, Jeffrey Brock (BCom’86, deceased) signed up for the case competition and won it in the final round with our proposal and recommendation on how best to manage the growth of People Express - an early low-cost airline that ran from 1981-1987. It was the first year that a team from Queen’s won the case competition in some years, allowing us to bring home this prestigious award for the school.

Taking part in ICBC made my years as a Commerce student at Queen’s special. It allowed us to not only meet many other Queen’s Commerce students, but it expanded our network of friends among other business programs in Canada. Finally, it taught me and my good friends that “if you don’t first succeed at ICBC, it was important to try and try again…”