On February 6th, I and a few of my former classmates were invited by Mr. Henry Singer to represent the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business, Florida Tech in the Intercollegiate Strategic Management Competition being held on March 31st, 2012, at Florida Southern College. The Florida Tech team included Melissa Soares, Jackie Griffin, Robert Wilkes, Brendan Boley, and myself, Giovana Soares, along with team advisor Mr. Henry Singer, an instructor in Strategic Management, for the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business. I was very honored to be a member of this winning Florida Tech team.
The objective of the competition was simple. A company gives a presentation describing their business, the market, and their current issues. Our job is to provide recommendations on how to overcome these current issues … in less than 24 hours! A few weeks before the competition the team met with Mr. Singer to go over how we should organize the recommendations, what kind of major strategies there are, and how we should manage our time. After many meetings, conversations, and exchange of emails, we were all feeling confident and ready for the competition.
On Thursday afternoon, April 5th, we travelled across the state to Florida Southern. Upon arrival we had a pizza party to review the rules and get to know the other teams. We found out we were competing against Florida Southern College, Stetson University, and Eckerd College.
On Friday morning we met with the client, Florida Citrus, who talked about their industry and explained how the consumption of orange juice has been in decline for several years; especially among younger people. Given that, the teams needed to come up with a marketing plan that targets college students –Florida Citrus’ potentially long term customers – and stay within a budget of $2 million.
Right after the client meeting we started to brainstorm and generate as many ideas as possible… no criticisms allowed in this part! Once we had our ideas, we went over them and selected the ones we thought were the best fit for college students; never forgetting Florida Citrus’ business model. Later that afternoon, Florida Southern provided us four individuals who work in the orange juice industry to answer any questions we might have. We were given 20 minutes with each individual.
It was around 2:30 when we finished these meetings, so we had a quick bite and then went straight to the classroom provided for us by Florida Southern. Unfortunately, the classroom had a big impact on our performance. The chairs were not comfortable, the temperature of the room was around 60 degrees, the ideas were not flowing, and we did not have any clear direction of where we were going with our plan.
Around 6 o’clock we agreed that we were in a very unproductive environment and decided to go to the empty conference room down the hall; a move that was approved by the organizers right away. The conference room had just the right temperature, the chairs were very comfortable, and as a result, our ideas started flowing like a river! Everything started to come together as we all had hoped. We were so excited with our new ideas that we were working even harder.
Time passed… everyone was really tired after giving 100% to the project. It was around 3 in the morning on Friday, so we finally decided it was time to stop. The project was perfect the way it was. The only thing left was to go over our speeches. So we went back to the hotel and grabbed a couple of hours of sleep. We were to present our plan at 9 am Saturday morning. We must have been excited, because we were all ready to go by 7 o’clock Saturday morning. We were the first team to present, and after our presentation we were confident that we had set the bar quite high.
Three hours later, after much deliberation, the CEO of Florida Citrus announced the winner: Team 1. We must have been more tired than we thought, because when he announced the winner, we had forgotten our team number – come on, we were burned out after doing so much research and planning! But we quickly realized we were the winning team and jumped up to celebrate!
We then had a final meeting with the judges, who explained the high and low points about our plan, and of course, what made them choose us over the other schools. Even though we had been very confident about our work, we knew the competing schools were competent, too; so winning meant a lot to us.
This was definitely a unique and very special experience for all six of us. Winning this competition proved once again, just how important teamwork is in any type of situation. We all overcame so many obstacles, ranging from the short time frame and a very uncomfortable classroom to tiredness and hunger. We thank the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business for believing in us and for allowing us to grow both as humans and as professionals. We will never forget such a great and unique experience.