Business students take grand prize in regional contest sponsored by Walmart
It is one thing to learn about retailing concepts in class but when students get to apply classroom knowledge to a real situation, a higher level of learning can be achieved. On Apr. 19, 2012, the Center for Retailing Solutions (CRS), in conjunction with Walmart, sponsored the Walmart Collegiate Challenge in which teams from area colleges competed in a retail business plan competition held at Kutztown University. Penn State Lehigh Valley students were excited to take home two trophies, including the grand prize and second runner-up.
The contest tasked students to submit business plans to improve Walmart’s Customer Experience Scores for the Southeastern Pa. market. The Penn State Lehigh Valley teams developed plans during the semester and presented them to judges, including CRS and Walmart executives, during the event.
"The presentation itself was somewhat intimidating. We were on-stage in front of not just the judges but a large audience, and the judges grilled us with questions after our presentation," said Sandy DeLeon, a senior business major from Allentown and member of the grand prize-winning team. "The whole experience was so worthwhile. To have all the hard work we did throughout the semester validated by real business professionals was an amazing feeling."
Their mentor and adviser was Denise T. Ogden, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at Penn State Lehigh Valley, who held a class competition to determine the two teams that would compete at the regional event.
"I was so proud of the students and their professionalism," said Ogden. "The judges said that they forgot my teams were students and felt like they were real consultants!"
Judge and competition sponsor Tim Smyer, Walmart market manager, said, "We think presenting students with real business problems and having them develop solutions to those problems will help them bridge the gap between academics and the business world."
The judging panel praised the grand prize team, who dubbed themselves "The Nittany Group," for their professional dress and appearance, their research and knowledge of the Walmart brand, their eye contact with the panel, and the style and technology used to deliver their presentation.