Small Business Consultants Conceive Winning Ways

For years, Rider’s College of Business Administration has encouraged its students to learn, experience and lead. The College’s Small Business Institute (SBI) has taken the concept of “experience” to heart, giving students valuable familiarity with real-life business situations before they even earn their degrees. The results have been fruitful, as two teams from Rider earned national honors for their work at the Small Business Institute Association’s 33rd Annual National Conference from February 12 to 14 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For years, Rider’s College of Business Administration has encouraged its students to learn, experience and lead. The College’s Small Business Institute (SBI) has taken the concept of “experience” to heart, giving students valuable familiarity with real-life business situations before they even earn their degrees. The results have been fruitful, as two teams from Rider earned national honors for their work at the Small Business Institute Association’s 33rd Annual National Conference from February 12 to 14 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Elizabeth Bond ’08 and Alex Opiela ’08, both M.B.A. graduates, and current M.B.A. student Chris Bleakley earned second place for Best Student Consulting Project in the graduate specialized project division for their work with Julius A. Rose, Inc., of Bayonne, N.J. The Rider group worked to improve marketing and develop new staffing procedures for the insurance agency during the 2007-08 academic year, and their report was produced as part of the Consulting for New and Small Businesses course in which the three students were enrolled last year.

“This is just another example of the outstanding effort done by Rider SBI students,” said Dr. Ron Cook, chair of the Department of Entrepreneurial Studies and Strategy, who taught Bond, Opiela and Bleakley’s class. “Finishing second in the nation in the graduate division is a testimony to what can happen when outstanding students work with an excellent client and propose useful, implementable solutions.”

Cook, who is also the director of the Rider Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Institute, said that Rider students have enjoyed a history of substantial success in the national competition over the years. “In the last 10 years, we have had 13 top-10 finishes,” said Cook, who is serving a term as the president of the SBI Association, but was not involved in selecting the winners from Rider. “The competition is intense, as Rider competes against some schools that require an SBI project in certain majors, and have 30-plus projects from which to select their best one to send to the competition.”

Rider’s total was bolstered by the additional selection of Rider’s undergraduate SBI team, which finished fourth nationally in the Association competition’s specialized division. Claiming the undergraduate honors were Serge Sachko ’08 and Marisa Dominguez ’08, who earned bachelor’s degrees last May in Entrepreneurial Studies and Marketing, and Marketing, respectively. Sachko and Dominguez’s project centered on a marketing study for the Rider Technology Training department, and the pair worked with John LeMasney, manager of the Office of Informational Technology.

“Rider’s SBI reached new heights this year as, until now, we have never had two top-five national finishes in the same year,” Cook said. “This is truly a win-win-win: the students know they are among the elite, the clients gained tremendous value from these projects, and the University demonstrates its outreach efforts into the community.”

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