Students excel at retail case competition in Montreal

Students excel at retail case competition in Montreal

December 1, 2018

Preparing to compete in the recent Tech Global Retail Challenge case competition provided the College of Business student team with a lesson in the value of collaborative thinking and building the right team.

The four-member team ended up with a Top 5 ranking in the competition held at McGill University’s Bensadoun School of Retail Management in Montreal, where they went toe-to-toe with 26 other teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the world. They also gained new insights into how their competitors approach challenges and arrive at workable solutions. The competition, held Nov. 15-17, was co-sponsored by McGill and the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

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From left: Victoria Kinley, Peter Dodson, Brianna Kravitz and Matthew Young

The team included Peter Dodson, an accounting and professional sales junior; Matthew Young, a finance and marketing senior; Brianna Kravitz, a management information systems and professional sales junior; and Victoria Kinley, who is majoring in interdisciplinary social science with a focus on political science, social entrepreneurship and marketing.

Traveling with the group was faculty adviser Luke Hopkins, assistant chair of the Department of Marketing and an assistant lecturer, who handpicked team members according to their compatible talents and work styles.

“The team’s synergy was amazing, and the students did an impressive job of balancing one another’s strengths and weaknesses, while respectfully developing the overall case strategy,” Hopkins said. “I could not be prouder of how these four students represented FSU.”

During the seven weeks leading up to the competition, the teams were charged with developing an eco-friendly product, service or business model that has the potential to transform the retail industry by targeting young consumers, specifically Millennials and Generation Z. The goals of the challenge were to ensure the future of retail and to equip the next generation of retail industry leaders. Student teams were required to collaborate using “design thinking,” which encourages business leaders to balance industry perspectives with consumer viewpoints.

The FSU team came up with Perfect Portions, a grocery chain that offers smaller food portions geared toward college students, young professionals and singles with an eye on minimizing waste. Packaging would be biodegradable, and the grocery chain would offer free classes on composting and sustainability in an effort to encourage environmental awareness.

In addition to learning about collaborative thinking and creativity though a series of online workshops offered by McGill in preparation for the competition, Dodson said the contest itself provided a glimpse into the other teams’ problem-solving methods, their work styles and their responses to pressure.

“I was impressed that Dr. Hopkins recognized our individual strengths and built our team based on what he thought we could uniquely contribute,” Dodson said. “As it turned out, the dynamics worked well, and that allowed our ideas to evolve until we settled on the idea for Perfect Portions. I learned from each team member and gained so much respect for their abilities and commitment to our project. It was a really great learning experience all around.”

To learn more about the college’s retail management program, contact Dr. Luke Hopkins, at

- Barbara Ash