Business Professionals of America prep for January 22nd regional competition

A still of the computer simulation designed by a team of students representing East’s Business Professionals of America. ¨I´m most nervous to receive criticism from the judges because at that moment everything´s on the line,¨ junior Jeet Patel said. ¨There’s only one take so if you mess up once it´ll define your results.¨ Photo courtesy of BPA.

As the Regional competition for East´s Business Professionals of America (BPA) is right around the corner, members of the club held a meeting Thursday, December 16th, to practice their presentations. 

BPA is a competition-based club that gives students the opportunity to further explore business outside the classroom through competitions in finance, management, research, and public speaking.

Four of the teams competing in the regional competition practiced their presentations for their selected category in front of the executive board and club sponsor Graham Brown. Board members offered feedback on presentation content, helped students with professionalism, and shared their own experiences with the competitions.

The first presentation came from sophomores Olivia Schwab, Jensen Coondrat, and Peace Fonanih, who are competing in the Computer Animation category. The team created a 3D-animated music video parodying the song “Monster Mash.” Coonradt said the team worked hard while designing the various dancing monsters in their video and while presenting their project.

¨I´ve never presented anything on computer animation before and often schools don’t have an in depth rubric to tell them they need ´this, this and this,´¨ Coonradt added. ¨It’s open to different interpretations so it’s hard to know what the judges are expecting or how everything will be scored.¨

Most of the feedback provided was universal amongst all of the groups who presented at the meeting – better eye contact, more professional posture and more improved introductions. In addition to those changes, the board suggested more diverse dance moves, rather than repetitive jumping and twirling movements. The animation team hopes to utilize a more advanced programming software, Blender. 

According to Coonradt, Blender is the software used by most professional computer programmers. 

¨Demonstrating our ability to use Blender, as opposed to more basic softwares, such as Alice 3D, will impress the judges and hopefully allow us to advance past regionals,” Coonradt added. 

The remaining three groups were all competing under the Small Business Management category. Students were given a fictional scenario following a small food truck business that was facing problems with their management, location, and supply chain. Tasked with maximizing profit opportunities, teams focused on expanding the business’ social media and event opportunities like catering.

Senior Ryan Briguez and his team presented a revamped menu and financial analysis for the food truck,  hoping to expand into new venues such as sporting events. Briguez said that the team plans to revise their research and business plan for regionals.

¨A lot of our statistics and information came from group research we conducted while on a call. But after receiving feedback from the board, we plan to go to a local food truck and get some information there,” Briguez added.

One of the most common recommendations from the executive board was to create fake social media posts to demonstrate their ideas for the business. Freshman BPA member Krisha Majmundar and her team created a sample website — complete with a menu and online ordering system — for their business concept. Majmundar said that the team spent a lot of time researching and still has improvements to make. 

¨I´m not necessarily worried, I just acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do,¨ Majmundar said. ¨We spent a lot of time on our research and ideas and only one day to prepare our presentation, so with more time we will be ready.¨

Briguez said that he also understands the need to refine their details and focus on clearly communicating their research and ideas.

¨During our presentation we definitely need to work on facing the judges and making eye contact,” Briguez added. ¨In terms of content the formatting is definitely a big part of it because they want us to make a financial plan instead of just giving a ton of numbers.¨

Given the limited amount of time teams had to rehearse their presentation, the board noticed they relied heavily on their notes, as evidenced by soft spoken tone and lack of eye-contact. 

¨I would say the two main things [teams] are working on [are] cohesiveness within the presentation and making sure the flow of ideas and transitions matchup,¨ junior executive board member Arjun Ramesh said. ¨And the other thing is just having the confidence to back up whatever they’re doing. Because clearly these people are putting in a lot of effort into whatever they’re doing so they just need to have that backbone there to provide support to whatever they’re saying.¨

Ramesh said that BPA members are fairly committed to the club and will return from winter break with improved presentations, confident in the club´s ability to send multiple teams to State and even Nationals. 

Brown said that each year the team sends more students to State, citing practice presentations like these ones as pivotal to helping students with improving their chances.

¨Each year we have gotten better, as far as the number of students we have sent to state and nationals,” club sponsor Graham Brown said. ¨I hope that we can get at least 80% of our students to advance beyond Regionals.¨ 

Following their return from winter break and with a renewed sense of confidence, the BPA competitors will finalize their presentations and head for West Chicago on January 22nd for their Regional competition.

Grace Praxmarer is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl