Seniors in Jennifer Hahn's Economics class had the opportunity to advance their business knowledge and gain skills they'll apply to their real-life businesses at the third annual Business 101 conference on Wednesday. Created in partnership with Villanova School of Business, the conference gave our Economics students the opportunity to attend two of four different business sessions: marketing, management, supply chain and finance. The event is often students’ first conference with college professors.
The Business 101 Conference kicked off with a virtual welcome from Dean of the Villanova School of Business Dr. Joyce E. A. Russell. Russell told the students that business is one of the top 10 most popular college majors and it’s a degree that gives the fundamentals to do most anything that you would want to do.
“I would say no matter what job you have. All (jobs) have to understand the world of business. Because you’re always going to be working around people and interacting with people,” she said.
Russell told the students that they are needed as leaders in our businesses today, and encouraged the girls to build up their leadership, communication and listening skills in order to be successful in business.
“I think that you as women leaders can really make a difference in terms of having a positive impact on society and to change things,” she said. “If we could get (women) at the top of a lot of our organizations, that could be really helpful. And one of the best ways to do that is through careers in business.”
As a significant piece of their Economics coursework, the girls put their skills to work to learn the various parts of a real business. This year, the students created their own business called Aggie’s Girls, where they did market research by sending out surveys to better understand their customers and developed a product: limited edition sweatpants. Mrs. Hahn said the students are still deciding on the sweatpants design and will be setting up a supply chain, price points and investors before they go to market. They have also determined that their company will be a purpose-driven company and will donate a portion of the sweatpant proceeds to a charity that has yet to be determined by the group.
With their Aggie’s Girls business at the forefront of their minds, the girls listened intently on Wednesday as the Villanova School of Business professors gave them a peek inside the business world and business major at Villanova.
In the marketing session, the girls learned the importance of brand storytelling and how essential it is to know your ideal customer. Marketing Professor Dr. Julie Pirsch explained that branding is about telling your audience the same things, all the time.
“This is who I am. This is my personality. This is my story and what I look like and this is what I can do for you,” Dr. Pirsch explained. “Marketing is creative problem solving driven by data.”
The girls learned the importance of the four functions of management -- planning, leading, organizing and controlling or feedback -- in the management session with Business Management Professor Dr. Narda Quigley.
Quigley explained to the students that a management major or career allows you to get past entry level positions at a quicker pace. She said management is both an art and a science. The science of the evidence, data and strategy can impact the business and the world. But the art of translating, adapting, and implementing those scientific findings for the practical world also needs to be taken into consideration when managing groups of people, Dr. Quigley said.
In the supply chain session, Analytics and Supply Chain Professor Dr. Katie Iacocca explained the factors that comprise supply chain management, such as sourcing raw components, production and operations, and distribution and transportation logistics. These systems, she noted, are subject to disruption, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest, natural disasters, and ethical concerns. Dr. Iacocca also provided insights into careers in the diverse employment opportunities related to supply chain management.
And in the finance session they learned from Finance Professor Dr. Meg Luo, who presented on corporate finance and the role of the financial manager. She described key financial concepts, such as funding and raising capital, operations, profit, reinvestment, and the role of the shareholder or investor. She also addressed assets, debt, equity, and provided some modern investment decision examples, such as Disney's purchase of Marvel Studios, Amazon's procurement of Whole Foods, and Wells Fargo's acquisition of Wachovia.
The students wrapped up the Business 101 Conference with some anonymous written reflections shared with the conference attendees.
One student shared, “My takeaway from management is that you can use it in multiple places in your life even if you don’t realize it.”
Another shared, “My takeaway from finance is that it is prevalent in everyday life and knowing the basics of finance can take you very far in life.”
“It is important to tell your story in marketing because your target audiences have to understand what product you are trying to sell,” a student who attended the marketing session shared.
And a student who attended the supply chain session shared, “I learned that the Supply Chain is one of the easiest areas to get a job because there are multiple different fields you can study.”
With the girls’ new knowledge in marketing, supply chain, finance and management, we can’t wait to see their Economics class company take flight!