Students network at marketing showcase

Megan Welch

The third annual Marketing Showcase, which connected students of all business backgrounds with local and national employers, was held on Feb. 24 in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center.

In attendance were 60 companies with about 66 representatives, the majority of whom were Villanova graduates.Approximately 70 students attended.

“The intent of the program is to help students start the process of landing full-time and internship positions,” said Jim Mullen, marketing profressor.

The evening featured an academic focus on the current economic situation and marketing-based student presentations, as well as a social focus, with dinner and plenty of networking opportunities for the students in attendance.

Both Mullen and John Kozup, associate professor of marketing, opened with welcoming remarks about the success of both the marketing showcase, and the Villanova School of Business in general, which recently took the No. 11 spot in BusinessWeek’s survey of the best undergraduate business schools in the nation.

Kozup stressed the importance of creating an intersection between the students and the business world, especially in today’s post-recession marketplace, when it is more vital than ever to understand the economic situation.

Dean of the Villanova School of Business James Danko introduced the evening’s prestigious keynote speaker, William McDermott, president of Global Field Operation for SAP AG.

McDermott, whose company sponsors the Villanova men’s basketball team, opened with a reference to Villanova’s slogan “Mind, Heart, Faith and Knowledge,” a combination which, he said, helps the University to flourish and grow.

He provided an engaging and informative address, using humor and stories from his own business experiences to discuss ways to inspire change and growth, even in troubled economic times.

Today’s situation is the worst economic downturn of our lifetime, according to McDermott, affecting not just Wall Street, but all aspects of industry – from automotive and retail to the housing industry and the health care system.

McDermott enforced that this isn’t the first economic downturn and won’t be the last.

He highlighted eight ways for great companies to win in the new reality. His suggestions included focusing on sustainability and consumer relations.

McDermott used the story of his own personal success to back the importance of these traits, demonstrating the many ways he utilized them throughout his rise in the business world.

In 2002, he was awarded a top position at SAP – president of its Global Field Operations. He manages the company in many regions, including Latin America, Japan, China and India.

When McDermott took the reigns, the company had missed its quarterly targets for three years straight.

Since his arrival, they have succeeded in delivering 25 consecutive quarters of market share gains, revenue growth and customer satisfaction improvements.

He advised all students at Villanova to choose their careers in a field for which they have passion.

“Do what you do great always and often,” he said. “And work on the bad stuff when no one else is around.”

After the talk, a question and answer session revealed further strategies for success in categories such as how to survive as a small business, how to break into the job market and how to keep employees motivated in trying times.

Immediately following his speech, two groups of VSB students presented marketing-based projects from their classes.

Lauren Gentilcore and Gia Vosill, both juniors, showed their “Superseeker” game idea from their fall 2008 management essentials course.

The concept for the game involved hiding transponders all over the house.Children must answer trivia questions in order to find the devices.

Beyond the conception of the game, the students had to price the product, research possible competitors and, most importantly, find ways to market the game to its target demographic.

Next, students Heather Findlay, Colleen Furman, Dena Alessi and Joanne Marks, presented their project from their fall 2008 buyer behavior course, called “A Marketing Plan for the Investment Fund for TIFF.”

TIFF aids non-profits, most notably institutions of higher learning.

The girls looked directly at the company and its competitors to develop both problem points (brand awareness and education of customers) and strategies to eliminate these problem points.