The DGC Toronto team from George Brown College (GBC), winners of the seventh annual Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Global Student Challenge, said it took a different mentality to compete during a global pandemic.
“As a group, we worked well together via online video chats and collaborated well while we completed our online submissions,” the team said in an email to the Daily Commercial News.
“We had to complete our daily submissions while working around each of our work schedules. This required diligent time management skills, but with the help of our mentors, Andrew Gordon and Nick Lourenco, and the support from Professor Blago Blagoev at George Brown College we were able to submit on time and ultimately succeed in the competition.”
Team members Jonathan Isenegger, Philip Jager, Kristopher Turnbull-Poulin and Maxim Sokolicz are final-year students studying for the Honours Bachelor of Technology (Construction Management) at the Angelo DelZotto School of Construction Management at GBC.
The top six teams that qualify for the finals usually travel to the location of the CIOB’s annual Members Forum to compete, but due to the pandemic the competition was moved completely online.
“The one downfall was that we were unable to travel to Australia to meet and compete against the other teams,” said the team. “It would have been nice to discuss strategy and tactics with the other teams after the competition closed.”
Organized by CIOB U.K., the annual Global Student Challenge provides a realistic simulation where teams made up of three or four people act as a board of directors running their own construction company. Students use the MERIT simulation software to enter weekly bids on projects as they compete against teams from around the world. This is the third year in a row a GBC team has made it to the finals.
We made aggressive and calculated decisions that allowed us to capitalize on jobs in the final stages,
— DGC Toronto
George Brown College
“Competing with educational institutions located on all five continents, George Brown College has secured first place for the second time in three years on a truly global stage,” commented mentor Gordon of Gordon+Gordon Group. “This is a remarkable feat.”
DGC Toronto began preparing for the global competition in the fall of 2019, when they took part in a similar simulation delivered as part of Dr. Elmira NezamiFar’s Construction Business Management and Entrepreneurship course at GBC. The top two teams from the internal competition were selected to participate in the CIOB Challenge. The simulation included a pre-competition trial round in February that was not scored and allowed participants to experiment further with the software.
More than 50 international teams from universities all over the world entered this year’s Global Student Challenge. In March and April the DGC Toronto team competed against the teams, finishing second in the six qualifying rounds that determine the best performing competitors who are chosen to go to the finals.
“Entering the finals, we didn’t have a clear idea of what to expect,” the email states. “One of the biggest challenges of the finals was when the market opened and we were bidding competitively against other teams. This made it harder to win work as it was difficult to judge how other teams would price. It became a constant juggle between forward workload, capital base and balancing our workforce.”
The greatest strength of the team was its ability to work individually yet co-ordinate efficiently when pulling everything together, they added.
“We trust in each others’ individual abilities to make decisions and feed off of each others’ strengths when we discuss the decisions as a group.
“We maximized our company’s opportunities during the early rounds of the competition, which allowed us to grow rapidly and take on more work. We made aggressive and calculated decisions that allowed us to capitalize on jobs in the final stages, and therefore enabled us to balance our turnover and forward workload efficiently. This rapid early growth helped us get on top of the market faster and carried us to victory.”
Other finalists included CIOBNB — Chongqing University; Base Build — RMIT University; Skywalker Construction — Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Sang Neggala — Universitas Indonesia; and Glasgow Construction Corp. — Glasgow Caledonian University.
The winning team receives £2000 (just over C$3,000) in prize money, along with access to a unique mentoring program with industry leaders offering advice and guidance to support their professional development.
“This experience has provided us with an insight into the operations and management side of a large construction company,” the team noted. “It has changed our perspective on business and how we look at the decisions we make on a daily basis. This experience has provided us a new outlook on how we want to shape and mold our own careers, and we believe it demonstrates our true potential as young professionals entering the construction industry.”
Entry for the 2021 challenge will open later this year.
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.