Business students win prizes at competition

March 10, 2016

Five students from the Saint Michael’s College Department of Business Administration & Accounting, accompanied by Professor Robert Letovsky, participated in the fourth annual “Free Enterprise Marathon” at the State University of New York Plattsburgh on Friday March 4, 2016. The group earned cash prizes in both individual and team events with finishers among the top three in each.

The event, sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation, also included teams from host SUNY Plattsburgh, the University of Vermont, Clarkson University, University of New Hampshire and six other colleges/universities in the region. Cash prizes were given for the top individual short speeches on a topic related to entrepreneurship, and for the top four teams in the “Team Creativity and Innovation Competition”.

The Saint Michael’s College team was composed of business majors Arianna Aquadro and Kelley Charette,  business/history double major Justin Colletti, accounting/international relations double major Samuel Fogg, and business/political science double major Willis Reid Breyette (all class of 2016).

Willis Reid Breyette was the Saint Michael’s representative in the “Free Enterprise Speak Off,” delivering a speech under the assigned theme “Free Enterprise: The problems I would solve as a social entrepreneur.”  Willis proposed creating a new nonprofit organization to address violence against sexual minorities in Uganda.  His comprehensive and impassioned speech won second place in the Speak Off and a cash prize of $500 (in addition to $100 for having been named the SMC representative to the event).

Following the Speak Off Competition in the morning, Willis then joined the rest of the team for the Team Creativity and Innovation round.  This year’s challenge to the student teams was to develop/design a new menu item and marketing program for McDonald’s, specifically targeted at “millennials.”

After a brief presentation by a representative of a major regional McDonald’s franchise operator, the teams were given about three hours to do some market research online, devise their recipes and marketing plans, and pack all this into a five minute presentation to a panel of judges, Letovsky said.  The Saint Michael’s students came up with a gluten-free wrap featuring chicken, kale, spinach and other ingredients, which they called the new Gluten Free & Fresh wrap.  Their presentation included a recipe, design for distinctive packaging for the new product, a cost/price analysis and a social media promotion plan.

“The team’s strategies, creativity and presentation enthusiasm clearly resonated with the judging panel, which included both the McDonald’s franchisee representative as well as local businesspeople,” said Letovsky of the Saint Michael’s team that finished in third place, earning the cash prize of $400.  Letovsky expressed special thanks to business professor Karen Popovich, who also worked with the team on the practice sessions and preparation leading up to the event.

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