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UHV BBA students win competition right after meeting for first time

Dec. 15, 2012 at 6:15 a.m.

The winning team at the University of Houston-Victoria  fall 2012 Bachelor of Business Administration Conference consisted of Yu-Lok Poon, left, Cassandra Clark, Anthony Dingle, Tanesha Bonner and Lisa Schmidt.

SUGAR LAND - A group of five University of Houston-Victoria business students met for the first time in person just moments before presenting their winning strategic analysis of Apple Inc. at the fall 2012 Bachelor of Business Administration Conference.

The first-place team consisted of Tanesha Bonner, of Allen; Cassandra Clark, of Victoria; Anthony Dingle, of Frisco; Yu-Lok Poon, of Sugar Land; and Lisa Schmidt, of Houston.

The group was part of more than 100 BBA students who participated in the competition and heard a keynote address from UHV alumnus Steven Kaufman, founding principal at Zeus Mortgage.

The BBA Conference was Dec. 1 at UH Sugar Land. UHV students enrolled in "Strategic Management," the capstone course of the BBA program, attended the conference along with judges comprised of faculty and former BBA students.

"We started this conference in 2007 to give our students the opportunity to showcase all the skills they've learned at UHV in a real-world setting," said Farhang Niroomand, dean of the UHV School of Business Administration.

"When I saw the project come together, I thought, 'Wow, this is what I've been working toward all this time in school,'" she said.

Clark and her teammates met on conference calls or an online chat board to plan their semesterlong project.

"Because we were spread all over the state, we weren't able to meet in person or practice our presentation as a whole group before we presented in front of the judges," Schmidt said. "But we practiced over the phone when we could and were prepared for worst-case scenarios."

Even with all those hurdles, she said she wasn't surprised when their group was named the winning team.

"This is the best group I've worked with on a school project," she said. "We were committed to each other and serious about getting our work done. I think that made a big difference in the success of our team."

The winning team members each received a certificate recognizing their accomplishment, and their names will appear on a plaque in the UHV School of Business Administration office. They also will be invited to serve as panelists at future case competitions.

After all the groups gave their presentations, attendees gathered for lunch and listened to Kaufman's keynote address, which was part of the UHV School of Business Administration Distinguished Speaker Series sponsored by the Willis Group. The luncheon was co-sponsored by HCSS - Innovative Construction Software, and Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers.

"Mr. Kaufman spoke about where he came from and how he built his successful business," Niroomand said. "His insight into being a successful entrepreneur and embracing a socially responsible business model is invaluable for our students."

Kaufman's Houston-based Zeus Mortgage is the 37th fastest-growing financial service firm in the U.S., according to Inc. Magazine. Kaufman has coordinated $1 billion in real estate financing for American Express, Hewlett Packard and Exxon Mobil. He also is the co-author of the nationally acclaimed best-selling book "Off the Coast of Zanzibar" and has been interviewed about the financial markets by Fox, ABC, CBS, CNN and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Kaufman earned a Master of Science in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship from the university in 2011.

For some students, the BBA Conference was more than just an opportunity to showcase all they've learned. It also was a time to reflect on their accomplishments.

"Getting my BBA means so much to me personally," Schmidt said. "I learned a lot about the full picture of business from management to finance. Getting my degree from UHV has enriched me. I'm so glad I accomplished this."

Clark agreed that winning the conference was a highlight in finishing her degree.

"I was so excited when our team won that I just ran up to the podium and started crying," Clark said. "The moment really hit home that I was finally graduating after only being able to take one or two classes a semester on and off for 14 years. It's not just me graduating, it's everyone who has helped me and supported me through the years."

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