Winning two awards at the recent Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference in Chicago, including one as a member of a first-place Chippewa Valley Technical College student team, has convinced Mark Wacek that he’s headed down the right career path.
Mark, a first-year accounting major from Menomonie, returned from Chicago convinced he has what it takes to be successful in a career related to math, finance, or actuarial science.
“This experience just gives me the confidence that this really is the field for me,” he says. “I was able to compare myself against the best students in the country, and that confirmed for me that I’m doing alright.”
Mark, who plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance after completing his associate’s degree in accounting next year, was a member of the CVTC team that took first place in the Small Business Management Team category at the BPA national conference. Other members of the team were Sara Chase, Mitch Maloney, and Mike Olson.
“The whole team is really what won it for us,” Mark says, explaining that the members’ complementary skills allowed the team to respond well to the demands of the competition.
The team’s presentation to the judges proposed opening a new business at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo specializing in “earth-friendly” merchandise, including clothing and accessories. “It was a boutique that we were proposing, that’s what it was,” Mark says.
“Mitch (Maloney) organized the presentation and he facilitated it very effectively,” Mark says. And he credits Sara and Mike for devising excellent ideas for how to market the “earth-friendly” products.
Mark says he developed a plan to finance the business, and during the team’s presentation he answered questions about the boutique’s budget.
In addition to the first-place-winning team, CVTC students took home award medals and plaques for finishing in the top ten nationally in the following categories:
Third place, Human Resource Management: Mitch Maloney
Sixth place, Presentation Management-Individual: Sara Chase
Seventh place, Fundamental Accounting: Mark Wacek
Eighth place, Fundamental Accounting: Aimee Torrence
Tenth place, Administrative Support Concepts: Mary Stanley
Tenth place, Insurance Concepts: Mary Stanley
In addition to the students’ hard work, Mark credits Julie Miller, a CVTC accounting instructor who has been advisor to the college’s BPA chapter for the past 21 years, for her leadership. “She did a terrific job getting us prepared for the national conference, and she is just a great advisor for our group,” he says.
CVTC’s competitors at the BPA national conference were students majoring in accounting, administrative professional, business management or marketing. They qualified for the national conference by virtue of their outstanding performances at the state conference in March in Rice Lake.
“Participation in the national competition is a really big deal for our students,” Julie says. “Just attending the conference is important, but competing is a great experience for them. It gives them self-confidence and maturity. And it definitely enhances their leadership skills.”