Lion’s Apprentices get their paws dirty with first challenge

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the College’s School of Business kicked off its second “season” of The Lion’s Apprentice with impressive presentations that were given by five student teams.

Team Money-Makers won the week’s challenge with a presentation that wowed the judges, who were especially impressed with the extensive packet the team handed out before its presentation. The packet included an overview of the team’s ideas, a floor plan of the dining facility that would be found in Armstrong Hall, a detailed menu and sample promotional posters and T-shirts.

The Lion’s Apprentice is an opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in business to take their ambitions to another level.

The basis of the competition is that the teams are presented with a challenge to create a business presentation as though they were genuinely trying to get clients to go along with their ideas.

John Higgins, general manager of Sodexho, Karen Roth, director of Auxiliary Services, and Toni Pusak, assistant director of Auxiliary Services, presented the first challenge on Sept. 26 to the groups of students that wanted to participate.

The students were given only a week to prepare a 10-minute presentation that would propose a new dining cart in Armstrong Hall. In this presentation, the students were asked to consider “grand opening promotions for the new location and ongoing marketing to ensure the cart is a financial and service success.”

The teams each had a budget of $500 for the grand opening, $75 for the transition from one location to another and $250 for the spring promotional budget.

Immediately following each presentation, the teams went through a question and answer session with three judges: David Stryker of Bristol Meyer-Squibb, Lynda Rothermel, the College’s campus architect, and Al Pelham, professor of marketing.

The judges evaluated the students’ abilities to answer difficult questions on the spot, tested their methods of research and asked the students who they had talked to in order to gather their information. The judges were also interested in how the teams functioned as a whole, and who took leadership roles.

Also present watching the presentations were representatives from the College’s Dining and Auxiliary services departments, as well as representatives from Sodexho, the College’s food service provider.

“It felt like we were doing Sodexho’s jobs for them,” Scott Taylor, freshman business major and member of Team Cromwell, said.

Patty Karlowitsch, program assistant for the School of Business, said that she wanted to give the students an opportunity to learn in a competition-based environment, and that the Lion’s Apprentice is where “business gets real.”

The competition also helps the business students figure out whether or not they are really interested in a career in the field.

“If you don’t like this, then you’re not going to like it in the real world,” Taylor said.

The Lion’s Apprentice is the perfect way for business students to get their feet wet in real-life situations, even though it involves taking so much time out to do the work for each presentation.

Jason Cantor, freshman business management major and member of Team PBL and Co., said that the competition itself was “a lot of work, but worth it.”

The general consensus of the students who were involved with the Lion’s Apprentice was that it gave them a perspective on the business world that they could understand.

Lloyd Woods, freshman international business major and Team PBL and Co. member, said that it gives people an “interesting perspective that everyone gets” and an opportunity to see the workings of behind-the-scenes business decisions.

“I don’t want to be just the consumer,” Woods said. In a surprise decision, the judges did not eliminate any teams this week because one team dropped out before the competition started. The judges did caution, however, that the teams that received the most criticism should work extra hard to not have those same problems in the next session.

At the end of this session, the five teams were also presented with their next challenge, which is to increase awareness for the monthly luncheon held by the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce. The team that wins this challenge will be invited to attend the actual luncheon. The five teams will next present on Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium.

The Lion’s Apprentice will have four more sessions before the “Finale” on Wednesday, Dec. 6.