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Business Students Extend Record of Success in Consulting Competition

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Cal State Fullerton business administration students have done it again.

Mihaylo undergraduate and graduate teams placed in the top three of the National Small Business Institute Consulting Project of the Year Competition.

The 2018 awards extend a stunning record of success in this competition; CSUF students have won twelve national championships and finished in the top ten 35 times since 1991.

Consulting for Keller Williams Realty, the undergraduate team consisting of Victor Casanova, Savannah Holliday, Zachary Hultgrien, Chris Huynh, Gabriel Palacios and Donny Ritcharoen — under the supervision of Scott Sorrell, lecturer in marketing, and volunteer mentor Christian Valencia — took third place and wowed their client.

“The consulting program was an excellent experience for my real estate team,” raves Dale Cheema of Keller Williams. “The students provided a very detailed marketing plan, a new branding format and opened my eyes to other forms of marketing and exposure. Their work far exceeded my expectations.”

The graduate-level team of Ken Chen, Gaby Garcia, Mary Haynes, Yumi Kim, Ashwin Nandha and Vicky Tryon captured the national championship for their work with Saigon City Marketplace. They were guided by Lorenzo Bizzi, associate professor of management.

The road to first place was demanding but rewarding for these MBA students tackling the intensive, semesterlong consulting project for their capstone business strategy course.

“Our client was concerned with remaining competitive in an oversaturated ethnic grocery market zone,” explains team member Vicky Tryon’ 15, ’18 (B.A. business administration – management, MBA – management). “He wanted to appeal to younger customers while maintaining traditional values and keeping loyal patrons. He also was looking for recommendations of how to best use his available store space.

“We had multiple in-person meetings with the owner to discuss his needs. Team members took turns conducting customer satisfaction surveys at Saigon City Marketplace, visiting competitors to collect pricing data, and researching best practices and lean methodologies that could be implemented.”

John Bradley Jackson, director of the university’s Center for Entrepreneurship who oversees the CSUF consulting program notes, “Our student consulting projects challenge the students to leave the classroom and apply what they have learned. Many alumni have told us that the student consulting project was the highlight of their academic experience.”

Tryon agrees. “One of the primary reasons I was interested in pursuing a graduate degree was to become a consultant, and this project reaffirmed my interest in that field of work. I cannot imagine a better experience to allow a student a hands-on experience of applying knowledge to solve a real world business problem.”