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Pitching the perfect plan

Case by case, a group of Northeastern students is earning high praise for their business knowledge and strategic marketing prowess.

The club, Northeastern University’s Huntington Management Consulting (NUHMC), took first place at The Marketing Summit held at Wake Forest University, February 3–5. The students — Greg Milne, Chris Rossignol, Andrew Rothbaum and Rani Pimentel — bested undergraduate teams from five other institutions in developing a marketing plan for global lifestyle brand Nautica, and captured the $10,000 top prize.

The four students are part of a 12-member undergraduate club that is focused on management consulting and strategy. The club provides students with real-world experience not only through intercollegiate competition but also by taking on strategic consulting cases for local firms and nonprofit organizations—and relentless practice in between.

“We come out of this program with the confidence going into full-time careers or master’s degrees that we wouldn’t have received anywhere else,” Rossignol says. “We’re all so invested in this.”

This latest win continues the group’s momentum for upcoming competitions at Georgetown University later this month and at McGill University in March.

The students, all in Northeastern’s College of Business Administration, attribute their success to a number of factors, including their dedication to preparation and the intensity they bring to competition. They also credit their advisor, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy Raymond Kinnunen — whom the students call “Coach K” — and point to a strong network of alumni who judge their presentations and provide critical feedback.

“Co-op also gives us a big edge,” Pimentel adds. “We’ve actually worked at these companies. That’s a huge advantage.”

While the NUHMC became an official club last month, Kinnunen has been guiding students in business competitions for more than a decade, helping them win 11 of the last 13 B-School Beanpot Case Analysis Competitions held annually until 2009 for undergraduates at Boston-area business schools. That success led to invitations to competitions across the country and abroad, which included a prestigious first-place victory for Northeastern in the 2009 Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) International Case Competition. Kinnunen also teaches a course that culminates with an internal case competition in April.