BKD has participated in the Wichita Corporate Challenge (WCC) since its inception in 2002, winning the overall games in 2018 and 2019. WCC, an Olympics-style event, includes an extensive number of sporting and leisure activities for companies to participate in as a team and compete against local organizations.
“WCC is historically won by large companies, like Bombardier and Koch Industries,” explains Matt Morris, a director in Wichita’s audit department. “To put together a winning team means being able to fill all events, which can be a challenge for a smaller company.”
Averaging 50 to 75 participants, BKD Wichita is placed in the small-company division, so winning back-to-back championships isn’t an accomplishment BKD takes lightly.
Team players committed to a common goal
Dodgeball, soccer, swimming, tug of war, billiards and track and field are only a few events represented at WCC. The team events, like flag football, basketball and softball, are some of Matt’s favorites. As a team player, he enjoys finding new ways to win as a group, no matter what the make-up of athletic ability is for a given year.
Like any team-building exercise, WCC provides the opportunity for teams to learn others’ strengths, express their own and navigate the best way to manage everyone’s skills for overall efficiency. But athletic ability is only part of a team’s success. Generating support and enthusiasm and having a voice for leading the team’s efforts are critical.
Matt, alongside Partner Michael Gerber, helped lead the office’s WCC initiative for more than a decade before passing the torch to Jared Jamis, a senior associate in the audit department, who has been the primary leader for the past three years. As the WCC coordinator for the office, Jared’s responsibilities include filling out the roster and acting as liaison between the WCC and the office.
“I’m also responsible for getting our office hyped up for the event, which doesn’t take much. I have a great group of BKDers who help me out throughout the entire competition,” says Jared.
Another prominent voice for WCC, Operations Manager Sandra Brown, encourages participation by focusing on the event’s nature of fun and friendly competition. She also assists the WCC coordinator with any available tasks.
“Once an employee participates, they’re eager for the games to roll around the next year, especially the team events,” she says.
Benefits beyond team bonding and physical well-being
BKDer Shawnell Linot helps the team place first in women’s basketball.
After his first event in 2006, Matt was hooked. It gave him the opportunity to establish new relationships and further strengthen existing ones. The games also encourage networking and community involvement and help foster a more rewarding work environment for employees and prospects. Many employees keep to their own departments during normal business hours, but participating in the WCC helps bridge those gaps throughout the office.
“My first event was a great experience and gave me the opportunity to meet BKDers outside my primary work area. Plus, I’ve created many friends at other companies we’ve competed with over the years,” says Matt. “It’s a great way to interact with others in the business community and the bonds you make from participating in the challenge are truly unique.”
Many WCC participants appreciate having company support for staying healthy and physically active. The same sentiment extends to prospects. Being involved in this event, Matt explains, “shows those outside BKD that we stay active and have an avenue to be competitive in ways outside of business.”
Fueled by a history of close victories
After losing to Koch Industries three years in a row, BKD’s Wichita team found a new level of determination and started placing a stronger emphasis on participation.
“We’ve had years where we’ve taken second place but could have won if we’d had participation in every event,” says Matt. “Those close victories have made it a priority to have 100 percent participation.”
The office has reached their participation goal for the past three years and, perhaps not coincidentally, won the event in two of those years. In 2019, BKD Wichita had first-place finishes in the 100-meter dash, relay runs and 5K races. They also took first in flag football, softball, dodgeball and men’s and women’s basketball.
Equally notable is BKD Kansas City’s 2019 Kansas City Corporate Challenge win. The Kansas City office won its division for the first time in more than a decade.
With these new wins under BKD’s belt, 2020 will be a year for defending titles.