Wednesday, Mar 2, 2022
University’s graduate team hasn’t finished outside top 5 since 2009
by Adam Grybowski
A team of Rider University graduate students finished second in the nation in this year’s Small Business Institute Project of the Year Competition.
The annual event recognizes the best student consulting projects throughout the United States. Rider has participated in the competition since 1998, with teams of business students vying each year in both the undergraduate and graduate divisions. Between the two teams, they have captured a cumulative 38 top 10 national finishes, including five national titles, eight second-place finishes and six third-place finishes.
A Rider graduate team has finished within the top five in the country every year since 2009.
This year's team consisted of two graduates of Rider’s Master of Business Administration program, Alex Caronna '21 and Anand Munuswamy 21, and current MBA students Bobby Trinneer and Sarah Zawodniak. (Zawodniak is also enrolled in Rider’s Master of Science in Information Systems program.)
"I am so proud of the effort Rider students make to consistently compete at this level, and this team was a great example of that," says Dr. Ron Cook, associate dean of the Norm Brodsky College of Business, and director of Rider's Small Business Institute program.
The competing team produced its consulting report as part of Cook’s graduate consulting class in spring 2021. In the course, students act as consultants to small firms and organizations in the area.
This year’s client was Virbby LLC, a company based in Delaware that seeks to make everyday conversations between languages easier through on-demand bilingual interpretation services.
The team created a consulting plan that identified both the most promising marketing segments the company could penetrate and the standard of service that must be provided within these markets.
Joe Hudicka ’93, ’00 served as the team’s mentor. An entrepreneurial studies advisory board member and adjunct instructor at Rider, Hudicka operates Fizzee Labs alongside his wife, Lora Hudicka, who is the director of Rider’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and their two children, Joey and Heidi. The company centers its work around the idea of "productive play" — learning while having fun — and creativity, things Hudicka's children have embraced since they were young.
“Joe and I met with the teams weekly, and he served as a valuable resource for the students as they worked on these assignments,” Cook says.