Today: Jun 25, 2024

Southern business students third in contest

Photo courtesy
Standing from left to right: Peter Romas, secretary; Nicholas Gallicano; Marina Virgalla and Daniel Morales.
Seated from left to right: Dr. Ellen D. Durnin, Dean of School of Business; Emily Burkhardt, vice president; Cassandra Cortese, president; and Dr. Robert Forbus, advisor.


Southern students tied for third place out of 48 in the American Marketing Association’s 34th Annual international collegiate case competition.

“It was absolutely one of my proudest moments to come in third place, especially after working so hard on the case and for so long,” Cassandra Cortese, president of Southern’s Collegiate Chapter of the American Marketing Association, said. “We all had hopes of at least placing in the competition; we were pretty confident in our work.”

Cortese, a senior business administration major, said the case team came up with a product for Pearson Learning Solutions that would benefit high school students.

“The product is called ‘Prepare’ and it is going to be an online self-paced course for college-credit to help pre-college students prepare for college-level courses and to see if it is something they can handle or want to pursue,”

she said.

According to its website, “The American Marketing Association’s 2011-’12 Case Challenge requires teams to develop an integrated marketing communications plan for Pearson Learning Solution’s new service concept, Prepare, set to launch in fall 2012.”

Cortese said the team spent several months working on their plan; not only did they meet weekly to discuss the project, but they also worked on the project on their own.

“Our biggest setback was getting the research completed so it could be analyzed in enough time to complete the case,” she said. “We sent out 400 pencil-and-paper surveys to four high schools in different types of towns in Connecticut, and we only received data back from one cooperating high school, so gathering the data was very time consuming.”

Cortese also said sometimes at the team’s weekly meeting, they would get distracted.

“We developed strong friendships after spending so much time together,” she said, “so it was easy to get off topic.”

On Jan. 20, about a month after the competition deadline, the team found out their “Prepare” was one of the top-10 finalists, and they were asked to present their plan in New Orleans, La. in March. Cortese said the team’s presentation was 25 minutes long and judges questioned them for 10 minutes. Southern tied for third place with the University of Arizona.

According to the American Marketing Association’s website, winners of the competition received cash awards.

Southern’s AMA officers decided last summer at a retreat wanted to push itself by competing in the Pearson Learning Solutions competition, according to Cortese.

“Since our organization last year was so inexperienced and we didn’t accomplish a lot, we really wanted to take on a big challenge this year, especially since most of us that worked on the case are graduating in May,” she said.

Senior accounting major Nick Gallicano said he learned a lot from working on the project.

“I was brought in just to do the budget and a break even analysis,” he said. “As we progressed through the case study, I gained a tremendous amount of marketing knowledge and real world professional presentation skills.”

Cortese said the competition was a learning experience.

“Applying everything we have learned from our business classes so far to create a real marketing plan was the best lesson we could have been taught,” she said.

Cortese also said she was “grateful” the team placed in the competition.

“We knew the experience alone in participating and presenting at the conference would be amazing, but winning third was extraordinary,” Cortese said. “I was so happy and proud of our team, and we really felt that we represented Southern, our School of Business, and Dr. Forbus well.”

Robert Forbus, an associate professor of marketing, is also the adviser of Southern’s Collegiate Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

“We wouldn’t have been able to have made it this far without his knowledge, experience, and incredibly attention to detail,” Cortese said.

According to its website, “The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the professional association for individuals and organizations who are leading the practice, teaching, and development of marketing worldwide.”

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