Two Mihaylo student-led business consulting teams took home national titles in the Small Business Institute Project of the Year Competition by scoring better than 125 other consulting projects.
Any college or university conducting student consulting projects was eligible to enter their projects in this national competition, which recognizes students for their work in consulting. The student consulting projects are semester-long assignments supervised by a professor and a coach from the professional world. For this contest, the deadline to submit an entry was October 1, 2013.
The first place team included Heather Castner ’13 (business administration), Kayla Donahue ’14 (entrepreneurship), Maxwell Lubliner ’13 (business marketing), Rex Noreen ’13 (entrepreneurship and women and gender studies), Erica Saunders ’14 (business marketing) and Zach Turner ’13 (business administration).
Professor David Leisbohn’s MBA team won second place in the graduate comprehension category with their consulting project for Loutech, a family-owned business located in Chino and well known for its expertise in machine components. Team members included MBA candidates Omar Besiso ’13, Simona Crisan ’13, Jennifer Davalos ’13, Erik Hayes ’13 and Silvia Liu ’13.
The students formed consulting teams and worked as apprentices for a local business and explored a case based on a real-life situation that the small business was facing. At the end of the fall semester, teams presented a strategy report outlining actions they think the client should implement. These reports regularly exceed 100 pages.
The winning Mihaylo team’s study was on the Ticket Group in Irvine, and they analyzed how this company should go about marketing their business. The Ticket Group is a website that helps people find tickets for concerts, theater and sporting events. Lubliner says he saw this project as a challenge and an opportunity to focus on practical business solutions.
“I think I was more excited about helping a small business rather than just getting a grade,” he says, and he considers this project the best school-related assignment a student can put on a resume or portfolio.
“This is a real-world opportunity with the possibility of getting truly beneficial results,” adds Saunders.
Donahue says their team was able to see the mistakes this company had made in the past, and it was great that their team had the opportunity to learn how to fix them.
“I think experiencing those mistakes and seeing how things can go wrong really teaches you either what not to do, or how to fix problems you could potentially run into when owning your own business,” says Donahue.
Donahue says she chose to major in entrepreneurship, because she was inspired by her father to someday own a business just like he does. Through this project, she was hoping to learn how to run a business that is not only successful financially but morally as well.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Noreen, who was previously a board member of the Entrepreneur Society and helped start the Choice USA chapter at Cal State Fullerton last semester. “I am applying the skills I learned in the program to my new job as a financial professional.”
A contributing factor to this team’s success was their ability to work well together with good communication. Castner was the team’s leader. She is currently enrolled in the Mihaylo MBA program. Castner has experience as a sales associate at Krypton Media Group and as a marketing consultant at Your Advantage Marketing.
“We didn’t have any group members who were difficult to contact or weren’t at least trying to do their work,” says Noreen. “We also had mentors who were excellent and never missed a meeting.”
Turner has aspirations to start a microbrewery. “I am very interested in starting my own business,” says Turner. “This program aligned perfectly with what I want to do.”
The project taught Turner the importance of teamwork and communication, he says, and suggests that this program is a great place to start if students have a business idea and are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to achieve their goals.
“The program will help build and create your own business plan as well as give you presentation experience with investors,” he says.
SBI is a nonprofit organization that relies on client fees, donations and community entrepreneurs. For more information on the student consulting program, contact Charlesetta Medina, case coordinator, at email@example.com or 657-278-8243.