From Competitor to Coach: Sessional Instructor Nicole McCallum Relishes Role as Coach for Jeux du Commerce Central
For Marketing and Consumer Studies sessional instructor Nicole McCallum, the upcoming Jeux du Commerce Central (JDC Central or JDCC) competition will unite multiple parts of her life as an educator, entrepreneur and prior JDCC competitor. From January 24 to 26, the University of Guelph will welcome top business students from across Central and Atlantic Canada who will compete against each other in academic, debate, sport and social competitions, representing the different segments of university life.
This is the second year McCallum will be involved with the JDCC Guelph team in a coaching capacity, a responsibility complemented by her ability to relate to her students because of her own experience in the competition. “Teaching and learning is a two-way street,” she says. “Our students will never encounter a professional scenario with this level of pressure for such a high level of performance. As someone who has competed in JDCC and as their coach, I want to help them realize their potential.”
McCallum’s drive and enthusiasm for JDCC and her students’ success is obvious to anyone who meets her. It is no surprise that her entrepreneurial spirit has also led to her co-founding Green Rocket, an organization that works within the Waterloo Region to promote environmental responsibility. In addition to this work, McCallum has done freelance consulting with past clients including the World Bank and the Government of Guatemala.
Her ability to pursue these diverse interests involves qualities she recalls being central to her JDCC experience. “Competitors develop a number of individual and professional skills through JDCC,” she says. “They realize how to apply a diverse skill set to very complex problems, balance professionalism and lifestyle needs, appreciate the value of a team and understand real world pressures and tension.”
Preparation for the competition starts during the summer with an application and interview process, followed by tryouts. Successful students must enrol in MGMT 4350 – a case competition prep course sponsored by Scotiabank – and meet with faculty advisors and their team once a week. Also, prior to JDCC, all teams are required to raise funds and dedicate a minimum of 20 hours to volunteering for charity. The JDCC Guelph team, through MGMT 4350, has combined volunteering and preparation by connecting with community organizations and presenting solutions to issues they are encountering.
McCallum attests that the upcoming conference is an especially significant opportunity for the University of Guelph because of its role as host. “We have a great opportunity to leave our mark on JDCC this year,” she says. “Some of Canada’s best business students will be here experiencing our city and campus, in addition to the various JDCC competitions.”
Through this preparation for competition weekend, McCallum says she is seeing her students take great strides in increasing their confidence levels and developing professionalism. “I’ve seen their perception of their capacity improve and they are much more confident in presenting ideas and connecting details. They are also realizing the importance of overcoming conflict and nurturing their team as opposed to focusing solely on their individual skills.”
As U of G prepares to welcome JDC Central at the end of January, McCallum is preparing to experience the competition on the other side of the stage by watching her students compete after months of practicing, fundraising and volunteering. “This is such a great opportunity for our students, as well as our campus and community. As someone who works in the best interest of all of these beneficiaries, I’m looking forward to being a part of JDCC on home turf.”