Retail Students to Compete in National Industry Competition with Unique Business Plan to Empower Consumers
Hospitality and Retail Management (HRM) students Noelle Jordan and Lainey Vaughn will compete in the 2019 National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation Student Challenge. The NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided over $100,000 in student scholarship funds to across the country.
The business-case competition features the magazine company, STORY, and is designed for undergraduate students in hospitality and retail management backgrounds. Students are presented with the scenario that they are members of a creative merchandising team at STORY. When the company asks for STORY concepts to pitch to their sponsors, the student teams must present their best ideas.
Teams partner together to create a 30-page pitch presentation and a 90-second pitch video to convince CEO of STORY, Rachel Schechtman, that their sponsor company plan is topnotch. Lainey and Noelle have selected Home Depot as their sponsor to present.
"We are focusing on the theme of Empowerment to show customers that Home Depot is a mecca for all things home improvement and DIY and that it is an easy, accessible resource for everyone," Noelle explains.
Noelle is most looking forward to the creativity that the competition allows.
"Being a retail student allows me to express myself in so many ways and I love that even with a project of this importance we are given such extensive creative freedom."
Assistant Professor and project supervisor, Hyo Jung "Julie" Chang, Ph.D. describes the opportunity that the competition provides for the HRM program.
"This is a first time our program and students compete this NRF Student Challenge," Dr. Chang said. "It will be hard as this is a first challenge for us. This is a good beginning and I believe our program and students can build confidence and expand more opportunities through this great beginning."
The challenge intends to provide students the opportunity to grow their entrepreneurial spirit in various aspects of retail including merchandising, marketing, communications, finance and more.
"This is an amazing opportunity for them to apply what they've learned in our retail classes and their own experiences to the real-world scenarios," Dr. Chang said.
Lainey describes her excitement as an opportunity to work on her weaknesses and turn them into strengths by utilizing creative business strategies. By choosing Home Depot, the team will use their strengths to show customers that they can conquer anything, even in retail.
"I am glad I found a major that I love and get to show people how much Retail Management means to me," Lainey said. "I would not be here without my professors who have gotten me to this point and my other classmates to push me to get here."
In January, three finalist teams will present their final plans. The top scoring team will be announced at the 2019 NRF Foundation Gala to be held January 13, 2019.
We wish Lainey, Noelle, Dr. Chang, and HRM the best of luck!