After four nerve-wracking weeks in the boardroom, Towson University senior Jhonell Campbell finally heard the words “You’re hired” when she won the 2015 edition of the College of Business and Economics’ signature business case competition, “The Associate.”
A business administration major with a concentration in legal studies, Campbell earned a job offer from 1st Mariner Bank with her concept for a new branch designed to not only increase client engagement and education, but also drive customers to the bank.
“1st Mariner Bank was lucky to be a part of the Towson University “Associate” program,” said bank President and Chief Operating Officer Robert D. Kunisch, Jr. “As the largest bank headquartered in Baltimore, we constantly look for ways to support our community. At the conclusion of the program we turned out to be the real benefactor.
“We were introduced to several great local companies, we witnessed eight outstanding millennials present solutions to complicated business cases, and in the end we got to hire Jhonell,” Kunisch added. “We are anxious to have her join the 1st Mariner team and are confident that she will tackle whatever tasks we put in front of her.”
Campbell envisioned the space as a place for customers to learn about finances as well as build connections with branch staff. She was inspired by Apple’s Genius Bar to design an educational area with 10-12 tablets and an interactive screen for demos and/or presentations. She also included a café to draw customers into the bank. Finally, she relocated and reduced the amount of teller stations to make space for fun interactive technology like coin counters and touchscreen kiosks.
During the competition, students work in teams to develop and present solutions to those challenges and are evaluated weekly with the potential for dismissal by a panel of judges and a “Donald” from a local business.
Challenges like developing a marketing plan for the Port Deposit (Maryland) Gas House visitor center, identifying target markets for local health food start-up B’more Organic, creating student recruiting materials for Cintas and increasing membership at Merritt Athletic Club via a television ad whittled the initial 10 contestants down to Campbell and Elizabeth Dickey.
“I decided to enter the competition after a professor encouraged me to do so,” Campbell said. “I knew that this competition would be a great learning and networking opportunity, but I was hesitant to apply because I honestly did not think I was smart enough. Having someone believe in my abilities, even when I did not believe in myself, was just the push I needed to succeed.”
Campbell quickly dove into the work, particularly during a challenge from a local smoothie company.
“My favorite challenge was working with B’more Organic,” she noted. “During this case, we were tasked with creating a marketing plan for the company that would increase brand awareness and suggestions on how to improve product placement within stores. My team was able to create a new bottle design, a social media campaign and brand ambassador program. This challenge was my favorite because I felt that the clients valued our recommendations. It was nice to see how excited they were when hearing our suggestions and it was even more exciting to see them use some of the photos we took on B’more Organic’s Instagram page.”
Being the last woman standing at the end of the competition also gave Campbell a feeling of accomplishment.
“Winning this competition and graduating with a job validates that I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to,” she remarked. “It was a true test of my perseverance, and I now feel prepared for anything that I might encounter in the professional environment.”
As someone who’s about to receive her Towson diploma next month, there’s no better feeling than that!