Last week, five students from the Stafford School of Business competed in a business case competition at the Small Business Development Center in Atlanta. The business plan competition saw 12 schools vying for eight spots in the finals to be held next month.
Susan Driscoll, Dean of the Stafford School of Business, says the outcome of the event was a surprise to everyone there but ABAC. “Of all the schools, we were definitely the smallest in size and stature,” Driscoll said.
Those who competed included teams from Georgia Tech, Emory, Georgia, Georgia Southern and West Georgia. Lindsay Partridge, JT Ramsey, Gabby Hernandez, Allison Burke and Elizabeth O’Quinn represented ABAC, guiding the Stallions to the finals and beating out many major colleges.
The results of the Small Business Development Competition continues to show the growth experienced by the business school over the past couple years.
“When we first got here, the curriculum for the bachelor’s degree was very focused on economic development with not as much emphasis on general business management,” Driscoll said. “One thing we’ve accomplished is really good expansion of the curriculum. Private sector and public sector are both being covered in the curriculum now.”
The size of the curriculum isn’t the only thing that saw growth with the Driscoll’s arrival. Until 2012, the enrollment of the business school was in decline, reaching around 250 students at its lowest point. With enrollment now at 315, the business school is continuing growth seen by many of the other schools across campus.
“We anticipate we will be close to 400 next fall,” Driscoll said. “Where most of the growth is coming from is in students pursuing their bachelor’s degree. “
In addition to all of the changes and growth, the Stafford School of Business has started a popular speaker series which focuses on giving students that extra real world experience by talking with businessmen from around the country.
From former Navy Seal Coleman Ruiz to a former businessman turned former felon Aaron Beam, the Driscolls have offered a wide range of opportunities for students to ask questions to players in their field.
One of the student’s favorites was David Salyers, VP of marketing for Chick-Fil-A. The Stafford School of Business’s marketing class along with some of the Alpha Beta Gamma students will be traveling to the Chick-Fil-A cooperate headquarters in Atlanta in April to see a major company’s marketing office first hand.
“A lot of our classes had speakers,” Driscoll said. “All of our professors have embraced the idea of trying to bring real-world examples into the classroom.”
A few business school students also received a tour of Deer Run Plantation, a farm and ranch owned by former chairman of the Coca-Cola Company Doug Ivester.
“What was really cool about that trip was sitting down to lunch with Doug,” Driscoll said. “It’s not very often that a college student gets to ask any question they want to a guy that ran one of the world’s largest companies.”
These students also visited the world headquarters of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
“Our goal is in four to five years from now to have 200 in each class, so a total of 800 students,” Driscoll said. “We just need to continue to evolve with the business world and to make sure we’re bringing in the new technologies, we’re continuing to have them have the chance to network with business people and to keep tweaking it to where they really are prepared for life when they come out of this school.”