Ten Smeal Undergrads To Compete For Title Of 'The Next CEO'
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (March 26, 2007) – Weeks of research and studying will culminate for 10 Smeal College of Business students as they take the stage at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on April 23 to compete in the college's unique chief-executive simulation challenge, The Next CEO.
The contestants will have to think on their feet, posing as CEOs of multibillion-dollar global corporations to answer questions about how their companies should respond to complex business crises and major world events.
The annual competition, which was formerly called Smeal Survivor, is in its seventh year.
Several weeks of intensive preparation for the competition kicked off in February, when the students traveled to Washington for two study sessions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the world's most respected think tanks. The students heard from Erik Peterson, senior vice president of CSIS, about the coming "Seven Revolutions," which are major global trends identified by Peterson and his colleagues that will drastically alter international business throughout the next 20 years.
The students also heard from other CSIS scholars on issues like globalization, international demographics, and China's growing role in the world economy. At the end of the second session, each student was assigned a corporation, which they study up until the day of the competition, when they must employ the knowledge they gained in Washington to answer questions posed by Peterson and a panel of executive judges.
Each student will have only a couple of minutes to respond to the questions. The judges will eliminate students in several rounds until there is one student remaining who will be crowned The Next CEO.
Prizes for the top three finishers will be awarded by the competition’s corporate sponsors. The winner will receive $2,000 on PNC Bank Visa Gift Cards, presented by lead sponsor PNC. The runner up will win a laptop from Johnson & Johnson, and Shell will present the third-place finisher with two $300 gift cards—one for Shell and one for Best Buy. Dick's Sporting Goods is also a sponsor for the competition.
After being nominated for the competition by Smeal College professors, about 30 business students submitted applications and a letter of intent to a selection committee comprised of Smeal faculty and staff and a participant from last year’s competition. The selection committee identified 14 students to travel to Washington and then narrowed the field to 10 contestants after evaluating the students' interactions with CSIS scholars.
Smeal's relationship with CSIS began when Penn State alumnus William Schreyer, chairman emeritus of Merrill Lynch, served on the boards of both Penn State and CSIS. The first Smeal Survivor competition was organized in 2001 by students Atif Ghauri and Ryan Newman, after Ghauri interned at CSIS. Through the ongoing commitment of Peterson, CSIS, and Smeal, the event has become an annual, public competition judged by corporate partners.
The public is encouraged to attend the competition, which kicks off with Peterson's presentation on the Seven Revolutions (www.7revs.org). It begins at 7 p.m. in Presidents Hall.
This year's Next CEO competitors are Kim Brown, Schreyer Honors College senior majoring in finance; Lauren Calabrese, Smeal senior majoring in marketing; Robert Damron, Smeal senior majoring in finance; Monica Gokey, Smeal senior majoring in marketing; Alex Herman, Schreyer junior majoring in finance; Athena Kilpatrick, Smeal senior majoring in finance; Nicky Kundnani, Smeal sophomore majoring in economics and finance; Justin Matarazzo, Smeal junior majoring in economics and finance; Rob Michlovich, Smeal senior majoring in finance; and Matthew Simonetti, Schreyer junior majoring in economics and finance.
The judges for this year's competition are Richard Johnson, chief financial officer, The PNC Financial Services Group; Miguel Martin, vice president for north east region sales, Philip Morris USA; Julie McHugh, company group chairman for virology, Johnson & Johnson; Andrew Seck, business planning and support manager, Shell Exploration & Production Co.; James Thomas, dean, Smeal College of Business; and John Wolfe, vice president and treasurer, Dick's Sporting Goods.
For more information, please visit www.smeal.psu.edu/thenextceo.