Students take their learnings to the Bank

Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A group of people pose in front of a set of stairs.

The uOttawa Governor's Challenge team (from left): Nico Palesch, Faculty adviser Lilia Karnizova, James Bertram Foster, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, Jaime Casigay, Diva Astinova, Raymond-Elias Rizk. Photo: Bank of Canada.

By Brandon Gillet

Five uOttawa students pit their financial wits against four other qualifying teams in the third annual Bank of Canada Governor’s Challenge on February 10.

Their task: to come up with a recommendation to keep the bank’s key policy interest rate in line with the 2% inflation target.

“Monetary policy in Canada is made by consensus and I was particularly impressed by the evidence of strong teamwork across all five teams,” said Sylvain Leduc, a deputy governor of the central bank. He helped judge the final round, which was won by Wilfrid Laurier University.

“The Governor’s Challenge is a competition between teams of undergraduate students to see who can — in a 15-minute presentation and 15-minute Q&A — deliver the best monetary policy recommendation on interest rates,” says fourth year University of Ottawa student Nico Palesch.

The uOttawa team worked on its presentation all last fall, before going up against 24 other university teams from across Canada at the first round, conducted via video conferencing in November.

“During this process, students develop and apply various skills, including data analysis, analytical thinking, creativity and teamwork,” says faculty adviser Lilia Karnizova. “Applying those skills goes well beyond the traditional classroom environment.”

Palesch agrees that the competition “helps us take theoretical concepts we learn about in class and apply them in a real world setting to real world data.”

Talented team

Karnizova points out that the first-round results speak for themselves. “Winning one of the four regional groupings provides an external validation that our program offers top-quality education and attracts very talented students,” she says.

While the team’s presentation at the first round received positive feedback, the judges also offered advice on how it could be improved. As they prepared for the final round, the students took that advice on board, along with Karnizova’s invaluable guidance, Palesch says.

The uOttawa team experienced a fairly high turnover rate. Participants came and went — including one person who left to take a job with the Bank of Canada.

The final round took place at the Bank, after which students had the opportunity to meet Governor Stephen Poloz and Deputy Governors Sylvain Leduc and Lawrence Schembri.

Nico Palesch gives a presentation as part of the Governor's Challenge at the Bank of Canada on Feb. 10. Photo: Bank of Canada

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