The Collegian
Thursday, June 13, 2024

Business students compete in Strategic Innovation Challenge

University of Richmond students tried to outwit one another as they competed for $1,000 on Tuesday.

During a Strategic Innovation Challenge on Nov. 18, students were asked to come up with innovative solutions and recommendations for a company.

The students were all members of professor Doug Bosse's strategic management class. They worked on their presentations and an accompanying two-part paper throughout the semester.

"It's giving the students real-world experience with a real firm," Bosse said.

The teams had 10 to 12 minutes to present strategy plans to a group of executives from MPS Group, a professional staffing company.

"We didn't have things like this when I was a student ... We were so impressed with what you put together," Jennifer Dodges, managing editor of Accounting Principles, said to the teams before she announced the winners. Accounting Principles is a division of MPS Group.

The winning team answered questions and made recommendations to the company. The company was already taking action on some of the same recommendations based on its own research, Dodges said. The winning team was composed of seniors Antonio Guerra, David Berry, Lindsey Cardwell, Oliver TenHoeve and Mark Berajawala.

"We worked for a really long time," TenHoeve said. "We worked on it up until four minutes before we went on."

The teams were given information about MPS Group as well as a contact person in the company, said Scott Barnes, who competed in the competition. Teams also learned about the company from its Web site and online databases, Barnes said.

"We were given a small amount of information," Barnes said. "We had to apply theories to a company we knew little about."

This is the first year that Bosse had his strategic management students compete, but it was something he would like to see his future classes take part in, he said.

"Strategic Management is really unique because it takes in everything we've learned in our business classes," said Isaac Aaron, a senior who competed. "The project is a good way to apply those things and maybe strategically benefit a company."

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The judges were so impressed by another team that they decided to give a second-place prize.

"They gave a recommendation of potential expansion that we could look into," Dodges said. "For a student to come up with it was really impressive."

Members of the second-place team were seniors Blake Banks, Holly Pellum, Gian Marco Amadei and Matt Whittaker.

"It was definitely nice getting recognized for second place after all the work we did," Banks said.

Another challenge was that the company was doing well so it was hard to find financial data to support recommendations, Pellum said.

"It was a struggle in the beginning to find something to recommend to them," Pellum said.

The competition was funded by the Richmond chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, an organization for professionals involved in corporate growth and development.

"We have a responsibility to give back to future business leaders," said Mike Paulette, the managing director of Core Consulting, Inc., who is a board member for the Richmond chapter of ACG.

The Richmond chapter also gives scholarships to Richmond-area students, Paulette said.

"The competition was a real-life application," said Matt Cully, who competed. "It is what some business majors will do after they graduate."

Contact reporter Emma Anderson at emma.anderson@richmond.edu

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