Going Once, Twice… Sold!: CSI Claims Win in eBay Competition

The team worked for months to perfect every aspect of their presentation.

In only their second year of involvement in the American Marketing Association (AMA) Collegiate Case Competition, students from the College of Staten Island (CSI) returned from the finals in New Orleans with a third place ranking. More than 100 teams from across North America submitted a Letter of Intent to participate in the annual competition, with the CSI group placing among the nine finalist teams that were invited to present their submission to a panel of eBay judges.

“Our students have done exceptionally well, particularly as new entrants. Other veteran institutions could not believe that the College of Staten Island was able to place among the finalists without a lengthy track record of attempts. It is my understanding that all of the other finalists had extensive experience entering this prestigious competition,” noted Susan Holak, PhD, Dean of the School of Business.

According to the AMA Website, the Collegiate Case Competition began in 1986 and is a yearlong event that brings together top marketing students to work on a marketing challenge submitted by a sponsoring organization. The case sponsor provides a detailed marketing problem for which it is looking to gain the perspective of North America’s best students, who compete by developing a marketing strategy as part of this nationally recognized competition. The sponsor, this year, was eBay, who was seeking ideas for expanding its market share among the Millennial and Generation Z populations.

CSI team members Jacqueline Barbarino, Joseph Curcio, Toufic Eid, Caitlin Fontana, Kimberly Hayes, Sydney Mojica, Margot Noyola, Tian Richards, and Nisma Zakria are enrolled in a new Advanced Marketing Strategy course with Dan Zhang, PhD serving as their faculty instructor and team mentor.

The team left New York early to avoid a snowstorm and arrived in New Orleans with plenty of time to prepare.

“I want to commend the efforts of Professor Dan Zhang, who worked tirelessly to prepare our students. This transformational learning experience will be a wonderful addition to our repository of information documenting how the School of Business meets AACSB standards related to student-student and student-faculty interaction as well as career and professional development,” Dr. Holak commented. AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, is an international accreditor of business schools.

Professor Zhang spent countless hours working with the students on all aspects of their marketing plan, including the presentation of the plan to the eBay judges. Everything about the plan and the presentation was developed as a coordinated team effort, including handouts, media materials, and the team members’ posture, diction, and attire.

Professor Thomas Tellefsen, Chair of the Department of Marketing, says that this is one of the premier competitions in the country for marketing students, and that the team’s accomplishment was remarkable. “Their success is the equivalent of winning the bronze medal in the Olympics. The CSI team faced very stiff competition and outperformed teams from some of the top business schools in the country.”

“Reflecting back on my journey as a member of the eBay Case Competition, it’s hard to focus on just one aspect of it all,” said team member Fontana.  “From the process of compiling information for the case to the trip to New Orleans and eventual presentation in front of the eBay judges, it would be an understatement to say I have merely learned how to market.  This case has opened my eyes to the potential within myself and other CSI students like my colleagues. It has shown me that when you least expect it, great things can happen where hard work is put in.”

This year’s team built upon the experiences of a group that began exploring the competition in 2016, alongside Professor Zhang’s development of the Advanced Marketing Strategy course. Those students opened the door to full participation by registering the School’s Marketing Association as an AMA student organization.

As the School of Business continues to develop its emphasis on experiential learning, outstanding students looking for intensive, immersive learning experiences in the School of Business will be able to seek further success in the coming years. eBay team member Sydney Mojica summed up some of the value of experiential learning, saying that the case competition “was something that you could never get in a traditional classroom and it’s something I think I will cherish for the rest of my life. Learning about the marketing world hands on and networking with other schools and marketing professionals really has made an impact in my career as a future marketer.”