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SUNY Potsdam Business Administration Students Win Campus Career Readiness Competition

February 26, 2024
SUNY Potsdam Students Recognized with Business Principles & Professionalism Award 

The winning team and judges for the Fall 2023 SUNY Potsdam Business Plan Competition posed for a photo following the event. Clockwise, from top left, they included team members Lindy Betrus, Matthew Mapes, Adrianna Orlando, Benjamin Presley (Not pictured: Chris Ashlaw), and judges Joshua Stokes, Susan Portugal, Luis Tito and Cameron Claire.

SUNY Potsdam's Department of Business Administration once again hosted its Business Plan Competition, which challenges students to develop an entrepreneurial concept to fulfill the needs of a specific group of consumers. 

Teams in the Business Principles and Professionalism class spent the fall semester learning about the various components of business enterprise and applying the concepts in creating a rudimentary business plan. Divided into teams, the students honed their skills in goal setting, scheduling tasks, meeting deadlines, assessing progress, thinking critically, public speaking and developing a big picture view of a business enterprise. 

The competition was introduced in 1993 by Professor Dr. Edwin J. Portugal to give business administration students the opportunity to work intensively and collaboratively in teams to create a real-life business plan. The teams present their final strategic business plans in front of external judges, who take the role of venture capitalists. 

“They read real-world business cases and develop the confidence to present their recommendations to others. In addition to understanding the business language, they must be able to clearly communicate to others who may not have the deep understanding of the business situations,” Dr. Portugal said. 

The Fall 2023 winning team included: 

  • Lindy Betrus ’27 of Potsdam, NY 
  • Chris Ashlaw ’27 of Ogdensburg, NY 
  • Matthew Mapes ’27 of Fort Drum, NY 
  • Adrianna Orlando ’27 of Baldwinsville, NY 
  • Benjamin Presley ’27 of Greenwich, CT 

The winning team’s product proposal was for a ski attachment mobility device for assisted walkers to help seniors and individuals with impairments. 

“It was astounding to see the quality of work being done by these first-year students. Their creativity, thoughtfulness, thoroughness and spirit of entrepreneurship speaks to their commitment to the course and to Dr. Portugal’s exceptional mentorship,” said Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Alan Hersker, who was invited to coach the students on their presentations. “SUNY Potsdam is well known for our focus on applied learning, and these students are the best of the best. I hope to have an opportunity to work with them again!” 

From left, Chris Ashlaw, Lindy Betrus, Interim Provost Dr. Alan Hersker, Matthew Mapes, Adrianna Orlando and Benjamin Presley pose with their prototype product in preparation for their winning business plan presentation at SUNY Potsdam.

External judges were invited to evaluate the business proposals and listen to the pitches. Each team created a 20-page business proposal binder portfolio and a PowerPoint that they presented to external judges, including Josh Stokes, head volleyball coach at SUNY Potsdam, Cameron Claire, a non-business major, Luis Tito, an advanced business major, and Susan Portugal, an executive with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Corporation.  

The teams also built functioning prototypes of the products. Each judge brought a different perspective from which they asked questions about the business plans, ranging from the financial viability of the proposal, acceptance by customers, challenges of selling the product, dealing with competitors and estimating sales.  

After taking the introductory business course, the students will take additional courses in accounting, finance, human resources management, information systems, legal environment of business, business operations management, and marketing and principles of management.  

“After graduation, students are offered jobs in banks, financial services corporations, colleges, government civil service departments and other non-profit organizations. Others even create a business plan and start their own businesses,” said Dr. Portugal. 

SUNY Potsdam's Department of Business Administration offers flexible bachelor's and master's degrees in competitive fields, and provides students with an understanding of how for-profit and non-profit organizations function efficiently and effectively in the global marketplace. The College offers its undergraduate business administration program both at the Potsdam campus and in Watertown, N.Y., at Jefferson Community College. Its Master of Science program in management is offered 100 percent online, to serve graduate students around the world. For more information, visit 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit 

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