Azusa Pacific Business Students Hit the Mark in Competition

by Jason Cunningham

Continuing a successful partnership, Azusa Pacific University again hosted the Target Case Study Competition for APU graduate management students, with a $2,000 scholarship on the line.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, as it allows them to use in real-world settings the skills they are learning in the classroom,” said Roxanne Helm-Stevens, DBA, associate professor and chair of management programs in APU’s School of Business and Management.

On February 11, Target representatives visited the students and presented current Target business initiatives that served as the basis for the case studies. The initiatives included increasing sales in Target’s bridal registry, as well as in apparel and accessories, by applying innovative customer-focused strategies.

Student groups developed strategies to help drive these objectives, designing a plan from implementation to execution and measurement, and presenting their plans to Target executives. A question-and-answer session followed each presentation, allowing the executives to inquire about the rationale, timeline, and implementation of each proposal.

The team of Evelyn Setjoadi ’16, Uriel Garcia ’16, and Michelle Greene ’16 won this year’s $2,000 scholarship for their U-Wedding presentation, which outlined a customized wedding registry process to increase customer satisfaction and staff knowledge and potentially increase revenue by ensuring more consumers are aware of the wedding services Target offers.

“Working with companies through applied projects gives me real-life experience,” said Greene. “It taught me a lot about work ethic, compromising in a team setting, and most importantly, I learned that if I work hard, I can accomplish anything.”

Preparation was key, said Garcia. "Preparing for a presentation is not easy. We made sure to avoid any mistakes we made in the past, apply any strength a team member possessed, and we were able to support each other,” he said. “We calculated costs, benefits, marketing, risk analysis, culture integration, branding, and so on. If I learned anything from this past year, it is that a company will be more willing to adapt an idea that integrates well within their culture. Projects like this help use learn what is happening in the business world—what the trends are, what is changing. These projects prepare students for the world outside of APU and I am grateful to have been part of it.”

“The world outside” is just the thing for which APU is preparing students, according to Thomas D. Cairns, DBA, associate professor in the School of Business and Management. “One of the key skills students learn is how to present their ideas—it is not enough to have a great idea and expect it to be adopted without clearly and precisely communicating why this idea is significant and how it can be implemented. The Target Case Study Competition is an ideal situation for students to practice their presentation skills in a real-world application.”

Target has been awarding Target Case Study Competition scholarships to students in APU’s graduate management programs for several years, and once more the judges came away satisfied.

“We enjoyed our time with the students and were impressed with their recommendations,” said Kristen Bathan, a Target senior recruiter, of the April 7 presentations. “We also know it took a ton of time and commitment from APU to put this all together and we are very grateful.”

Jason Cunningham is a writer/editor in the Office of University Relations.