CHAPTER DEVELOPMENT GUIDE
Understanding the ACE Framework
What is ACE?
ACE Canada is a professional development organization. In Canada, universities and colleges have ACE chapters, or groups of members under an executive team, on their campuses.
ACE members come together for business case competitions and other professional development events.
What does an ACE competition consist of?
An ACE case is a written real-world case study. Students analyze 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, law, human resources and management consulting, among numerous others. There are also several special categories, such as the debate 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 (e.g. develop a solution to the problem), defined by performance metrics. These metrics are required which the competitor must cover in their presentation. During the preparation period, participants read the case, plan out their solutions, and make notes. They present in front of 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 an employee/manager) and they must stay in character throughout the case presentation. The participant will then present their solution while the judge will be expected to question and grill the participant on their proposal/solution.
What are the main ACE activities?
The ACE year begins with Fall Launch, the opening event hosted in downtown Toronto. It involves professional development and a 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 campuses.
The Nationals happens annually in January in downtown Toronto. All chapters from across Canada come together to compete on a large scale.
Throughout the year, ACE Canada hosts various diversity events, such as the Women in Business Speaker Series.
Starting a New ACE Chapter
Getting your chapter off the ground is arguably the most difficult and important part of the process. Use the steps below to make your chapter an official entity within your university and ACE Canada.
Register your Chapter
Register your chapter as an official club with your university’s student association / federation / faculty. Once complete, chapters can be registered as an ACE Chapter by going to the President’s portal in the menu above.
Gather your Executive Team
More information on this can be
found in the below
Build your Chapter's Brand
Create your club website
(Squarespace & Wix) and build your social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Getting the Word Out
Advertise online and in person prior to the start of the school year and the official recruitment period. Consider sharing a simple Google form which students can use to register (name, year, program, contact information, etc.).
Recruit your Membership
Recruitment must officially begin as early as possible in September.
The deadline for students to register as members is November 1.
Registration is completed by selecting the portals on the menus above.
Building an Executive Team
As Chapter President, you need to surround yourself with strong, capable executive team members to ensure your chapter’s success. Continue reading for suggestions on how to select these individuals, as well as the various positions that should make up the executive team.
Example of Executive Positions
President / Co-Presidents
The President oversees all chapter matters, appoints the executive team, and mentors/assists all executives. They approve major chapter decisions and act as the point of contact between the chapter and the faculty/student association as well as the chapter and ACE Canada. The President ensures the executive team is on track in reference to its vision and goals.
Executive Vice President
An EVP is likely unnecessary if there is a co-presidency. Otherwise, the VP assists the President in carrying out their duties and can serve as the President’s proxy.
Vice President, Events
The VP of Events plans organizes and manages all events organized by the chapter, e.g. internal competition. They plan necessary materials, obtain speakers if necessary, and develop schedules. They can be assisted by a Director of Logistics.
Vice President, Internal
The VP Internal maintains all documents related to members and handles administrative matters such as booking rooms/equipment and taking meeting minutes. The VP Internal also handles the club’s email, sending out club-wide communication such as newsletters and responding to members’ inquiries.
Vice President, Academic
The VP Academic prepares and disseminates training materials for all members, holds training sessions, and acts as a judge for members during practice cases. They prepare cases for competitive events hosted by the chapter. This position is so robust in scope that it may be wise to have two individuals fulfilling it.
Vice President, Finance
The VP Finance provides monthly bank statements and reconciliations. He/she prepares the budget and ensures that the club does not exceed it. He/she withdraws funds when necessary, reimburses other executives, and prepares for regular audits.
Vice President, External
The VP External promotes the chapter over social media, maintaining and updating any relevant accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn). They assist in developing the club website and sponsorship package. They develop promotional campaigns and physical materials such as posters and decorations.
Vice President, Technology
The VP Technology creates and maintains the chapter’s website. They ensure that all tech equipment necessary is available for all events. They create media marketing materials and collaborate with the VP External to create appealing visuals and campaigns on the social media platforms the chapter is active on.
Vice President, Sponsorship
The VP Sponsorship contacts local businesses and corporations with the aim of securing sponsorship for the chapter (in-kind or monetary). The VP Sponsorship creates and updates the sponsorship package and maintains positive relationships with sponsors, inviting them to events and following up.
First Year Representative(s)
The First Year Representative is the liaison between the chapter and new university students, promoting the club to them and enticing them to register. They also assist all other executives when necessary.
Please note that the above position names are variable. Moreover, additional positions and duties can be added. It is also important to clarify the positions and the executives’ responsibilities as well as your chapter’s activities and rules in a constitution.
Executives should be selected via a formal application and interview process, detailed in “How To: Plan For Succession”. Throughout this process, they should be judged based on their relevant experience, perceived work ethic, dedication to ACE, professionalism, and how well they would be able to co-operate with you and the rest of the executive team. Consider creating a formal rubric to evaluate each candidate.
You will find below some tips on how best to manage your executive team from the moment it has been formed onwards:
Hold regular one-to-one meetings with each of your executives to ensure that they are on track, to share feedback, and to problem-solve together, if necessary.
Set clear expectations and deadlines from the start.
Hold regular in-person executive meetings to plan for upcoming events and ensure chapter operations are running smoothly. Determine a frequency that works for your chapter depending on the intensity of operations.
Hold regular executive social events to maintain group cohesion.
Promoting Your Chapter
Create a chapter website.
Squarespace and Wix are good options in terms of the platform to use. On your site, include an explanation of what ACE Canada is and what your chapter stands for (mission, vision, values, goals). Give an overview of the events your chapter organizes and participates in, as well as an overview of your executive team. Include contact information, as well as a registration form so that visitors can immediately reach out and/or sign up to join. Include attractive images. Ensure that your website is regularly updated with new events, programs, news, etc.
Create a Facebook page.
Include a concise description of what your chapter stands for. Develop a week-by-week promotion strategy for this platform, tailored to your chapter’s events and the time of the year. For instance, when the executive team is selected, you may wish to organize incremental reveals of the executive members and some information about them. If you are in the recruitment period, you may want to, at regular intervals, post a reason why students should join ACE. Ensure that your campaigns and posts are varied and engaging and that the frequency of posts is well thought out. Additionally, ensure that your executive team and members are sharing the page’s posts on their personal accounts.
Create other social media accounts.
Consider setting up a Twitter or Instagram page. As for Facebook, ensure you have a solid strategy planned out in advance, including posting frequency, purpose, and campaign themes. Cross-promote these platforms by sharing links to them on your pre-established accounts.
Connect with faculty/admin
Connections within faculty/admin can help you find new, effective methods of promotion. Perhaps your school has screens around campus that you could get ACE images on. Perhaps your chapter could have an ad in your business faculty’s physical or email newsletter.
Attend school events
In-person promotion is crucial. Set up booths on campus during your school’s new student orientation and clubs days/weeks. Hand out physical promotional materials at your booth and make it as interactive as possible (e.g. include a game that passersby can play to win small prizes). Have ACE representatives attend networking events, particularly at the start of the year, to speak about ACE, give out promotional materials/business cards, and recruit new members.
Engage in physical promotion
At the start of the year in particular, hang up posters in key locations on campus. Ensure that they are in color, visually appealing, and are not overcrowded with text but contain the key information (what is your club, how students can join, how they can contact you). Make sure that you comply with your faculty/university rules regarding physical promotion.
Conduct information sessions and classroom presentations
At the start of the year, encourage potential new joiners to attend an information session. During this session, consider presenting a slideshow to complement your verbal explanation. Make your session as interactive as possible and try not to exceed approximately half an hour so as not to lose attendees’ attention. The purpose of the session is to go into more detail regarding the club experience, the plan for the year, the benefits of joining, and the concrete steps to do so. The session should end in a concrete call to action, i.e. students can sign up on the spot. To conduct a classroom presentation, email professors to ask for permission in advance. Take 1-3 minutes at the start of the class to briefly explain what ACE is and why students should join. Invite them to an information session and leave contact information on the board/on physical promotional materials at the front of the room.
Organizing Internal Competitions
An internal competition mimics Provincials and Invitationals, but on a much smaller scale. It allows your members to prepare for larger competitions and put their skills to the test in a more comfortable setting.
Selecting a Date
Choose a date that does not coincide with any of your university’s major events, any ACE Canada events, or any Invitationals.
Book rooms on campus. Consider the projected number of attendees. It is likely that you will need at least 3 rooms: 1 for case preparation, 1 for case presentation, and 1 for attendees to wait in/ for guest speakers to present in, if applicable.
Secure judges. These can be current
or former executives, ACE alumni, professors, TAs, etc.
Contact potential guest speakers to
run relevant workshops. Ideally, these
should be industry professionals who
can run workshops on pertinent topics such as presentation skills, career building, specific business fields (e.g. entrepreneurship, international business), etc.
Promotion of Event
Promote the event to your members, sharing a registration sheet with them and creating a Facebook event.
Set a registration deadline.
Create a detailed, minute-by-minute schedule of the day. Include where each executive will be and what they will be doing at each point in the day. Begin with registration, where people can sign in and take their name tags. An opening ceremony should follow, with a speech by the President. Next, case preparation and presentation should begin, with small groups of individuals going to prepare at each time slot. Each individual/team should have a specific time slot indicated on their name tag. Guest speaker presentations can run concurrently to the case preparation/presentations or can be saved for after the cases. Allot enough time for lunch. End the day off with awards and closing ceremonies.
Shopping for Supplies
Make a list of all supplies and equipment you will need, who will procure them, and when. Consider food, drinks, decorations, prizes/certificates, judge/speaker gifts, etc. Before purchasing anything, refer to your budget and ensure you are within its limits.
During & Post-Event
Set up your rooms the night before or early on the morning of the event.
Following Up with Stakeholders
After the event, follow up with sponsors, speakers, and judges to thank them for their time. Also, conduct an evaluation of the event to determine how you can improve for the next time you run such an event. You can also seek feedback directly from participants.
Training Your Members
Develop a training plan (done by VP Academic and approved by President) prior to the start of the school year.
In-person training sessions should be held weekly by the VP Academics. Other executives should assist in these sessions. One option is to have each executive specialize in a given competitive category.
Use the resources in the Google drive folder shared with you by the ACE Canada Board of Directors.
Explain the structure of a case to the members, the timing, as well as the importance of required metrics. You may find it useful to review some key business concepts, particularly if you have many first-year students or non-business students in your chapter.
Consider going through the analysis/preparation of a case together as a group.
Divide members into groups, time their preparation, and have them present cases to each other/executives who act as judges.
Consider providing one-on-one training sessions, during which teams/individuals prepare and present a case to an executive judge under conditions as similar as possible to those at Provincials.
Emphasize the importance of reading through the list of metrics for the category one is competing in and making notes in particular for the ones that one is not familiar with (key terms, business concepts).
Setting a minimum number of practice cases to be completed by a certain deadline could be effective in ensuring that members are prepared well in advance of Nationals.
Consider creating an online training manual with case tips and tricks as well as review material from training sessions that can be disseminated to members.
Communicating With Your Chapter
Regular emails are usually an effective way of updating your chapter on club business and reminding members of any upcoming deadlines. Be sure to collect members’ emails when they initially register and to ensure that they check their email regularly for communication from you. You can also create an electronic newsletter.
Create a closed Facebook group for your chapter. This is a good forum for quick updates and reminders.
Create Facebook events for any upcoming chapter events.
Consider how often you would like to bring your chapter together face-to-face (i.e. via general meetings). It is a good idea to have an opening meeting at the start of the year, bringing the entire chapter together before the start of regular operations. Announcements can also be made in person at the start of training sessions.
Instructional videos are a good option when you need to teach your chapter how to do something.
Consider the platform you will use. For instance, Facebook messenger/groups are often used but Slack is another option that may include less external distractions.
Create a shared Google drive to jointly edit documents.
All executives’ should have each others’ cell phone numbers to reach each other quickly if necessary.
It may be necessary to mandate or recommend an acceptable response time to ensure effective communication.
Securing Sponsors & Partners
Create a sponsorship package as soon as the executive team is formed. The package should be in color and should include visually appealing images representing your chapter (logo, images of past events, and head shots of relevant executives ex.– e.g Director of Sponsorship). The package must outline how a partnership with your chapter is beneficial for a potential sponsor; m. Make sure you include statistics about how many delegates your chapter has, as well as their programs of study, and other pertinent information that will help illustrate why a partnership with your chapter will bring value to the prospective sponsor. Outline in detail the various sponsorship levels, which should increase in size incrementally, and the benefits associated with each level.
Get your sponsorship package approved by your university/faculty through the appropriate channels.
Create a list of companies to target for sponsorship. Start with companies where you have personal contacts with, either through the executive team or outside contacts.
Include companies from the fields that ACE educates from; these companies have the most to gain from entering a partnership with your chapter. Refrain from reaching out to every company you see, and instead focus your efforts on companies that you truly think will add value to your event.
Create an email template for sponsorship emails, but keep in mind that this is just a framework – tailor and personalize each email to the company you are contacting.
Start contacting sponsors via email as soon as your sponsorship package is approved. Leverage executives’ personal networks. Aim to make the communication as personal as possible, leading up to an in-person meeting.
Track all communication with potential sponsors in a tracking sheet including the date, type of communication sent, result, etc. Consider using an online tool such as Hubspot for tracking purposes.
Leverage your school/business faculty. Many opportunities for club sponsorship may be available – you just have to apply for them!
Didn’t receive a reply? No worries! We recommend following up your initial email with a follow-up email if someone/an organization hasn’t replied. Briefly rehash the main idea of your initial and mention that you had reached out before and wanted to ensure that your email wasn’t misplaced.
Note: Your initial emails should be concise and clearly outline the benefits of sponsoring your chapter. Be clear about what you would like to obtain (i.e.e.g where is the money going? What will you be able to achieve with it? It would be good to mention specific events your chapter is organizing) and what you can offer in return. Address the email to a specific person (do your research!) and be professional (formal business communication).
End with a thank you and a call to action.
Email Templates (change as necessary to suit your own chapter’s needs)
Sample Initial Email
My name is [First Name], and I’m reaching out to you on behalf of [Chapter Name], a chapter a part of Canada’s largest business undergraduate association, to express an interest in forming a partnership with your organization!
[Explain event that you’re hosting, what kind of delegates will be there, quality and demographic of the delegates, leverage their programs depending on the sponsor you’re reaching out to (no more than 25-50 words)]
If you are interested in this opportunity, I’m happy to talk further and provide your organization with our partnership package which outlines our commitment to our partners, and the types of opportunities we offer. If you have any questions at all or want to learn more about being a partner of [Chapter Name], don’t hesitate to contact me and I will help in any way I can.
I look forward to hearing from you!
[Full Name and have nice contact info and signature]
Sample Follow-Up Email
I recently reached out to you regarding a potential partnership between [Company] and [Chapter] and I’m writing again to follow up on this unique opportunity for your organization.
[Summarize event that you’re hosting, what kind of delegates will be there, quality and demographic of the delegates, leverage their programs depending on the sponsor you’re reaching out to (no more than 25 words)]
You can find our official partnerships package [attached or send them a link]. This document outlines the various tiers of sponsorship available, as well as the accompanying benefits to your organization.
As always, please feel free to contact me regarding any questions.
Alternatively, we can arrange a phone call at a convenient time for you.
I look forward to your response, and I hope to welcome you as part of our event this year!
[Full Name and have nice contact info and signature]
Keeping Your Chapter Engaged
Develop an incentive/rewards program, e.g. Member of the Month award. Teach your executives to verbally recognize involvement, e.g. congratulate members who take the initiative to participate in extra training sessions.
Host regular social events that do not have anything to do with studying/competition.
Initiate a mentorship program. Old members can act as mentors for new members, helping them get settled in the club, meet other members, and prepare for competition.
Consider hosting a chapter retreat, i.e. going on a trip together.
Organize events that are not competitive, e.g. speaker series, networking events.
Order swag for your chapter (e.g. sweaters, hats, t-shirts, etc. with your club logo).
Get involved in your school and wider community. Volunteering and/or raising money for a charitable cause will bring your members closer together.
Have clear job descriptions prepared and adjust them based on the chapter’s functioning during the year, if necessary. These job descriptions should be in your chapter’s constitution and in the application package you send out to your chapter.
Planning for Executive Succession
As President, you should mentor your executives throughout the year, not only when it comes time to find your successor. Encourage them to take initiative, and show what they are capable of as leaders.
Do not hesitate to privately speak with an executive to encourage them to run for the position of President. It’s not about favouritism – sometimes, people just need a little encouragement to take the risk and apply for such an important position!
Develop the presidential application. Include questions about the candidate’s plans for the following year, their motivation to run for President, their accomplishments and overall ACE experience this year, etc.
For some chapters, only executives may be allowed to run for the position of President, whereas in others, any member might be eligible. Whatever the case, send out the application well before the end of the school year. For instance, if exams are in April and your ACE chapter runs on the school year (not calendar year), you may want to send out the presidential application before the end of February.
Give applicants around 2 weeks to apply and give them ample reminders.
Applications should be submitted directly to you (the outgoing President)
Procedures will vary by chapter, but an example of the next steps is an application review by you (the outgoing President), followed by a panel interview of each candidate, with the panel consisting of you and any outgoing executives who did not run for President. The panel interviews would then culminate in a vote for the optimal candidate.
Once the new President is selected, he/she should develop the executive application package, adding/changing to the previous year’s package as he/she sees fit. Ideally, the outgoing President should be heavily consulted during this process. The package should include a detailed description of the responsibilities associated with each position as well as relevant questions to ascertain an individual’s suitability for a given position. It is a good idea to allow individuals to rank their top 3 choices of position instead of applying for a single position.
Send out the executive application package to your entire chapter (and promote it via channels with wider reach if your chapter allows non-ACE members to apply for executive positions). Give candidates about 2 weeks to apply.
The incoming and outgoing Presidents should then interview candidates.
The entire executive team should be selected and introduced to the chapter before the start of exams. Many chapters have an end-of-year event at which this can formally occur.
Organize meetings between the incoming and outgoing executive team to transfer knowledge. Outgoing executives can also create written transition documents with role-specific reminders, tips and tricks for their successors.
Role of Outgoing Presidents
The outgoing President can assist the chapter the year after their presidency in the role of advisor, whether formal or informal.