Updated: May 30, 2021
Hello! My name is Amber, and I'm a grade 10 student at Unionville High School. I had a great time at my first NHBC. I expected to be out of my depth, since I knew next to nothing about business, but I found that the environment was quite accommodating to everyone.
I was pretty intimidated by the event and its description before attending. It seemed like a completely alien atmosphere to me—everything seemed to have some measure of "business" injected into it. After joining the Discord server and getting to talk to the other contestants, though, my fears were quickly assuaged.
Prior to Mark Grenon's presentation, I had no idea that forensic accounting was even a thing. I found his anecdotes detailing the process of identifying fraud fascinating, and later went through the same process with a team during the CPA Ontario challenge. I'd honestly expected accounting to be dull, repetitive work, but it was insane to know just how important those skills were in legal procedures.
Jodi Buckley's presentation on CPA was also an eye-opener for me: I'd never realized how important the learning skills we'd been graded on since elementary school were! I found the emphasis on "you can't just be carried by your academic achievement alone" to be quite helpful, as someone who does focus on grades a lot. The idea that you could be turned away from a job just because certain skills (like communication, leadership, and self-presentation) weren't well-developed enough was very sobering to know.
The post-secondary panel Q&A was something I found really valuable, as someone who overthinks a lot when it comes to post-secondary education and beyond. I'd already heard advice from other students currently in college and university, but hearing that the advice I'd heard then was widely applicable even in other fields and schools was comforting.
I found the collaborative element of the CPA Ontario challenge to be pretty fun, as we bounced ideas off each other and went through suspicious expenses. Unfortunately, there were only three people in our team, and we didn't discover the existence of the receipts until there were twenty minutes left. We ended up presenting a haphazard collection of slides with only two people with barely any time left. Getting to see the winning teams' work was inspiring, as I realized how much information and analytic work went into solving a case like this. The ability to build personality profiles, make graphs, and explore individual motivations, as well as communicate it effectively in a limited timespan was something I admired a lot.
Besides being a great introduction to business, NHBC also introduced me to other like-minded people my age. I had a great time getting to know other contestants, and made a lot of new connections overall. I was initially scared that it would be overly-formal and that everyone else would be far ahead of me in terms of business knowledge, but seeing other people express difficulty and learn was comforting.
I do wish we could've had the opportunity to look more at business with real-world professional insight, following in the footsteps of Grenon's fantastic presentation. The workshops—although engaging and interesting in their own right—were not as business-oriented as I'd expected them to be. Nevertheless, I don't regret the time I spent there—mental fitness and the CPA were both great topics to learn more about.
Overall, NHBC was an incredible first look into the world of business and finance, and I can't believe how much I learned in just a single day. Congratulations to everyone who spent sleepless nights organizing an event as comprehensive and educational as this one. I hope I'll be fortunate enough to come across similar events in the future!