Taking care of business

Sarah Jones, senior and DECA president, was dressed in professional attire, preparing a business pitch as judges took notes. Given a scenario, Jones problem solved, striving to rank in the top. She was one of 60 DECA students from KHS to attend the district competition Feb. 12 at South County Mall. Out of these students, 28 qualified for state.

After taking a multiple choice test over Marketing Management, Finance or Hospitality,  students separated into their groups. There were both team and individual activities. Some of the topics included fashion, sports marketing, marketing management, accounting and selling.

“Ultimately, competition simulates a real-life scenario where they have to solve problems in a business situation,” Bryce Bunton, DECA adviser, said. “They’re competing against students from 15 other area schools. [Competitions] give students more professional and business experience if that’s the direction they’re going. [DECA] looks phenomenal on a resume and college applications. It’s an opportunity for [students] to build their business skills if that’s something they’re looking to do.”

To prepare for districts, members took a formal practice test Dec. 3. There is also a software program called Competition University which students can use for practice. The program offers practice quizzes, sample role play scenarios and video training tutorials. Any additional preparation takes place in business classes.

“[What I like about DECA is] the competition,”Jones said. “We have an impromptu business pitch and it’s just really fun to come up with creative ideas and see what you can come up with on the spot. It’s definitely made me consider [going into business later]. I don’t know for sure what field I’m going into, but DECA definitely provided me with good business skills which I think can be applied to any field.”

Ranking No. 4 in an individual activity or No. 2 in a team activity qualifies a student for the state competition. Meredith Lang and Jack Rintoul were the first freshmen from KHS to qualify for state.

“Me and my partner, Meredith, have been studying a lot recently, so I feel confident [that I’m prepared] for state,” Rintoul said. “But we will be competing against a lot of upperclassmen who have been there before, so we’re not really used to the pressure. We don’t know what to expect so it could go either way.”

The state competition will be held at the Lake of the Ozarks March 13-15. Since it falls during spring break, 11 of the 28 qualifiers will be attending. The business department has professionals in the business field come to KHS and critique them with constructive criticism to improve their skills.

“Some of the students are really prepared [for state] and some have some work to do,” Bunton said. “We have a while to work on that though so we’ll see how it goes. We have an executive from Fleishman-Hillard, which is probably one of the largest [public relations] firms in the world coming in to meet with Katie Hackett and JP Nash to sit down with them and watch their pitch, critique it and give constructive criticism. They can take that and figure out how to make their project better.”

KHS offers several business classes such as Startup, Introduction to Marketing and Business Communications. To participate in DECA, a student has to be taking at least one business class during the school year.

“I learned [from DECA] that there’s more to business than just being smart and knowing what you need to know to convince someone to make a business decision,” Rintoul said. “You actually have to be very personable and friendly and be able to explain it so that they understand what you’re saying. You can’t just write down a list and expect them to get it and understand it, you really have to explain it to them.”