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ASU business students use real-world knowledge to dominate international competition

W. P. Carey School students
June 02, 2014

Some co-workers like to blast techno music; others don’t respect your personal property, and every once in a while, businesses can seem like a zoo. Wrangling these situations requires a foundation in soft skills like leadership and professionalism, which W. P. Carey School of Business students begin learning from day one at Arizona State University. Six W. P. Carey School students recently used real-world business know-how to dominate at the Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference in Washington, D.C.

For more than 60 years, DECA has helped emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high school and college prepare for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Senior Hannah Sych says the W. P. Carey School has given the ASU Collegiate DECA team a competitive edge at club events against students across disciplines and from around the world. She is one of a half-dozen Sun Devils who competed at the spring DECA event.

All six students took home something, scoring a collection of honors and awards in various categories:

• Garrett Bentley – top 10 in retail management
• Bryana Blackmon – top exam score in fashion merchandising and marketing
• Katie Connell – first place in business ethics (team)
• Hannah Sych – first place in business ethics (team), Gold Diamond Leadership Award, State Leadership Award
• Rachel Van West – State Leadership Award
• Alex Yotter – top 10 finalist in restaurant and food service management

Sych, a former president of Collegiate DECA at ASU and a member of the Collegiate DECA executive board for Arizona, is a W. P. Carey School business major with a concentration in communication. She teamed up with W. P. Carey School junior Katie Connell, an accountancy major, to place first internationally in business ethics. In the final round of the conference, the duo delivered a creative, plausible solution to an ethical dilemma that could really happen today. They were asked to consider what a cleaning company that uses potentially unsafe equipment and environmentally dangerous supplies should do, since purchasing eco-friendly replacements would be financially burdensome. According to Sych, the resolution was clear.

“We proposed a budget, allocating 10 percent of net profits to a new eco fund,” says Sych. “That way, the company could use the fund to make necessary and desirable changes over time, rather than draining resources and doing so all at once.”

While not every school teaches soft skills at the undergraduate level, the W. P. Carey School makes it a priority. The school offers applied courses in communication, leadership, ethics, accountability and professionalism, and involves industry-leading organizations for added real-world emphasis.

Sych credits the W. P. Carey School for much of the success had by the DECA team overall. She says with three freshmen – Bentley, Yotter and Blackmon – excelling at an international competition, it’s clear the school is doing something right.

Sych feels her ability to talk about high-level concepts in real-world terms was impressive to the judges – all industry veterans. She adds that one of them even offered her and Connell jobs, and while she isn’t ready to move to D.C. just yet, she’s excited about her future and that of her fellow W. P. Carey School teammates.

“All of us are going to do amazing things in different areas all over the world,” she says. “It’s incredible to know that the tight-knit network we’re creating and leave today will have a global impact tomorrow.”

For more information about the W. P. Carey School of Business and its emphasis on real-world curriculum, visit

Hannah O'Regan,
(480) 965-7913
Web Content Communications Administrator
W. P. Carey School of Business