Business team wins first place for the first time in history

By Olivia Nicoletti

As Associate Professor Larry Newman would say, April 22 was a historic day for Rider University.

A team from the Norm Brodsky College of Business won first place at the Johnson and Johnson National Business Case Competition, making them the first team from Rider in history to win.

After three teams from Rider competed against each other on March 24, the decision was made that the team consisting of sophomore finance major Zach Fernandez, senior accounting major Xander Praski, junior business analytics major David Lee, senior management and leadership major Lindsey Mulrooney, junior finance major Brittany Lavko and sophomore human resources major Giuseppe Scordato were going to continue on to the national competition to try and gain a title.

According to Praski, the national competition was among 10 schools, but 11 teams competed, two being from Rutger University’s different locations in New Brunswick and Newark.

Rider teams prepared well by dedicating an entire class to the competition. The Case Analysis and Presentation course taught by Newman and William Totaro guided students in the right direction to execute this presentation well.

The team’s continuous dedication to the project throughout the semester allowed them to walk into this feeling confident in their abilities.

Newman said, “Professor Totaro and I were elated for the students. We were thrilled that the team’s hard work and many hours spent analyzing the case and practicing their presentation was recognized by the Johnson and Johnson executives who were judging the competition.”

According to Fernandez, he and his teammates met outside of class on many occasions when they eventually became close friends and formed a bond.

“We had class until 2:50 p.m. and then we’d stay after class and work until 9 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., sometimes even until 10 p.m.,” Fernandez said. “We would meet for hours outside of class to prepare.”

Regardless of the time sacrificed to make this happen, Fernandez said that the group chemistry is ultimately what made this so easy.

“We spent some days purely on what we called group cohesion, which was basically just kind of goofing around. We then got to a point where we were so close that we were a well oiled machine,” Fernandez said. “I mean, we all understood each other’s thoughts, and we understood the different perspectives in the group, and we were friends outside of the class. When we were competing, I feel like that was maybe our best advantage is that we were so close to one another. We had such good chemistry as a team.”

Newman thinks there are several reasons for the team’s successes. The group members excelled “in applying their business knowledge to perfecting their oral communication to supporting one another to readily accepting the coaching offered by Professor Totaro and [himself].”

Newman along with Praski both agreed that the team was in it to win it.

“I was really confident because I knew all the work that we put in, and for them to finally say that Rider had won, feels great,” Praski said. “All our hard work paid off, and now we don’t have to worry about it.”

Newman followed up by saying, “Perhaps the most important factor in their success was their shared belief from the start that they had what it took to win.”

Newman said, “Certainly, winning this competition and placing ahead of some very solid larger schools, demonstrates that the Norm Brodsky College of Business prepares its students to be successful business professionals.”

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