Understanding the DECA Framework
What is DECA?
DECA is an international professional development organization. In Ontario, universities and colleges have DECA chapters, or groups of members under an executive team, on their campuses. These chapters fall under the provincial association, DECA U Ontario. This association in turn, falls under Collegiate DECA, the international association based in the USA.
DECA members come together for business case competitions and other professional development events.
What does a DECA competition consist of?
A DECA case is a written real-world case study. Students analyze such cases individually or in teams of two. Individuals have 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to present, while teams have 30 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to present. Competitive categories are many and varied, including subject areas such as: finance, retail, fashion, human resources, and management consulting, among numerous others. There are also several special categories, such as the jeopardy-style Quizbowl competition. For more information on these categories, see here.
Each case consists of a situation (e.g. a problem that a company is having) and the task that the competitor is to complete (i.e. develop a solution to the problem), defined by performance indicators. These indicators are mandatory points that the competitor must cover in their presentation. During the preparation period, participants read the case, plan out their solutions, and make notes. They then leave the case study itself and take only their notes into the presentation room. They then present in front of one or multiple judges, usually industry professionals. Judges and competitors have clearly defined roles in each case (e.g. the judge is the CEO of the company and the competitor is a marketing manager) and they must stay in character throughout the case presentation. The judge will begin by greeting the participant. The participant will then present their solution. The judge will then ask the participant 2-3 questions about their solution.
As part of the provincial competition, detailed below, participants must also complete an online multiple choice test in the area of business in which they are doing their case study.
What are the main DECA activities?
The DECA year begins with Fall Launch, the opening event hosted in downtown Toronto. It involves a professional development and social component, as well as a longer case study.
Each chapter organizes its own events, such as internal competitions, social events, and networking events. Many chapters organize invitational competitions, inviting other chapters to send representatives to compete on their campus.
Provincials (provincial competition) happens annually in January in downtown Toronto. All chapters from across Ontario and outside of it (due to recent expansion) come together to compete on a large scale.
ICDC (International Career Development Competition) is hosted annually in April in various locations in the USA. It is structured similarly to Provincials, including business cases and written tests as well as professional development events, but participants compete against DECA members from across the world.
Throughout the year, DECA U Ontario hosts various diversity events, such as women in business speaker series.