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Students and Alumni

Poole College Hosts Successful American Marketing Association Regional Conference


By Caroline Barnhill

On February 19, more than 150 attendees from seven universities across six states and three countries participated in the third annual NC State American Marketing Association (AMA) regional conference. The conference, held virtually due to ongoing COVID concerns, included insights from marketing professionals at leading companies such as Google and SAS on topics ranging from digital marketing post-COVID to data privacy in 2021.

Committee planning, led by CJ Falchi, a Poole College senior business management (marketing concentration) major and president of NC State’s AMA chapter, and Patrice Nealon, Poole College senior lecturer in marketing and AMA faculty advisor, began this summer. 

“The planning committee debated this summer about whether to cancel this year’s conference due to COVID concerns, but we quickly decided we could turn it into a virtual event,” Nealon says. “The mindset from the team was ‘We can do this.’ Based on attendee feedback, the event was an all-around success. The AMA leadership team is truly an incredible group of young leaders.”

Erica Smith, analytical lead of TB2B at Google, served as keynote speaker. Other speakers included Wilson Raj, SAS’s global director of customer intelligence, Betsy Mack, senior director of corporate social responsibility for the Charlotte Hornets, Ben Armstrong, CEO of 9Miles Media, and Thomas Armstrong, COO of 9Miles Media. 

“We were incredibly fortunate to have not one but five amazing speakers present at our conference with the ability to engage our audience using the virtual platform to its fullest potential,” Falchi says. “Attendees were impressed with the range of topics presented and free-flowing schedule during Friday’s conference. Thanks to the platform, HopIn, we were able to minimize technical boundaries and successfully unite these speakers online.”

Natalie Armbruester, a sophomore in the Poole College of Management, attended the conference and was particularly inspired to hear from Mack of the Charlotte Hornets. As an NC State student-athlete, she was reminded that change needs to be supported by passion and determination.

“She [Mack] described how the Hornets started promoting social justice causes years ago but realized with the death of George Floyd that they needed to do more. They were determined in their mission and even went to neighborhoods, knocking on doors and asking if people were registered to vote or needed help,” Armbruester wrote in a response to the event for her BUS-360 marketing methods course. “This showed me how important it is to be actively involved in any social change that needs to happen. This is such a big take-away for me because I am part of PackUnited, a student-athlete-led organization that fights for social justice. Hearing how the Hornets are going about this matter was very interesting to me and gave me insight into how PackUnited could advocate for social justice more effectively.”

In addition to various speaker sessions, student participants were eligible to compete in one of two marketing competitions – Federated Perfect Pitch, where students had 60 to 90 seconds to pitch themselves in a hypothetical job interview, and Digital Marketing Strategy, where teams of two to three students proposed an integrated social media strategy for a new target market based on a previously provided client background scenario. 

Simon Nagel, winner of the Perfect Pitch competition.

“Competitions were judged by a panel of professionals in related industries,” Nealon explains. “It is always good for students to compete outside their own university and see how they compare. Simon Nagel, a NC State student, wowed the judges to win first in the Perfect Pitch competition. Carnegie Mellon got us this year in the Digital Case competition, but watch out for NC State next year.” 

Gold sponsors of the event included Reunion Marketing and Federated Insurance, and silver sponsors included Cisco, TEK Systems and E&J Gallo Winery.