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College of Business Students Win Major Awards at Marketing Competition

Published November 25, 2013

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Students from Eastern Michigan University's College of Business won first and third place at the Kohl's Marketing Challenge at the 6th annual American Marketing Association regional conference.

The marketing competition, which was held at the University of Wisconsin late last month, attracted approximately 300 students–nine of which were EMU marketing majors–from 20 schools, including North Carolina State and California State University, Chico.

"EMU marketing students stack up very well against students from other universities. I'm very proud of their win," says David Marold, EMU marketing professor and faculty adviser.

At the competition, the teams of students studied the Kohl's customer loyalty program and its competitors, and then offered advice for improvement. After submitting a two-page strategic plan, the top five teams selected completed a ten-minute presentation based on their recommendations.

Coming in at first place and winning $500 was the team of Darcie Cordes, Rafael Kronenberg and Jannell Whitted.

"It's an amazing feeling to have taken first place in the competition," Whitted says. "It almost came as a surprise because there were so many other great teams competing, and they all looked really confident after they presented. But we put our best foot forward and we won!"

The team of Katherine Chapman, Tyler Connell, Ryan McFarland and Leigh Sutter took third place and won $200. Also participating in the competition was Sarah Bayles and Lindsey Gothard.

The competition was designed to help prepare students for the real world of marketing. Each team was given a certain amount of time to read over the information for the challenge, and only two hours to form their presentations.

"Our team was thrown into room in front of eight judges that actually worked for Kohl's," Chapman says. "It was just like a real-life setting, where the four of us had to not only sell ourselves but our ideas to real people."

Aside from the competition, students had the opportunity to interact directly with marketing leaders at various companies, including Target and Kohl's, as they spoke about their marketing operations.

"There was plenty of time for one-to-one conversations with representatives from more than 30 companies," Marold says. "They also got to meet with their peers from other universities."

Michael Tidwell, dean of EMU's College of Business, is a huge advocate for students having the professional skill set–communication, presentation and professional polish–that is required to be successful in today's tough corporate environment.

Sutter says he understands more now than ever why it's so important for students to not only possess technical skills but professional skills as well.

"Dr. Tidwell has provided students with so many wonderful opportunities to network with professionals and develop those skills such as the business conference that took place earlier this year," he says. "Competition is fierce in the business world, and we need to do anything that we can to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack, and events like the Kohl's competition are great ways to do so."


-Written by Princess Gabbara, a senior at Eastern Michigan University, where she will soon earn her bachelor's degree in journalism.

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