In our first year participating, the College of Business and Economics team earned the Rising Stars award at the 2017 International Collegiate Sales Competition in Orlando, Florida. Led by Dr. Carlin Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and supported by Marketing Department Chair Dr. Tye Jackson, students Grace Flores and Greg Garcia competed against 140 students representing 70 different universities. The ICSC roleplay competition simulates real-world selling situations where students sell to professional salespeople who act as buyers. Students are judged by a team of faculty, salespeople, sales managers, and recruiters. The Rising Stars award is given to the top scoring schools entering the competition for the first time.
Professor Nguyen, who has previous experience at the event as a coach, said the challenging roleplay competition is the most realistic field experience students can get. Students must research an initially unfamiliar product then pitch and respond to questions from professionals and academics. Rather than being graded as a team, students received individual scores to make up a team score, which increased the pressure to arrive prepared.
Both Grace and Greg found the entire experience enlightening and inspiring. Grace left the competition with a new appreciation for a career in sales. She said the experience was very concentrated and intense – it made her reflect more on herself and how what she does also affects other members of the team. Greg was impressed by the level of professionalism of the other students and their readiness to compete. Both networked with hiring managers and professionals from the companies attending including Citrix and Aerotek. Professor Nguyen thought his team’s drive and skills would be a good fit for the competition and plans to bring a team to the event next year.
Although Grace and Greg didn’t know each other before the event they share a passion for talking to people and taking advantage of their college experience. Greg participated in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Business Pitch last year. Grace has been a member of the Financial Management Association student club and is an Admissions Ambassador for Cal State LA. They both encourage all students to get involved on campus and talk to their professors. Greg summarized the advantages simply, “Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from someone else.”