Published 12/07/10

Seniors present research and strategy ideas to Target executives

December 7, 2010

Kathleen Wiseman ’11 (Barrington, RI) felt confident and prepared when she stepped to the front of the room and began presenting to visiting Target executives late last month. Her Honors Program team had spent the semester researching and devising strategies that would help the retail giant be more successful in urban markets.

During the presentation, Wiseman unveiled her team’s proposal that Target alter the names of urban locations to “Target Central.” This title would describe the chain’s central location in an urban area, as well as the mission to centralize all of a shopper’s needs into one store.

After finishing, one of the Target executives disclosed to Wiseman and her teammates that Target’s business development team also believed there should be a name change and had recently decided to call all urban locations “City Target.” Wiseman and her teammates earned the top spot in the fall semester Target Case Competition with their keen insight, netting them a $3,000 cash prize.

“It was interesting that our team had touched upon one of the main points that actual Target executives had also discussed,” says Wiseman, who has received a job offer to join PwC in January 2012 after completing Bryant’s Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program.

‘Forward looking’

Kendal Cehanowicz ’11 (Brewster, NY), who was part of the presentation team with Wiseman, says the project gave his group an opportunity to apply to a real company what they learned in Trustee Management Professor Michael Roberto’s class.

“Rather than just focusing on theory or how companies have positioned themselves in the past, opportunities like the Target Case Competition allow students to think outside the box and be forward looking,” says Cehanowicz, who is pursuing a career in investments in New York City. “These are two characteristics that are extremely important in the corporate world today.”

In addition to the “Target Central” concept, the team shared ideas of “blitzing” key urban markets with multiple stories; eliminating furniture and bulk items; and using the “Target Taxi,” a spinoff of the TV show “Cash Cab, as part of a marketing plan.

“We conducted a lot of research and our recommendations were supported with strong financials,” says Chad Ryan ’11 (Shrewsbury, VT), who will sit for the CPA exam this summer before beginning to work for CCR in Westborough, MA, next November.

‘Outstanding job’

During the job interviews she has been on, Cinthia Fruci ’11 (Norwood, MA) says she has noticed that recruiters are intrigued and impressed by these kind of real-life learning experiences.

“This project tied together all of the different subject areas we studied over the years,” says Fruci, who accepted a job with PwC that she starts this summer.

“It was fulfilling to know that our hours of hard work paid off and Target representatives were impressed with the amount of research and thought we put into the project,” adds Tom Carroll ’11 (North Hampton, NH), who is pursuing a career in corporate finance.

Each of the 10 groups – representing the best from each section of Business 400 – answered questions from the Target executives after their presentations. Jim Hogan, a Target group vice president, commended the students for being quick on their feet. “They did an outstanding job,” says Hogan. “They were professional, poised, and prepared, and I was impressed with their research and creativity.”

‘Not many students…’

Jennifer Denise ’11 (East Patchogue, NY), who was part of the team that captured second place and earned a $1,000 cash prize, believes the experience will be a great résumé boast and provide a good talking point during interviews.

“Not many students can say they were able to present their ideas to a room full of executives,” she says.

As part of their presentation, Denise and her teammates recommended that Target focus on opening stores in Boston, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles; emphasize technology, clothing, groceries, and health and beauty products; and explore a promotional partnership with musician Jay-Z.

“It was an exciting experience to take what we had worked on for so long and have the opportunity to present it to executives who deal with it every day,” says Brian Chapdelaine ’11 (Springfield, MA), who’ll complete Bryant’s MPAc programming before beginning to work for Deloitte. 

‘Build our confidence’

Lauren Newton ’11 (Pawtucket, RI) says she learned how to tailor a company’s products to different types of consumers because they are not all looking for the same thing.  “It can be hard to understand exactly what you learn until you apply it to something in the real world,” says Newton, whose group was part of Associate Management Professor Crystal Jiang’s class.

Kristina Pittella ’11 (East Boston, MA) concedes that it was a bit nerve-racking to share ideas with the Target executives. But, before long she felt in her element.

“Every project we work on at Bryant offers us the opportunity to sharpen our presentation skills and build our confidence,” says Pittella, who plans to attend graduate school before sitting for the CPA exam and beginning to work at PwC in January 2012.

Adds Christopher Kotos ’11 (Wilton, CT), “This project gave us the hands-on experience that we can use in our future endeavors.”