CSI Business Students Rise to the eBay Challenge

The team worked for months to perfect every aspect of their presentation.

In only their second year of involvement in the American Marketing Association (AMA) Collegiate Case Competition, students from the College of Staten Island (CSI) returned from the finals in New Orleans with a third place ranking. More than 100 teams from across North America submitted a Letter of Intent to participate in the annual competition, with the CSI group placing among the nine finalist teams that were invited to present their submission to a panel of eBay judges.

“Our students have done exceptionally well, particularly as new entrants. Other veteran institutions could not believe that the College of Staten Island was able to place among the finalists without a lengthy track record of attempts. It is my understanding that all of the other finalists had extensive experience entering this prestigious competition,” noted Susan Holak, PhD, Dean of the School of Business.

According to the AMA Website, the Collegiate Case Competition began in 1986 and is a yearlong event that brings together top marketing students to work on a marketing challenge submitted by a sponsoring organization. The case sponsor provides a detailed marketing problem for which it is looking to gain the perspective of North America’s best students, who compete by developing a marketing strategy as part of this nationally recognized competition. The sponsor, this year, was eBay, who was seeking ideas for expanding its market share among the Millennial and Generation Z populations.

CSI team members Jacqueline Barbarino, Joseph Curcio, Toufic Eid, Caitlin Fontana, Kimberly Hayes, Sydney Mojica, Margot Noyola, Tian Richards, and Nisma Zakria are enrolled in a new Advanced Marketing Strategy course with Dan Zhang, PhD serving as their faculty instructor and team mentor.

The team left New York early to avoid a snowstorm and arrived in New Orleans with plenty of time to prepare.

“I want to commend the efforts of Professor Dan Zhang, who worked tirelessly to prepare our students. This transformational learning experience will be a wonderful addition to our repository of information documenting how the School of Business meets AACSB standards related to student-student and student-faculty interaction as well as career and professional development,” Dr. Holak commented. AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, is an international accreditor of business schools.

Professor Zhang spent countless hours working with the students on all aspects of their marketing plan, including the presentation of the plan to the eBay judges. Everything about the plan and the presentation was developed as a coordinated team effort, including handouts, media materials, and the team members’ posture, diction, and attire.

Professor Thomas Tellefsen, Chair of the Department of Marketing, says that this is one of the premier competitions in the country for marketing students, and that the team’s accomplishment was remarkable. “Their success is the equivalent of winning the bronze medal in the Olympics. The CSI team faced very stiff competition and outperformed teams from some of the top business schools in the country.”

“Reflecting back on my journey as a member of the eBay Case Competition, it’s hard to focus on just one aspect of it all,” said team member Fontana.  “From the process of compiling information for the case to the trip to New Orleans and eventual presentation in front of the eBay judges, it would be an understatement to say I have merely learned how to market.  This case has opened my eyes to the potential within myself and other CSI students like my colleagues. It has shown me that when you least expect it, great things can happen where hard work is put in.”

This year’s team built upon the experiences of a group that began exploring the competition in 2016, alongside Professor Zhang’s development of the Advanced Marketing Strategy course. Those students opened the door to full participation by registering the School’s Marketing Association as an AMA student organization.

As the School of Business continues to develop its emphasis on experiential learning, outstanding students looking for intensive, immersive learning experiences in the School of Business will be able to seek further success in the coming years. eBay team member Sydney Mojica summed up some of the value of experiential learning, saying that the case competition “was something that you could never get in a traditional classroom and it’s something I think I will cherish for the rest of my life. Learning about the marketing world hands on and networking with other schools and marketing professionals really has made an impact in my career as a future marketer.”


CSI Student Competes for Miss New York USA 2017 Title

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Sabrina Mahmood, 22, of Graniteville, will compete for the title of Miss New York USA 2017 from Jan. 13-15 at The Purchase (N.Y.) College Performing Arts Center.

Sabrina, the daughter of Maria and Arif Mahmood, attends the College of Staten Island.

An excited Sabrina’s reveals this is her first attempt at any pageant and she looks with anticipation toward its outcome.

Sabrina whose activities and hobbies include painting, running, and reading explains: “Of course I would love to win, but i think it’s really just going to be a great experience and something I can remember for the rest of my life.”

The Miss New York Teen USA and Miss New York USA pageants are official preliminaries to the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants — and Sabrina couldn’t be more proud  to be part of the entire experience.

The young woman chosen Miss New York USA 2017 will go on to represent the state of New York in the 2017 Miss USA pageant as seen live on FOX television, one of the most anticipated television events of the year.

FYI: Sabrina’s pageant dress is from Ultimate Fashions in the Staten Island Mall, her dress pageant sponsor.

The prospective titleholder goes on to say, besides school she’s active in her family business, Omar Jewelers in Meiers Corners.

“I am studying accounting at the College of Staten Island as well and I hope to be finishing my bachelor’s in about a year. I feel like becoming Miss New York USA would be ideal for me because it would allow me to be more involved in the community and I would be honored to represent my home State of New York.”

This article by Carol Ann Benanti was first published Nov. 30, 2016 on www.silive.com.  It is reprinted here with permission.

From Products, to People, to Politics: the Value of the Trump Brand

The School of Business at the College of Staten Island Hosts Noted Brand Strategist Robert Passikoff, Who Speaks About the Value of the Donald Trump Brand

Robert Passikoff presents at the College of Staten Island School of Business.

Dr. Robert Passikoff, an award-winning brand strategist and analyst, and founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc., spoke to a crowd of more than 250 students, faculty, alumni and other guests at the College of Staten Island on November 9, 2016 – the day after Donald Trump was named the President-elect of the United States.

In her introduction of Dr. Passikoff, CSI School of Business Dean Susan Holak noted his pioneering work on consumer engagement and loyalty, resulting in the creation of brand indices for products, sports figures, and fashion.  Passikoff’s presentation touched upon aspects of marketing, communications, and consumer behavior, and underscored the importance of the emotional connections that consumers feel to brands.  He examined different types of brands and their impact on the value of the products with which they are associated, describing a spectrum from everyday commodities and services to luxury brands and so-called “human brands” like Michael Jordan – and, of course, Donald Trump.

Noting that he has followed the Donald Trump brand for more than 25 years, Passikoff stated several times that his studies and analyses carefully avoided a political focus.  Rather, they are aimed specifically on the Trump brand and its impact.  Dr. Passikoff used the example of an apartment building to illustrate how the Trump brand can affect the perception and price of a product, and then extended that discussion to show how the impact of the brand had changed at several crucial pre-and post-election moments.  Dr. Passikoff shared analyses that Brand Keys had performed overnight immediately following the election, which pointed to the increased value of the Trump brand following declines over the last several months.

A former advertising industry executive and professor, Dr. Passikoff ensured that the event was not only informative and entertaining but also an educational experience.  According to Mohamed Safa, Secretary of the CSI Marketing Association, the speaker had “a terrific sense of humor, and he gave us great insight into the future of analytical marketing.”  Numerous questions from the audience followed the talk.

CSI Provost Dr. Gary Reichard remarked upon the level of student engagement, stating that he thought “the number of questions that students asked indicated a high level of interest in the very timely subject.”

Several invited alumni returned to the College for the event, including Mallory Baio, the former president of the Marketing Association.  Baio said that it was the most interesting talk she had ever attended, and that she had arranged to be there because she still feels a sense of connection to the School of Business and to the College.  She was also able to reconnect with some of her former classmates, who were either alumni themselves or were serving as student ambassadors for the evening.



CSI Alumna Elisa Csorba Dares to Follow Her Dreams

Elisa Csorba '16 enjoying her new career at the Walt Disney Company.

As Elisa Csorba ’16 is a self-proclaimed “Disney fanatic,” it should come as no surprise that on the day after graduation, the Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate boarded a train to Florida to pursue a career at the Walt Disney Company.

Now living her dream, Csorba has secured a position as a Disney Professional Intern in the Customer Relationship Management Marketing department for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Orlando.

“I was able to accept this position confidently, thanks to my education and research experience at CSI,” said the Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn graduate, who worked with Dr. Jonathan Peters and Dr. Michael Kress at CSI, “learning more about the world of data than I ever could have imagined possible.”

At CSI, Csorba used her knowledge of data to spearhead Staten Island Economic Development Corporation initiatives, such as Superstorm Sandy Recovery and Staten Island Fair Share. In 2014, she helped to create an Emergency Preparedness Guide for the disabled community on Staten Island, as many members of this community were not appropriately accounted or cared for in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.   She also participated in marketing research under the mentorship of Professor William Dubovsky, where she assisted in a semester-long study of the Staten Island Museum to determine how the institution could make itself more marketable and drive higher demand.

At MHC, Csorba was thankful to be “given the best of both worlds: a four-year scholarship with Macaulay and an opportunity to study with the best mentors and professors that CSI has to offer.”

“The School of Business at the College of Staten Island has presented me with such wonderful opportunities, and I am so grateful to have been given those experiences. Four years ago, the School of Business was merely a thought, an idea. This past June, I was part of the third graduating class of the School, and we comprise the largest discipline in the College of Staten Island–if that isn’t success, then I don’t know what is.”

Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, commented, “We are tremendously proud of Elisa, her accomplishments thus far, and the role that the School of Business and the College of Staten Island played in helping her to fulfill her goals. We look forward to hearing more about the promising future that we know lies ahead of her.”

A member of the Young Alumni Committee of the School of Business, Csorba fully intends to remain in contact with the School and “all of the professors who have enriched my life in so many ways… I look forward to helping college students understand their dreams and pursue their goals. I’m well aware that the only reason I was able to pursue my dream so successfully was because of the support and encouragement I received from the team of professors and administrators who were behind me every step of the way, and I am so excited that I can now be a source of support and motivation for others.

“So dare to follow your dreams and do whatever will make you happiest in life; dare to do the unexpected and extraordinary; and dare to make a change in the world. Because all it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”



MHC Student Austin Krauza ‘16 presents Research at MIT and Albany, on Fuzzy Clustering Algorithms for Data Analysis

Krauza presenting at the IEEE Undergraduate Research Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

At 21 years old, Austin Krauza is already an accomplished researcher. The College of Staten Island (CSI) Computer Science major, with an interest in business and data analytics, recently authored a paper under the mentorship of Dr. Natacha Gueorguieva, which he presented at the 2015 IEEE Research Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA this past November. Krauza’s was one of only 20 papers accepted, and he also presented similar research to lawmakers in Albany in February. The student also co-wrote a paper that was presented at the 14th IEEE International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications in Miami, FL in December and he has several journal articles to be published in the coming months.

The Monsignor Farrell High School graduate works with CSI professors in a wide variety of disciplines, assisting with various research projects, and he is enthusiastic about his academic career at the College.

Austin Krauza in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia.

“Attending the College of Staten Island has been a fantastic experience. From the time I stepped foot onto the campus, the professors were there opening doors into the world, introducing me and my peers into an uncharted world,” said Krauza.

Maintaining a 3.8 GPA, Krauza is pursuing the Advanced Certificate in Business Analytics of Large-Scale Data offered by the School of Business, which he expects to complete in 2016. In his sophomore year, he began working with Dr. Gueorguieva in the Department of Computer Science to conduct research in the field of Fuzzy Clustering Algorithms for Data Analysis. This research has several applications in the medical, law enforcement, and fraud-detection fields. The applications can be used to find patterns and cluster them within a large data set.

Krauza also works with Dr. Jonathan Peters, Dr. Michael Kress, and Nora Santiago at the CUNY High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC) and Social Policy Simulation Center at the College. In addition, the Great Kills resident worked on a mini-research project for his class in the field of New York State (NYS) Statewide Exam Scores and presented to professors from several senior CUNY colleges.

His areas of research focus on large-scale data sets (such as transportation and tolling) where the record count can exceed 210 million records. Such data sets require special processing using the various super-computing clusters located on site at the College. Some additional research projects include semantic and text analysis of unstructured data sources (such as social media networks, primarily Twitter) and the use of various Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and visualization packages to present often complex data sets in a more understandable format.

Krauza is the recipient of two undergraduate mini-technology research grants and an undergraduate research grant. He was also named a Revson Scholar by the Macaulay Honors College.

The student credits Dr. Charles Liu, Lisa French, and Anita Romano at the Macaulay Honors College for much of his success. “Both Anita and Lisa work tirelessly with each and every student, providing them with guidance and advisement, helping students discover the various opportunities that exist inside and outside of campus. Without this fantastic team, the Macaulay Honors College would not be what it is and would not be able to produce such amazing college graduates,” said Krauza, pointing out that Dr. Liu and Romano introduced him to Dr. Peters, whom he assists with various research projects.

Krauza at Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney, Australia

Adding to the breadth of his college experiences, Krauza traveled to Australia in December 2015 to study cross-cultural business management. The study abroad trip, sponsored by Queens College, allowed him to study at the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS). Krauza also enjoys running and plans to run a half marathon in the coming months.

Austin has even already accepted an offer from Verizon Wireless to work as a Data Scientist for their Call Center Operations team in Warren, NJ upon graduation in June 2016. His focus will be working with various teams and departments, and data sources to improve company performance in their United States and worldwide centers. He would like to pursue his Master’s of Science in either Data Analysis or Statistics and possibly a PhD. He also hopes to be able to take the refined skills and abilities that he gains in private industry and assist local social policy groups, such as the Community Education Council (CEC). Eventually, Krauza hopes to be able to come back and share his experiences in the field of data by becoming a professor at CSI.

Krauza (right) at the top of the Sydney Tower, Australia.

“Teaching and mentoring others has always been a passion for me,” noted Krauza, who also tutors Macaulay Honors students. “Moving back into the world of academia would allow me to work hands on in the field that I love and pass my knowledge on to others.”






The Business of Healthcare: Michael Dowling presents at CSI

Michael Dowling speaks to an audience at CSI

A Joint Presentation of the School of Business and the School of Health Sciences: Mr. Michael Dowling, the President and CEO of Northwell Health (formerly the North Shore-LIJ Health System) spoke at the College of Staten Island on Thursday, November 12, 2015, to an audience of students, faculty, College administrators, representatives from Staten Island University Hospital, and other members of the healthcare industry along with a member and staff from the New York State Assembly.

The event was organized jointly by the College’s Schools of Business and Health Sciences, and was oriented towards an examination of the growing intersection between these two domains.  A panel discussion followed Mr. Dowling’s presentation where representatives from the School of Business, the School of Health Sciences, the New York State Physical Therapy Association, and Staten Island’s District 63 added their own disciplinary contexts to the President’s remarks.
In her introduction of Dowling, Susan Holak, the Founding Dean of the School of Business, helped to contextualize the event for students and everyone in attendance:  “Healthcare expenditures in the US are on track to hit $3.2 trillion this year – that’s an average of $10,000 per person.  The industry is complex and sensitive to many forces.”  Dr. Holak added, “[healthcare] is one of the fastest growing business sectors worldwide,” that “encompasses a wide range of specialist areas across a broad spectrum of operations, including some that fall into the general domain of business.  It is that intersection that we are examining tonight, through a variety of lenses.”
An extremely engaging and interesting speaker, Michael Dowling addressed the impact of different types of legislation on the healthcare industry, as well as on the effect of ever-changing technologies on the way that patient care is delivered.  Dowling noted that expectations relating to the quality and types of service are affected not only by patients and their families, but also by developments and shifting directions in research as well as in legislative agencies – in addition to changes in the mission of a hospital itself.

Dean Hoak, President William Fritz, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Michael Dowling, Dr. Maureen Becker

A panel of speakers representing several diverse perspectives took part in a discussion following Dowling’s remarks.  Interim Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Dr. Maureen Becker, collaborated with Dean Holak to invite panelists to contribute unique, disciplinary frames of reference.  Each was asked to open with a few words on their particular point of view before taking questions from the audience.  Michael Cusick, New York State Assemblyman, Dr. Soon Ae Chun, Professor of Information Systems and Informatics at the College of Staten Island, Michael Mattia, President of the New York State Physical Therapy Association, and Dr. Marie Giordano, Assistant Professor of Nursing at CSI – all illustrated the finer points of their own experiences and approached the issues raised by Dowling from their distinct perspectives.
The event highlighted how students at the College of Staten Island, regardless of their field of study, are able to take advantage of the world-class opportunities that are made available by the institution.


Jon Peters featured expert for APP

The front page feature in the Asbury Park Press, “A tax by any other name: NJ pays one-fifth of all tolls in U.S.” by Mike Davis features Professor of Finance Jon Peters with the School of Business as the go-to expert on tolls.

“It’s a significant household burden, in terms of cost of living, especially on the lower-middle class,” said Jonathan Peters, a finance professor at the College of Staten Island, who serves on the Fair Haven town council. “If you’re a lower-income wage worker, you probably need a car to get to and from work.”

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