Presentation Practice

First-year Sawyer Business School students (voluntarily) spend a Saturday networking and honing their business skills
Students from the fall 2022 SBS 101 SUCCESS presentations
The final four groups after the competition was over. "In spite of a pandemic that affected our participants' later high school years, from a business standpoint our 48 learners articulated persuasive and credible arguments to the judges," said Professor George Moker.

They didn’t get credit or a grade. It wasn’t required. And it happened to be a beautiful fall afternoon in Boston—the kind you don’t want to miss.

And yet 48 first-year Sawyer Business School students in the SBS 101 course chose to head to the windowless basement of the Samia Academic Building to participate in the first-ever SUCCESS case study tournament. (SUCCESS stands for “Suffolk University Community for Career Exploration and Success.) They spent the day working on a case study about streaming channel Disney+, exploring the financial and strategic implications of various business scenarios.

The goal? Help students build their problem-solving skills and presentation abilities ahead of their end-of-semester presentations in December.

The competition involved three initial rounds, plus semi-finals and finals. Teams of 4-6 students presented their findings to a panel of volunteer judges, many of whom were Sawyer Business School alumni. After each round, teams received new information to incorporate into the next round, and had only 20 minutes to research and prepare updated presentations. The final four teams ended up completing four all-new presentations in just under six hours.

“One goal of the competition is to help students build their business skills ahead of their end-of-semester class presentations in December,” says Professor George Moker, the Business School’s new assistant dean of student transitions. “But we also put this together to give students more connection to their fellow first-year students.”

Moker points out that events like the SUCCESS tournament help first-year students feel a strong sense of purpose and belonging within the Suffolk University community. “You can see the confidence building with each new data point that had to be incorporated into their analysis,” he says. “In spite of a pandemic that affected our participants’ later high school years, from a business standpoint our 48 learners articulated persuasive and credible arguments to the judges. Very impressive!”

Tough Questions

The 11 judges took their roles seriously by asking hard-hitting questions after each group’s presentations. “What about subscription fatigue?” “How would you sustain the two-year transition if Disney+ sells Hulu?” “What if Hulu says no to a partnership?” The students held their own, according to the judges.

Emily Maguire, BSBA ’22, was especially impressed. “I’m blown away that they did this all on their own,” she says. “That speaks volumes about what matters to them and why they’re in school.” As a recent Business School graduate, Maguire feels she can give a perspective that the current students would appreciate. Her advice to the groups? Network as much as possible now. “Get your 500 LinkedIn connections before you walk across the stage to get your diploma,” she advises.

For the students, it was an engaging experience as well.

Zoë Price, Class of 2026, had experience with public speaking throughout high school but hadn’t put together a business presentation. But after spending most of a Saturday doing them, she feels “super prepared” for anything coming up in her classes.

“I picked up a huge amount of skills in that six-hour period because everything was so fast paced,” she says. “It makes everything seem a bit easier moving forward.”

Final presentations for SBS-101 are December 3, 2022.


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs