Celine Shen, a first year marketing management student at BCIT, was one of the finalists for the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC), one of the country’s biggest contests. In its third year, BCIT students are known for being strong contenders of the GCSC. I got a chance to speak with Celine about her experiences, and what advice she has for students interested in entering next year.

What was your proposal for the sales competition?

In the first round we were able to pitch anything we were passionate about. I chose napping. In the second round, the semifinalists were given a mentor, and I was assigned to Corus Entertainment. And that’s also the company you pitch for when you go to Toronto.
In your first pitch, why did you choose to talk about napping?
I thought it would be kinda funny at first. As I started thinking of more points to support it, it actually became something that I could relate to and I thought other people could as well. Altogether, it became a pitch with good points. It came out better than I expected.

What initially inspired you to enter into the sales competition?

The winner last year was from BCIT. When I saw what the whole concept was, I thought, “I could definitely do a video, so why not give it a shot?” I wanted to do something in my first year to push myself.

How did you feel when you heard that you made it to the second round?

It was an email saying that I made it. I was feeling pretty good, because from what I heard, the first round was easier than the second. I knew that if I tried harder, I could become a finalist. But the second round was a lot harder. You’re given a case from the company you’re assigned, and you have to make it your own and do your own research, because that’s what’s going to make you stand out. I had never done anything like this before. My case was pretty complicated, and there was a lot of information thrown at me. I was confused about where to start. It came down to formatting it the way you want. Each person is different, and I think that every person that I met in the finals did something different in their video, and that’s what made them stand out.

What was your case?

Corus is a huge player in the media industry. They get a lot of their revenue from advertising because they have so many channels. I was to pretend that I work for Corus, and pitch to a sunscreen company. The sunscreen company is targeting moms, and they’re deciding on how they want to execute their campaign. It wasn’t a tangible product, but it was related to what I study at BCIT, as it’s about marketing and I wanted to go into communications. So I was lucky that it was something I was passionate about.

Watch the video that won Celine a trip to Toronto!

How did you end up pitching it in Toronto?

We were assigned a coach in Toronto. They were from our sponsored company, and going to help us structure our pitch. We pretty much had to come up with a sales presentation that we were going to share with the judges in Toronto. We were learning how to build rapport, ask questions, handle objections, and those were the things the judges were going to look for. For our coaches, we were able to talk with them on the phone, but none of us were able to meet them until we got to Toronto, which was a little stressful. Then we had some time to prepare, then it was go-time.

How did it feel like in Toronto? Was it your first time there?

Ya, I was super excited. I’ve actually never been to the east coast, so I absolutely loved it. It was a great experience meeting everyone there. I got to see all the opportunities that were in Toronto. It’s actually one of my goals now to move over there.

Why would you move to Toronto instead of stay in Vancouver?

Well, I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve always wanted to try something new. Once I actually got there, I felt that… It was very lively in the city. People were so driven. It was very busy, and hustle and bustle, which I like. I think if you want more opportunities, they have more variety there right now. I don’t know… maybe Vancouver will be an option one day. But I really want to try Toronto right now.

Now that you’re back, how do you think the competition influenced your mindset on school and your career?

I think it’s really opened my eyes to the industry. Being there, it made me realize that I’m only graduating in a year, and I’m going to have to work with these people. It made me want to keep going and work hard in school because there’s no time to f*** up at BCIT. It made me realize that so far what I’m doing is leading me in the right direction.

What made you initially decide you want to do a career in business and communications?

I was actually so confused about what I wanted to do in school after high school. So I just went to Langara. I took some courses because I felt I had to go to school. In my first semester, I only took arts related courses. And I realized I didn’t really like it at all. In my second semester, I decided to try new things. So I took statistics and an intro to marketing class. It was in that class that I fell in love with marketing. Before then, I never knew how complex it was, and I realized that I wanted a program that would help me find a career and not be four years. I wanted something quicker, which is how BCIT came in the picture.

What tips would you give someone interested in entering this next year?

I would say definitely go for it, even if you’re only remotely interested. This is my first time in a business competition, and to think that I even made it to the finals is crazy. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose by trying. If anything, you can only gain experience and you’ll learn more about what you like, and whether you should try something else. If you never give it a shot, then you’ll never know. I think doing this when you first hear about it is so much better, because it might be so much harder next year.

What else do you like to do in your free time?

I don’t have much free time these days *laughs*. I do like to travel, when I have time, and just spend time with friends and family. I also like to snowboard.

Watch Celine’s semi-final pitch!