Juniors Stephen Savas and Sam Pitchkhadze head up the inaugural FBLA Club @ SRDS.
Since 1940, the national organization Future Business Leaders of America has been inspiring and preparing students to become community-minded business leaders in a global society through relevant career preparation and leadership experiences. FBLA programs focus on:
- Leadership Development—members develop essential soft skills by holding chapter officer positions at the local, state, and national levels; by networking with accomplished business professionals; and by participating in business-focused workshops, seminars, and academic competitions.
- Academic Competitions—members demonstrate their business expertise at high-profile regional, state, and national competitive events. The top students are recognized with trophies and cash awards.
- Educational Programs—members create career portfolios, enhance their knowledge with world-recognized skills certifications, and have access to select college scholarships.
- Membership Benefits—members receive exclusive discounts and enhanced benefits for travel, education, and more.
- Community Service—members work with the March of Dimes to help end premature births by participating in awareness campaigns and the March for Babies fundraiser.
- Awards & Recognition—members build a portfolio of accomplishments with a wide range of awards programs.
Stephen recalls the first competition that SRDS students participated in:On March 7th, eight students representing three teams from Saddle River Day School traveled to Atlantic City for an FBLA business competition. Business competitions are held in every state in America. Clubs in schools within each state then choose one of 73 different topics of competition, and compete at their respective state competition. The top 4 teams in each topic of the state competition then move on to the national competition. The top performers in each topic at the national level will get scholarships of a few thousand dollars.
The winners are determined by two judges who evaluate the presentations based on a grading rubric that is available to the presenters online through the FBLA website. Every topic has a different rubric. For example, somebody competing in Emerging Business Issues may have a different set of criteria for their presentations than someone who is competing in the
Social Media Campaigns category. One thing, however, is consistent — only 7 minutes is allowed for the presentation.
In Atlantic City, eight students — Adam, Ethan, Evan, Morry, Sam, Tommy, and Stephen (that's me) — had a terrific time with our club advisor, Mr. Desai. We got to the hotel Tuesday night, and spent some time exploring the hotel. For dinner, Ethan went all out. He wore a full suit, making the rest of the group look messy in our t-shirts and sweatpants. Most of the night, we enjoyed ourselves in the rooms, where we played card games and just hung out. The next day, however, was time to get to business.
The team had arrived a day earlier than planned, so we had all day Wednesday to prepare for our presentations. After the first pass, we realized our presentations needed some adjustments. Some presentations were missing necessary information, while others were so detailed that it would be impossible to present in 7 minutes. So, we spent much of the rest of the day improving what we had. After hours of hard work, we had final products we could all be proud of.
Thursday was the day to present. We all woke up early (8am... we’re teenagers, okay?!) in order to get ready for the big day. Ethan, Adam, and Evan were up first, presenting in the category of Social Media Campaigns. For their presentation, they had to develop their own business model for a food delivery service based in an area with roughly 200,000 people. They created a business called “Healthier Home,” based in Sacramento, which targeted young professionals who wouldn’t have much time to make their own food. Their presentation did really well, enabling them to move on to the state finals.
Next up to present was Ben, Morry, and Tommy. These three were competing in the category of Emerging Business Issues. In this category, the three had to explore the positives and negatives of crowdsourcing, as well as provide a plan for the future based on how they evaluated the concept of crowdsourcing. They brought in real world examples — such as the failure of the Lily Drone or the success of the Pebble Watch — in order to strengthen their argument. The last to present were Sam and Stephen, who also competed in the Emerging Business Issues category.
Even though only one of the three groups made it to the state final, we all found this experience invaluable and enjoyable. It took us outside of our comfort zones and challenged us to use many different skills we had learned at SRDS, such as research, writing and public speaking. This was only the first year of this club meeting and competing and I look forward to what next year will bring.