For most of the fall semester, Iris Arriaga and her teammates spent hours creating strategies and analyzing various business components of a major company for the 31st University of Houston-Victoria Bachelor of Business Administration Case Conference on Nov. 19. Their hard work paid off that day, when the team won first place in the competition.
“It took us all by surprise because we didn’t expect to win first place,” Arriaga said. “We worked hard together on this project, and it feels really good to do so well against a large number of teams.”
Arriaga, of Houston, Alma Ashan, of Richmond, Christa Danistan and Jason Szczechowski, of Katy, and Jonathan Ramon, of Beeville won first place for their analysis of Service Corporation International, a leading provider in North America for funeral, cremation and cemetery services.
The UHV College of Business held the conference through Microsoft Teams.
For every semester since 2007, students enrolled in the capstone course of the BBA program called “Strategic Management” have attended the conference and competed as teams to present an analysis of a company. This semester’s conference had 138 students compete in 25 teams. During the virtual conference, each team presented an analysis of a company to a panel of judges made up of UHV faculty, alumni, business professionals and members of the UHV College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board.
The first-place team met through Microsoft Teams frequently during the semester to work on the course project, which included industry and market analysis and analyzing the firm strategy and capabilities. The students also had to provide recommendations on how the company may improve its current strategies, said Kaveh McAdam, associate professor of management and UHV College of Business director of community engagement. McAdam also taught the first-place team.
“The BBA conference is a special event because the College of Business invites some of our outstanding alumni and several community partners to judge the presentations alongside of the college faculty members,” McAdam said. “I am very proud of the team winning first place this semester.”
The beginning of the project was a bit rocky at first, Arriaga said. But after a few weeks, the team found what worked best for them and were able to get a sense of what their analysis would be about.
For the analysis, the team looked at various aspects of the company, including its marketing, financial analysis, accounting, management and the company’s strengths and weaknesses. What Arriaga really liked about the project was that it was the accumulation of all the classes they had taken at UHV. Each component of the project required knowledge and skills they acquired from previous courses but put in a real-life situation.
“Most of us in the group didn’t know what a strategic analysis was until this project, and because of this project, we were able to get hands-on experience doing one before graduating,” she said. “We would come across a certain part of the project, and it was like a lightbulb would come on. Now I understand why this is a capstone course, because it is a good summary of your education.”
The team concluded their presentation with two recommendations for the company. They recommended that Service Corporation International expand into new geographic markets, such as Mexico, and acquire rival firms or companies with attractive technologies expertise or capabilities. By taking on their recommendations, the company would have more stability in the market and form partnerships with the top funeral services provider in Mexico. The team also included information about macro and micro factors for the company, such as a guide about the Mexican economy and funeral culture, the possible threats of rival companies, and charts of ratios and percentages for the financial analysis. The judges really liked that the team included all that information in their presentation, Arriaga said.
Other teams that placed in the BBA Case Conference were:
Second place – Man Giang, of Pharr, Abigail Miller, of Brookshire, Shanice Morgan, of Converse, William Petrosky, of Yoakum, and Samantha Zavaleta Ocampo, of Pflugerville.
Third Place – Benjamin Hargrove, of Katy, Jessika Mendez, of Victoria, and William Stoeltje, of Needville.