Many students — both undergraduate and master’s — in the Broad College are active in competitions all over the country. These competitions often require months of preparation, on top of students’ already challenging coursework. Although taking on the responsibility of competition can be demanding, Broad Spartans always rise to the challenge.

The team and associate professor Seung Hyun Kim celebrate the team’s first-place award.

Last month, a team of five hospitality business undergraduate students carried on Broad’s winning tradition at the STR Student Market Study Competition, held in New York City: Katie Harding, Allie Clarkson, Nicole Stein, Logan Fish and Sally Ran. They beat out 24 other undergraduate teams to win first place.

The team’s success was not the first exchange between STR and the Broad College. Earlier this year at an STR-hosted competition in Hong Kong, the Broad College stood out once again and won first place.

Duane Vinson, vice president of STR, remarked on how he is continuously impressed by the efforts of the college. “The bar was set high for the Spartan team coming into New York,” he said. “They delivered a well-polished presentation which brought them a consensus first place from the judges.”

The competition

The competition in New York, hosted by the STR Share Center, tasked students with completing an analysis of the hospitality industry for a market of their choosing. Using STR-provided data, teams were required to examine both current and historical economic trends and provide hospitality investment advising for the market.

The Broad College representatives chose to examine Boston. Seung Hyun Kim and JaeMin Cha, associate professors of hospitality business, served as the team’s coaches, mentoring the students throughout their preparation.

“Our MSU students began working in August to understand Boston’s market, analyze the data and draw impactful takeaways,” Kim said. “I am very proud of our dedicated students who consistently challenged themselves to excel.”

Stein explained the team’s strategy for their presentation. “Our goal was to convey Boston’s fortitude and resilience,” she said. “We put a spin on MSU’s motto ‘Spartans Will’ and named our presentation ‘Boston Will’ — this theme represents community, strength and the will to rise above a challenge.”

The Broad College team members set themselves apart from the competition by using resources beyond what STR provided. “We included outside sources such as Airbnb statistics, biotech data and conducted several interviews to provide a unique perspective on the market,” Stein explained.

Carl Borchgrevink, director of The School of Hospitality Business and John and Becky Duffey Faculty Fellow in Hospitality Business, attended some of the competition and had nothing but proud words to say of the Broad Spartans. “I watched our students compete in the initial round and they were by far the best team I observed,” Borchgrevink said. “They were confident, eloquent, funny, coherent and didn’t need notes or falter under pressure.”

Student thoughts

After attending the competition and taking first place, the students reflected on how the experience affected them overall.

The team of undergraduate hospitality business students continued Broad’s winning legacy, beating 24 other teams at the competition in NYC.

“Being able to travel to New York, share our findings and compete against universities from around the world was such a rewarding experience,” Fish said. “I saw just how passionate students are about the world of hospitality; this competition only cemented the fact that this is the industry I want to be in.”

Clarkson noted how valuable the team environment was to their success: “Participating in the STR Student Market Competition allowed me to be challenged with a task and overcome it with the power of teamwork.”

Ran also noted the value of teamwork throughout this experience. “I learned not only about how to work with my team but also got to practice my marketing analytical skills,” she said.

Harding commented on how the experience helped her overcome a lifelong fear of public speaking. “Presentations were always the first thing I would look for in the syllabus in order to brace myself,” she said. “Throughout this process, I overcame this huge fear of mine.”

News of the Broad Spartan team winning the STR competition was covered by Hotel News Now and Hospitality Net.