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By Brittany Smythe
BSBA Marketing ’11

Undergraduate students boosted Eller’s reputation and their own presentation skills at a trio of case competitions this semester: the Las Vegas Altria Sales Competition, the Ohio State Biz Quiz, and an international ethics case competition hosted by Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.


The Eller team of (left to right) Brittany Gomes,
Emily O’Dwyer, Alexandra Rome, Tara Trailova, and
Sydney Fong — with marketing lecturer Vic Piscitello
— placed first in the 2009 Las Vegas Altria Sales

A team of six students — Sydney Fong, Brittany Gomes, Alex Jones, Emily O’Dwyer, Tara Trailova, and Alexandra Rome — placed first among twelve teams competing in the Las Vegas Altria Sales Competition in November. The Eller team came from marketing lecturer Vic Piscitello’s sales communication class. “The teams were given a detailed case that focused on the sale of water to a convenience store chain,” he explains. “They had 20 minutes to ‘close’ the sale.”

“The competition gave me the chance to practice presentation skills in front of a panel of business experts, not just our peers and teachers,” says marketing senior Rome. “It taught me how to be persuasive and prepared, and how to interact with other professionals.” 

Gomes, also a marketing senior, adds, “The real-world experience was absolutely invaluable. It is one thing to receive feedback from your peers and professors, but coming from a regional vice president, the feedback on what we did well and what we should work on helped me understand what I need to do to improve my sales skills after graduation.”

Students Sarah Trainor, Mitch Eich, and Tony Yuang also got a chance to test their communication skills this fall at the annual Ohio State Biz Quiz. The students competed against 17 other universities and placed third overall, topping teams from the University of Michigan, University of Texas Austin, and Purdue. The competition tests the teams’ knowledge of current events covered in the Wall Street Journal through a Jeopardy-style quiz.


Eller students (left to right) Mitch Eich, Sarah
Trainor, and Tony Yuang — with Eller honors advisor
Dave Wietecha (second from right) — celebrate
their good showing at the Ohio State Biz Quiz.

To prepare, the students reviewed the paper for six weeks before the competition, developing in-depth knowledge of the news. The competition also offered a chance for the students to network with competition sponsor Nationwide Insurance. For recruiters, case competitions offer a chance to distinguish leaders from a variety of colleges; Nationwide promoted its Financial Leadership Program to the students, who were encouraged to interview for internships. Following her initial interview with Nationwide, finance senior Trainor was offered a second interview.

“The best part was getting to meet and interact with like-minded business students from across the country,” says finance senior Eich. “This competition helped me prepare for my future career by providing me with a great networking opportunity and a chance to experience what it’s like to perform well under pressure.” 

The third competition, which dealt with international ethics, was a first for Eller. Ethics Program director Paul Melendez selected the three-person team of Gabrielle Geesey, Brittany Smythe, and Anushka Chaya to represent the College. The team traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to debate ethical dilemmas that affect the global environment and students planning to enter the business world. 

The competition included three intense rounds, in which ethical, legal, and financial dimensions of each case were analyzed. The Eller team was the only U.S. university that scored high enough to participate in the final round, ultimately placing fourth overall.

Case competitions like these offer students the chance to test their skills in a setting that mimics real-world business challenges. The College provides a taste of these competitions to all of its students through the business communication competition and other courses, but also encourages students to get involved with competitions outside of the UA.