The Art of the Pitch
Fifth-year business student Matthew Schoenmaker recently competed in the Great Canadian Sales Competition.
3 min. read
November 6, 2020

As one of the 19 finalists for this year’s Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC), Matthew Schoenmaker believes that Redeemer’s business department helped set him apart from the competition.

The GCSC is a way for students from all over Canada to use their business and sales skills to represent a company while competing against other contestants. Redeemer’s involvement started with Dr. Vahagn Asatryan, associate professor of business, hearing an ad on the radio. He reached out to the organization and was invited to attend the finale in Toronto the following year to learn more about the competition. When this year’s competition was about to start, Asatryan approached several students who had shown interest in sales and marketing.

“After Matthew expressed interest in participating, I coached him outside of class and I connected him with an experienced salesperson who could give him more insight and advice,” Asatryan commented.

Each contestant created a two-minute pitch that showcased their personality and ability to engage an audience. A quarter of the contestants advanced to the next round, where they would partner with a company. They were divided up into 19 groups and given a case study to analyze. After creating a pitch for their company, one student was chosen to represent each of the companies in the final round.

“The entire business faculty has done an amazing job preparing business students to think strategically: not only to identify problems, but to create solutions.”

The final round, which took place in September, was a live 10-minute sales meeting where Schoenmaker competed against the other 18 undergraduate and graduate students. He was chosen to represent Clearbanc, a Toronto-based growth capital firm. While he did not win the grand prize, he says it was an incredible opportunity to meet people in some well-known organizations.

Schoenmaker says he could not have made it so far without his experience in the business program. “The entire business faculty has done an amazing job preparing business students to think strategically: not only to identify problems, but to create solutions. Being a smaller university has allowed us to better our presentation skills in a greater number of scenarios. This definitely gave me an advantage.”

Asatryan also commented on how Redeemer’s size and environment allow opportunities for students to gain experience and learn skills that will be valuable when they leave university. He was able to reach out to Schoenmaker and others because of “the relational nature of business education at Redeemer.”

Mentors’ relationships are valuable in business and can provide important connections. Because Asatryan connected him with some experienced colleagues, Schoenmaker was able to receive more advice and guidance throughout the competition. “This competition allows you to meet some of Canada’s largest employers who are all interested in hiring the next generation of sales and business professionals. Dr. Asatryan also put me in touch with some amazing mentors along the way and I’m actually working in a co-op position with one of them now!”

Along with the relational atmosphere, Redeemer offers a Christ-centered education. Asatryan comments, “Teaching in the business program is guided by Christian principles of love-service, stewardship, and the virtues of justice, peace-making, joy, mercy and forgiveness – all these working together for human flourishing and to the glory of God.” In such a cut-throat world, these ideas can help separate an individual from the competition.

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