Deloitte Sponsors HS Students in 11th Annual Business Plan Competitions
Clinchy, Delaney and Blanc Are Mentors
By Carolina Salas
“I am just glad I am 53 years old and I am not competing with these kids!” stated Kenneth S. Clinchy, Senior Partner at Deloitte Consulting LLP in his closing remarks at the 11th Annual Citywide Business Plan Competition that kicked-off with much excitement on the morning of January 9th at the Deloitte & Touche Headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Sweaty-palmed but confident, aspiring young business executives from nineteen NYC public high schools, all of whom won earlier at borough-wide events, competed to secure a place in the National Business Plan Competition.
With job cuts exceeding 100,000 in the last week of January alone, landing a job nowadays is quickly becoming an extremely competitive endeavor to embark on. Fortunately, for participating high schools taking full advantage of Virtual Enterprises (VE) International, a program initiative of the New York City Department of Education, their high school students are gaining a competitive edge by engaging day in and day out in actual business tasks and activities that help them develop critical teamwork, time management, and leadership skills. Students in the program work in teams and make a collective decision on how to best run their VE Corporation, headquartered at their high school. They count on the guidance of their teacher, a consultant to their business, and the advice of their real world business partners. The products and revenues of the firms are virtual, but the work is real.
As the teams prepared to be put through the wringer by panels comprised of judges from private industry, education, and government, Iris Blanc, Director of Virtual Enterprises, International, motivated and energized the teams to “always seize the opportunity.” In between sales pitches of their business plans, we caught up with Megan Leung, CEO of Printing Depot at Fort Hamilton High School who said she wants to run her own business in the future and shared that, “the program definitely gives you a jump-start.” We got the chance to shadow Carpe Diem Advertising of DeWitt Clinton High School, witnessing first hand the high level of commitment, passion, and perseverance that each team brought to the competition. Timothy Holmes, its Executive Business Forecaster, shared he has “learned a lot of the business language and the mathematics of it all” through the program. Lending moral support at the competition was VE graduate Adriana Mediavilla, who got the chance to intern at JPMorgan Chase for 6 weeks in the Investment Banking group right after her senior year, before heading to Binghamton University. With a big smile and a sparkle in her eye, recalling her own experience, Adriana told us “the most exciting moment for all students at VE is the International Trade Fair because you get the chance to make the most profit, and get to meet students from other firms whom you’ve known only virtually up to that point.”
At the forefront in helping prepare the next generation of entrepreneurial business executives are Deloitte & Touche and Merrill Lynch, both premier corporate partners of Virtual Enterprises, International. Joseph P. Delaney, Director of Tri-State Alumni Relations at Deloitte, also known as the “Great Champ” “wants every kid to feel that they can be a champion by applying every ounce of their VE education to the success of the products and services they offer to their clients and customers.” Kenneth Clinchy firmly believes “we need to reach all the way back into the system and help prepare the next generation.” At Deloitte, Mr. Clinchy shared “we pride ourselves in having a big organization full of entrepreneurs. It all starts with the fundamentals. Through our partnership with Virtual Enterprises, International, we give the students exposure to the real world. Visibility to what’s actually happening in the world. It’s a great way for us to give back.” Steven Satin, a principal fully committed to the success of VE at Norman Thomas High School shared how Deloitte professionals stop by every Friday to work with the kids at their VE office. Vincent DiGaetano, VE coordinator at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, explained that “it is through trial and error that students become active decision makers, develop keen organization and time management skills crucial to the success of their VE business.” As such a pivotal and spirited day came to a close, we caught up with Martha E. Stark, NYC Commissioner of Finance who sat on the judges panel. She shared with us that “the skills exhibited by all of the students are at such high level! VE truly gives them all the opportunity to be in the business world… My heart goes out to our private partners.” Like Ms. Stark, we too were fascinated by the level of excellence demonstrated by the teams across all categories of the business plan competition, and like Mr. Clinchy, we too are happy we are not competing with these kids! But we definitely want to know what happens at the upcoming National Business Plan Competition on March 25th in NYC. The top four teams heading to Nationals are: 1st Place—VE Management, New Dorp High School of Staten Island, 2nd Place—The Printing Depot, Ft. Hamilton High School of Brooklyn, 3rd Place—VE Law, New Dorp High School of Staten Island, 4th Place—Carpe Diem Advertising, DeWitt Clinton High School of the Bronx. We wish them all much success!#