Rider business students place in top 5 for national consulting competition

Two teams recognized for best Small Business Institute consulting project
Adam Grybowski
Two teams made up of Rider University students placed in the top five in this year’s national Small Business Institute Consulting Project of the Year (POY) competition, which recognizes the best student consulting projects from schools around the country.
The graduate-level team finished in fourth place and the undergraduate team placed fifth, with both receiving honorable mention.
“This competition is intense, and I can appreciate the quality of the projects submitted and the effort students must make to earn a top finish,” says Ron Cook, director of Rider’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Small Business Institute (SBI).
Since 2009, nine Rider graduate teams have finished in the top four, including two first-place finishes. Since 2010, Rider undergraduate teams have finished in the top 10 eight times, including one national championship and three third place finishes. Overall, the University has had 30 top 10 or better winners in both graduate and undergraduate categories.
The accolades are especially impressive when noting that Rider competes against other universities that require an SBI project in certain majors or programs, meaning Rider students' projects are evaluated next to schools with more than 25 high-quality entries.
“I believe that our students can compete with anybody,” Cook says. “This year’s winners were excellent students and a wonderful example of the best Rider has to offer.”
MBA students Brittany Hazel ‘16 and Sandra Penas Mur ‘16 and College of Continuing Studies student Steve Timko ’16 (entrepreneurial studies) made up the graduate team. They produced their winning consulting report as part of Cook’s consulting class in the Fall 2015 semester. In the course, students act as consultants to small firms/organizations in the area. Their client was ZieglerWorld, a company based in Hamilton, N.J., that sells discount table shuffleboards and other game room furnishings. The students developed a social media strategy to help ZieglerWorld increase its sales through better brand awareness and improved engagement with its customers.  
The undergraduate students were entrepreneurial studies majors Molly Podosek ’16, Michael Sinnott ’17, James Butrico ’16 and Meghan Monte ’16, who also produced the consulting report in the Fall 2015 semester. The client was Spruce Industries, a cleaning supplies wholesaler.  The students developed a strategy to help Spruce penetrate the health care market, specifically hospitals, nursing homes and urgent care facilities. 
“This was a unique challenge as it required the students to learn health care terminology so they could research and develop recommendations for that industry,” Cook says. 
Sinnott says the most important things he learned about the competition was the importance of communication and team work. "You must be able to effectively communicate with the business owner, professor and various contacts where you obtain your information," he says. "In this project, having a team with varying opinions and perspectives brought the best work out of us. We pushed each other to work harder and were successful because of that. This project taught us that you must work together with the people and situation you are in, and make the most out of it. “
“I want to thank SBI's corporate sponsor, Grand Bank, as well as their support has helped make this program such a success,” Cook says.