11:32 AM

UHCL College of Business students compete internationally

Five pioneering students from the University of Houston-Clear Lake College of Business participated in the 51st Annual International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition, held virtually April 22-24.

"We were optimistic about it, but we knew we'd be up against teams who had been in this competition for decades," said Associate Professor of Management Troy Voelker, who was the team's adviser, along with Interim Associate Dean Dorothy Kirkman.

"The College of Business wants to increase student exposure in national events. We knew we were just getting our feet wet at this competition, but as we saw how invested some universities are in this competition, having competed for up to 30 years, it opened our eyes to new ways to teach and prepare," he said. "We will definitely be back in the coming years."

Voelker said that despite the complications presented due to the competition's virtual platform, the students learned quickly what judges expected and how best to present their material.

Thirty teams involving more than 100 American and Canadian students participated beginning in February, and the competition culminated in the Zoom event in April. Each student team played roles as leaders of a publicly traded corporation, made product decisions, organized marketing, sales, manufacturing and corporate finance activities. For the final event, they prepared a business plan pitch to the board of directors, played by the competition judges.

"The actual competition was a nerve-wracking but phenomenal experience," said Christopher Stevens, a senior working towards his bachelor of science in management. "The depth of the requirements for this mirrored real-life work experience. An opportunity like this turned education into real life," he said.

Voelker said he learned just as much as his students. "I see now how we can structure our junior-level courses to better prepare students for the real world of business management," he said. "And as we attend more of these competitions, we'll add to that base of knowledge and understanding."

The team was comprised of graduating seniors Sara Arif, Gabriella Medrano and Sydney Sonnier, who led the team while taking their business Capstones, and Elizabeth DeFatta and Stevens.

All are working toward their bachelor's degree in management.

For more information about the degree options within UHCL's Department of Management, go online.