Success Stories

Students win national SAP award

Two students from Grand Valley State University's Seidman College of Business took top honors in a national marketing competition.

David Herrema of Holland, Mich. and Eric Koch of St. Joseph, Mich. won SAP's national marketing innovator 2009 competition, which ran June 11-12. They were awarded a trophy, plaques, and $3,000 each in scholarships. Elements of their plan will be implemented by SAP.

In the SAP Marketing Innovators contest, teams of students compete to create an innovative marketing campaign for SAP to help the company sell more software in the United States. To be successful, the team needed to understand SAP as a company as well as the buyers SAP is going after. The idea is supposed to be creative as well as practical. Contest entries also include a business plan which includes a business case and marketing plan explaining, marketing tactics, a detailed budget, and an implementation timeline.

“As users of SAP, we felt we had a leg up on our competition,” Herrema said. “We had no marketing experience besides our core business-marketing curriculum, but we were extremely process-oriented from our mentor and professor Dr. Simha R. Magal.”

Magal is the director of Grand Valley's ERP Initiative, which works to teach all business students about Enterprise Resource Planning systems across the entire business curriculum. Grand Valley has partnered with SAP AG Inc., the world’s largest enterprise software company, to help that curriculum evolution. Seidman College of Business is a member of the SAP University Alliances Program,  which allows it to receive software licenses and training at greatly reduced rates. Training, technical support and licenses for the use of SAP software represented an in-kind contribution totaling more than $9 million for the 2007-08 academic year. Grand Valley is one of a handful of schools nationwide that runs a SAP Certification Academy in the summer,.

Teams from around the country submitted plans in the competition, and five finalists were selected and invited to present their plan to SAP executives at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia on June 11 and 12. The finalists were Grand Valley, Widener University, University of Delaware, Drexel University, and Villanova University. The winning plan incorporates how SAP can utilize LinkedIn and personal messages to connect their sales force to top executives at corporations that are customers or could be potential customers of SAP.
“It really wasn’t the $3,000 that drove both of us to win, it was to show that we can succeed even at things that were outside our majors,” Koch said. “We got the opportunity of a lifetime to network and get to know top marketing executives at SAP, I don’t think we could of asked for anything more.”

Koch is an accounting and management information systems major works an intern at Steelcase in Grand Rapids. Herrema, a management information systems major, is an intern at Owens Corning in Toledo, Ohio. Last year, the pair won $10,000 each in scholarships from SAP.

"The fact that two MIS students won a marketing competition says a lot about our program," said professor Simha Magal. "We teach technology in the context of the businesses they support. We emphasize an understanding of business processes and the role of technology in supporting these processes.  This makes us different from many other institutions. I believe this is what allowed David and Eric to be successful in this competition."

by Brian J. Bowe

This story was filed with the tags: Awards, Business, Competition, Scholarships, Undergraduate Student