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Harris Claims Big Prize for WBC

8/1/2011

Brad Harris flashes an easygoing smile as he displays his trophy, but there’s no denying that the award he’s holding is a big deal. The Jonesboro native has delivered a national first place award to the Williams Baptist College business department.

Harris finished first in the category of Marketing Analysis and Decision Making at the national convention of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) collegiate business society, held in Orlando, Fla., this summer. It was the first time for a competitor from Williams to win a top PBL award on the national level.

"The national PBL competition is incredibly competitive," said Summer DeProw, chair of WBC’s business department. "Approximately 1,800 competitors from across the US converged on Orlando. These competitors must qualify through their respective state PBL competitions, so the competitors are the best of the best from each state."

Harris qualified for nationals by taking first place in Marketing Analysis and Decision Making at the Arkansas PBL competition in April. It is a two-phase competition, with participants taking a test in the first phase, and the top 10 contestants from the test moving on to a case analysis phase.

"The case analysis round is quite difficult," said DeProw. "The student has 20 minutes to read a case study and develop solutions for the business which is profiled in the case. After the 20 minutes has expired, the student presents their decisions to a panel of judges who are professionals in the field of marketing."

At the end of it, Harris was judged best in the country, beating competitors from some very prestigious institutions. But he said he was never intimidated by the competition.

"After I found out that I placed first it really made me sit back and realize just how good our business department is at WBC. When you think about how I beat students from Pennsylvania State University, University of California and University of Mississippi, who more than likely were marketing majors, it shows you the quality of the business administration degree at WBC," he noted.

In fact, WBC had a lot to cheer about at the competition, with Williams students claiming a total of six awards in various categories. In addition to his first place honor, Harris won a third place award in the category of Sales Presentation.

"The WBC business department has placed at the national competition every year we have participated. We have earned several second places in Business Communications and Telecommunications, but never a first place before this year," said DeProw.

The Williams business department head said the success they have enjoyed at previous PBL competitions helped pave the way for Harris to claim a first place award.

"This award was won by Brad, but all the alumni had a part in this special moment. Over the years we have implemented a mentoring system. The senior students mentor the younger students. They help coach and motivate the sophomores and juniors. The mentoring system helps everyone prepare for the competition," DeProw noted.

As for Harris, he is already applying his business education in the real world. He graduated from Williams in May with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and he works as the Arkansas sales representative for Jackson Furniture. And he speaks very warmly of his alma mater.

"The experience that I have had through my four years at WBC is invaluable. I honestly believe that you will not find a finer faculty that cares more for not only the quality of education for their students but also the quality of their students’ lives during and after their tenure at Williams. If I had been given the opportunity to choose all over again I would definitely find myself back at Williams Baptist College."

Harris, who now lives in Maumelle, Ark., is the son of Keith Harris and Pam Harris, both of Jonesboro. He is a 2007 graduate of Jonesboro High School.

Williams is a four-year, liberal arts college at Walnut Ridge. The WBC business department offers majors in business administration, computer information science and finance.

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