The Clayton State University Chapter of the Society for Advancement of Management (SAM) recently took its second straight first place award at the SAM national business competition in Las Vegas, Nev.
Led by SAM advisor Dr. Reza Kheirandish, assistant professor of Economics in the College of Business at Clayton State, the SAM team of students Roxanne Gonzalez, Jordan Bryant, Corey Wagner, Janice Jackman, and Chris Cable won the national competition with what Kheirandish termed, “a stylish campaign for an electric car manufacturer.”
In addition, Wagner, Gonzalez and Cable also received regional outstanding student awards and Wagner and Gonzalez received the national outstanding student award.
“The most important thing for me as the advisor of the Clayton State chapter of SAM was that the team did an outstanding job, as a group, to represent Clayton State,” says Kheirandish. “I have received many complements from the other chapter advisors because of these dedicated students. I should also mention this travel [to the competition] was impossible without generous support form the Office of Provost and the Dean of College of Business. I think our investment in our star students paid off very well.”
When designing of a state-of-the-art automobile, a manufacturer gathers experts from many disciplines, including engineering, industrial design, and marketing. When putting together a team for a prestigious national business competition, Kheirandish selected five top students with different study concentrations so their unique perspectives would make the whole unit stronger. The five College of Business students major in everything from supply chain management to accounting to marketing, and their blend of talents served them well as they came up with a campaign to promote the real-life Tesla Motors, a cutting-edge electric car company based in California. Their mock campaign included a PowerPoint presentation, a video, a new emblem for the brand, and an advertising campaign promoting Tesla’s unique selling point: high-technology design that is also environmentally-friendly and safety-focused.
“Tesla makes high-end vehicles, but they are moving into a more economical market,” says Wagner, a senior marketing major from Conyers and the team captain. “Where the company once only produced sleek sports cars, they’ve now come out with a sedan to attract families. We were tasked with coming up with ideas to better their business and help them gain more of a share of the market. The winning concept hinged on a message to, `Protect your family now. Protect your family in the future.’”
The team’s cohesiveness and industrious preparation for the competition gave it the winning edge, adds Wagner, who also participated on last year’s winning team.
“Our dynamics were great. We really worked great together. Everyone had varied skills, and we put together a wonderful presentation,” he says.
Wagner used his video editing skills to create a 50-second presentation promoting Tesla’s technology and style, projecting “what we wanted Tesla to represent. We wanted to put out an image of Tesla being high-performance, but green. We wanted to enhance that by showing that they are bringing out new models for every lifestyle.” Team member and fellow senior Cable’s family owns a machine shop, so the team were able to use that equipment to create an actual car emblem.
Diversity of skills and viewpoints gained from their different concentrations of study at Clayton State made the team a strong unit, says Cable, a supply chain management major from Griffin, Ga.
“We all looked at the project from different perspectives,” he says. “And we have great professors at Clayton State. I originally had no idea what supply chain management was. I was into marketing at first. But the professors show how each unit contributes to the other.”
Fellow senior Gonzalez, who put together a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for Tesla as part of the project, found the experience challenging, but very rewarding.
“Fortunately, we all got along so well. It was perfect! Even though everyone has their own personality, we all had pretty much the same work ethic in regards to getting work done right and timely,” says Gonzalez, a McDonough resident who was born in Cuba.
While the students were excited by the glamorous topic of the project, they realized that the lessons they all learned could be applied to their future roles in business no matter what industry they choose.
“It’s all about communication and collaboration in business,” says Cable, a self-professed car fanatic. “That whole project really emphasized it, the need to collaborate. It showed that it is a key element to success.”
“Working in these types of projects is very beneficial and important for business students about to graduate, or even students that have years to go,” says Gonzalez, who, like Wagner and Cable, graduated from Clayton State earlier this month. “It gives you some insight in the processes real companies go through when determining strategies, improvements, and how each department needs to work together to reach a common goal.”