Thursday, May 14, 2020

Under the umbrella of the Institute for International Business, a partnership between the Tippie College of Business and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, a team of University of Iowa students participated in and won the NASBITE International 2020 Student Case Competition. The competition was originally scheduled to take place in Annapolis, Maryland but was moved to a virtual format due to COVID-19.

The team representing the University of Iowa was comprised of three students: Stephen Paoletti (BA20), Ayotoluwafunmi Ogunwusi (BA20), and Stewart Knights. They conducted strategic market, consumer, and industry growth analyses to determine attractive business development terrains for a $40 million international cosmetics company, the Palladio Beauty Group.

The team identified a cause marketing strategy working with Sandra Ejang, a former UI Mandela Washington Fellow and recipient of a grant from the Dfcu Rising Woman Initiative that helps 650 mostly female entrepreneurs in rural Uganda. Their strategy creates a nearly risk-free market entry for Palladio’s products into a promising African market. Part of their recommendation was to manufacture the product in Africa to sell on the continent.

The competition allowed the students to apply skills learned in the classroom in a simulated real-world situation. Ogunwusi, a journalism student and filmmaker, said telling Ejang’s story via video was the best part of the project. Paoletti said he plans to use what he learned in the competition in future career roles.

“I want to work with sustainability consulting firms to help companies with their corporate social responsibility projects like we did with this project,” Paoletti said.

Knights, an exchange student from the United Kingdom, said, “This project enabled me to network with some of the top cosmetics experts in the world. It gave me a process I can use in the future to solve any business problem my clients’ might face.”

The team had preparation help from faculty coaches including Dimy Doresca, director of the Institute for International Business, and John Paul Engel, a lecturer with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. Several University of Iowa alumni including Kory May (BA91), Justin Englehardt (BA99), Anshil Popli (BA19), Tanner Gordon (BLS18), Lloyd Lee (BBA09), and Mike Davis (BBA05) also helped prepare the team for success.

“The Hawkeye nation is a valuable resource that our students can always rely on. We are grateful we could tap into these resources to provide the team with this experience of a lifetime,” Doresca said.