Students pose with company executives

Students present digital engagement strategies and social media trends to McCormick & Co. for fall case competition

This past December, ten teams and 48 students participated in the Department of Management’s Fall 2022 Live Strategy Case Competition sponsored by McCormick & Company. The McCormick & Co. judges named three winning teams. Students from the winning teams received monetary scholarships for their innovative strategies.

The sponsoring company presented students with a case study about digital engagement, popular culture and social media trends. The case challenged students to “capitalize on consumer trends and develop a digital engagement strategy that further engages the consumers and enhances McCormick’s brand presence and engagement.”

Taking first place in the competition was Team CASIS, a five-member team including Amanda Lien, Clarence Smalley, Ian Harvey-Thomas, Sierra Silkman and Samantha DeLeon.

Students pose with company executives
Members from the first place team, Team Casis, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

In second place came The McCormick Club, a five-member team including Carly DiGiacomo, Noah Hagan, Hamza Mushtaq, Richard Slemaker and Taran Thielmann.

Digital Enablers won third place with members Dylan Mayer, Sam Ray and Nicholas Wynn.

The first-place team, Team CASIS, was made up of students from a variety of majors allowing them to draw insight from several disciplines. When asked about the team’s winning strategy, Sierra Silkman their professor, Dr. Koushikee Dutta, for her help with preparing the team for success. “Dr. Dutta [taught us how] to do a comprehensive analysis of the company including internal, external and financial analysis. We used that information to come up with a strategy that we thought would be representative of the company… making sure we hit on all their key strengths.”

Members from the second place team, Team, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

Each semester, the upper-level MNGT 481 Strategic Management course offers students the opportunity to compete in the Live Strategy Case Competition to test the knowledge and skills they have gained during the class and throughout their academic careers. It is an excellent opportunity for students to practice presentation skills in a real-world environment, as well as allowing students to network with businesses local to the Towson area.

“This event is not only high impact, experiential, and an amazing learning experience for our graduating students, but it also highlights the best and the brightest in our college marking the beginning of the journey into their professional careers,” Dr. Filiz Tabak said. “None of this could have been possible without the participation of McCormick. We are very grateful to McCormick top executives for their time throughout the semester.”

In total, 310 students across 10 sections of the MNGT 481 capstone course worked on the McCormick case. Students across all sections are divided into teams and given the duration of the semester to research and prepare a written report and presentation. Teams present to their classes and the winning team from each class section goes on to present their case to executives from the sponsoring company.

Members from the third place team, Digital Enablers, pose with McCormick & Co. executives and CBE faculty.

Three McCormick & Co. executives participated in the competition as judges and provided students with invaluable feedback and a plethora of thoughtful questions. “We valued and enjoyed our time supporting TU’s Live Strategy Case Competition,” said Ryan Charlier, McCormick & Company’s Vice President of Finance. “The energy and the thought the students brought to their recommendations was evident in their presentations and provided a great perspective into the minds of one our important and growing consumer bases.”

Senior Genevieve Tchoubfong, a Business Administration major with a concentration in Human Resource Management, presents her team’s case to the McCormick & Co. judges.

When asked what advice they would give to future participants of the Live Strategy Case Competition, members from the first-place team shared two key tips: know your material and have fun.

“You’re here for a reason,” Ian Harvey-Thomas said. “They value you as much as you value them. Knowing your material is all you need. This is your strategy, your research. You know it.”

“The key is having fun,” Sierra added. “We’re very diverse, which helped our team. We had all different majors that came together so we came at it with different perspectives. We have diverse backgrounds as individuals–athletes, people working full time, different personalities. We were able to mesh well, and we worked hard. It was a lot of fun.”

Interested in learning more about or becoming a sponsor for the Department of Management’s Live Strategy Case Competition? Visit our website for more information.

Students pose in professional attire

Eighth annual strategic sales competition provides students with real-world sales experience

On November 18, 2022, the Department of Marketing at Towson University held its 8th Annual Strategic Sales Competition. Nearly 60 students and 44 representatives from 13 corporate partners gathered to participate in the competition. Advance Business Systems, the platinum corporate sponsor for this year’s event, tasked the students with selling a package of various IT services offered by their company and served as “buyers” for the competition.

Representatives from Northwestern Mutual, United Electric Supply, Sherwin-Williams, Lower, MDP, Insight Global, Contour Mortgage, Enterprise, ADP, Chesapeake Plywood, Cvent, memoryBlue, and Stanley Black & Decker served as judges for the competition. Among the group of judges were several alumni including Kevin Carr ’87 (Cvent), Hailey Hardesty ‘19 (Enterprise), Alex Parker ’20 (Northwestern Mutual) and Joe Richardson ’98 (Stanley Black & Decker).

The Sales Competition is a great experience for students to gain hands on sales experience, as well as providing them with the opportunity to network with business professionals from the Towson area. Students from any major and class are welcome to participate, but students in MKTG 452 participate as part of their course.

“The Strategic Sales Competition provides the perfect environment to gather our best students and a large group of representatives of the regional business community. It is the perfect setting – the companies are looking to hire fresh talent and the students are looking for their first job after college,” Dr. Plamen Peev, professor of marketing and organizer of the competition, said. “The event grows every year and hopefully it will help elevate our sales program to where in the next few years we should be able to offer a sales certificate to TU students and establish a sales center within the College of Business and Economics,” he added.

In preparation for the competition, students were asked to develop a sales pitch for a potential buyer. During the competition, students enter a room with one buyer, introduce themselves, and then have 15 minutes to deliver their sales pitch.

When asked about how she prepared for the competition, first place winner Carly Lobus emphasized preparation and rehearsal. “You never know when you’re prepared enough, you never know when to stop,” she said. “My best advice is to practice with somebody, but don’t be too rehearsed.”

Students pose in professional attire
The top three competition winners. From left to right: Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

To replicate a “real-world” environment, the judges view the performances from a live stream in another room. From there they can evaluate students’ performances based on their delivery, tactics and ability to address the buyers’ concerns.

Olivia Bushong, Towson University Class of 2015. Photo: LinkedIn.
Woman poses in professional attire
Hayley Beddard, Towson University Class of 2020. Photo: LinkedIn.

Advance is home to several Towson University alumni who represented the company during the competition as buyers. Hayley Beddard ’20, an account sales representative for Advance since June 2022, praised the students for their tenacity and hard work. “I think [the competition] just gives them good real-world experience and helps build some confidence, she said. “I know when I did it myself it was really nerve-wracking, and it took a lot of courage to do it.” Hayley graduated from Towson University in 2020 with a degree in business administration. Olivia Bushong ’15 joined Advance’s marketing and communications team immediately after graduating from Towson University with a degree in mass communications.

The judges selected eight winning students:

  1. Carly Lobus, Senior, Mass Communications
  2. Ayden Schnitzer, Senior, Business Administration, Management Concentration (Leadership & Management)
  3. Haley Haggerty, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  4. Ryan Hashim, Senior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  5. Alicia Anthony, Junior, Mass Communications, Marketing Minor
  6. Josh Munley, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  7. Hannah Herman, Junior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
  8. Ellie Pikulsky, Senior, Business Administration, Marketing Concentration
Students pose with their winning certificates
The eight winning students pose (from left to right) with Jeff Elkin, President of Advance Business Systems; Dr. Erin Steffes, Chair of the Department of Marketing; Dr. Judy Harris, Interim Dean of the College of Business and Economics; and Professor Plamen Peev, professor of marketing. The winning students featured center (from left to right) include: Ellie Pikulsky (8th place), Hannah Herman (7th place), Alicia Anthony (5th place), Ryan Hashim (4th place), Haley Haggerty (3rd place), Ayden Schnitzer (2nd place), and Carly Lobus (1st place).

Jeff Elkin, president of Advance, commended the students for their preparation and the quality of their pitches. “We thought the presentations were terrific. Students were clearly very prepared for it and had great training. We were very impressed,” he said. “My advice for future students is to prepare. Know the product. And be yourself.”

All eight winning students received scholarships up to $1,500 for their success in the competition. The top 5 students were also invited to represent Towson University at the National Shore Sales Challenge to be held at Salisbury University this spring.

For more information about the TU Strategic Sales Competition, please visit our website.