New Speaker Series: CrossTalks

CrossTalks Speakers in front of sign

The first CrossTalks event hosted by the Ciocca Center took place on Saturday April 6, 2024 as part of the College’s celebration of 50 years of coeducation. Cassie Gevry, associate director of the Center, introduced the new series bringing esteemed speakers to give provocative and engaging presentations to connect the community across campus, generations, disciplines, industries and beyond. This event showcased three alumnae: Julie Halpin Anderson ’84, Francine Rosado-Cruz ’94, and Carolyn Risoli ’86. They presented on “Discernment in Action,” highlighting the value that their liberal arts education and various majors bring to their work in business. 

Julie Halpin Anderson ’84, a French major, is a brand builder, leadership coach, and creativity accelerator, known as one of the industry’s most recognized and well-respected experts on brand strategy and creative expression. During her talk, she reflected on her journey as a Crusader, acknowledging past feelings of dissonance between her chosen industry of advertising and the Jesuit call to be a woman for others.  Julie recounted a pivotal moment when a colleague’s creative idea sparked a realization about the essence of her work in advertising – not just selling products, but facilitating moments of inspiration and creativity for others. This epiphany led her to explore the deeper significance of creativity and its potential connection to spirituality, prompting a shift in perspective towards her role as a facilitator of “goosebumps moments.” She further illustrates this by asking “what business are you in…really?” to help others uncover a deeper purpose and foster a sense of serving others, ultimately affirming her identity as a Crusader.

Francine Rosado Cruz ’94, an English major, is an HR strategist, consultant, and executive coach, considered to be a thought leader, influencer, and subject matter expert on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Francine embraces and embodies Jesuit values of magis, discernment, service rooted in justice and love, solidarity, and kinship, as they are symbolic to the most important values in her own career.  She started by reminiscing about her father’s humble origins in Puerto Rico and her family’s multicultural background. She recalled her journey through college, guided by their father’s insistence on a Jesuit education, and how the values such as cura personalis and magis shaped her career path towards DEIB work. Francine recounted pivotal cannonball moments, including experiences with her college roommate, career choices, and health scares, crediting the liberal arts for her ability to stay curious. In the end, she expressed gratitude for the Jesuit values instilled at Holy Cross, which continue to inform her personal and professional endeavors, advocating for a life of dialogue and unity.

Carolyn Risoli ’86, a history major, is a fashion and luxury industry executive with over 30 years of experience. She is a seasoned veteran and pioneer in the field. She starts her talk with the question the interviewer from her first job out of college asked her, “History Major? What are you going to do with that?”  Drawing parallels between historical analysis and business strategy, Carolyn highlights the importance of learning to “think critically, speak persuasively, and write effectively” as well as developing pattern recognition as a means to predict consumer behavior. She encourages students not to focus solely on job-specific skills but to embrace the broader perspective and adaptable mindset fostered by liberal arts education, which equips them to thrive in an ever-changing world. She closes with “So what can you do as a history major? Pretty much whatever the future throws at us.”

This CrossTalks event will be the first of many.  If you are interested or know someone who might be great at sharing their story on stage in < 15 minutes, apply to be a CrossTalks speaker.  We encourage you to take this opportunity to inspire others with the connections you have made between your studies and the value you bring to the business world. 

Stay tuned for links to the recorded talks in the coming days! 

WooTank Intercollegiate Showdown

Rob Murner speaking

On April 2, 2024, eight student-run organizations participated in the inaugural WooTank Intercollegiate Showdown at the BrickBox Theater in Worcester hoping to secure real investment for their startup company. Student entrepreneurs hailing from the College of the Holy Cross, Clark University, Nichols College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, presented to a panel of esteemed and notable sharks. Among them, Brian Geisel serving as the CEO of Geisel Software, Mark A. Wingertzahn, Ph.D., holding the position of Head of Development at INVIVYD, and Margaret McEvoy-Ball, with 40 years of experience in technology marketing and sales. 

Representing the College of the Holy Cross were TJ Haigh ‘26 showcasing his app Trivflic and Logan Mott ‘27 and his brother Skylar Mott (who attends Leigh) revealing their invention Mark-It. Trivflic was awarded $2,000, and Mark-It received $1,500 to continue the growth of their initiatives. Moreover, all teams received valuable in-kind rewards, including 100 hours of mentorship from the sharks, WorcLab memberships, strategy sessions with Mike Mitchell, and meetings with MassVentures.

Congratulations to our students from the College of the Holy Cross for their pitches: 

– TJ Haigh ‘26 founder of Trivflic

– Logan Mott ‘27 and Skyler Mott founders of Mark-It

Tj Haigh, Logan Mott, and Skylar Mott

Further congratulations to the following students pitching from Nichols, WPI and Clark:  Continue reading “WooTank Intercollegiate Showdown”

11th Annual Cross Tank Competition

Winners of the Cross Tank Competition

The 11th annual Cross Tank Competition took place on Monday, March 25th, at Smith Labs 155, hosted by HC Launch through the Ciocca Center. This year showcased an array of pitches, highlighting fresh and innovative approaches to problem-solving. Ideas ranged from optimizing track and field distance tracking to unveiling a 100% waterproof fabric, an app for musicians to collaborate to, and more.

Our panel of judges brought a wealth of diverse expertise to the table, featuring 2022 winner Nick Lazzaro ’23, Venture Forum Executive Zak Dutton, and Adjunct Professor and Healthcare Executive Tom Patton ’86. Teams vied for a total prize pool of $9,250.

The competition unfolded in two categories. In the Concept Stage, participants presented business ideas poised for launch:

  • First Place ($1,500): 

Continue reading “11th Annual Cross Tank Competition”

Students Explore Business Over Winter Break

Students at Fidelty Networking event with Tom Jessop '88 President of Fidelity Brokerage

Kicking off the spring 2024 semester, 160+ students participated in four concurrent workshops the week before classes began.  The week of January 18-22 was led by 25+ alumni presenters and mentors in the following areas:

Fullbridge Professional Edge: This simulated workweek provides exposure to the basics of business and an opportunity to collaborate in teams through active learning culminating in a final presentation where students present a growth idea for a Fortune 500 company. Special congratulations to Team Under Armour for the innovative growth idea securing them each the top prize of a $300 Apple gift card! Kathryn Sweet ’26, Charles Bacon ’27, Marisa Mamak ’27, and Mary Powers ’27 led by Coach Carmen!

Corporate Finance & Banking: 38 students toured at top Boston banks including Bank of America with Ted Lynch ‘84, SV Health Investors with Tom Flynn ‘87, and Natixis Asset Managers with Beatriz Pina Smith ‘87.  The highlight of the workshop was the fourth annual networking event held at Fidelity, hosted by Tom Jessop ‘88.  

Interview Prep: Personal branding and a core value proposition are key to successful interviewing. 86 students further developed their elevator pitch and practiced interview skills with the Center for Career Development followed by successful career tips from notable alumnae including Mimi Doherty ‘02 and Christina Imrich ‘08.

Marketing Communications & Sales: Alumni led 34 students through the practical exploration of advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations including, JR Butler ‘08, Catherine Cote ‘18, Tyler Dooley ‘17, Katie Macdonald ‘07, Kerri Mannion ‘19, Courtney Quinn ‘96, Cal St. Denis ‘08.  Teams competed in the PepsiCo Challenge, each tasked with bringing SodaStream to the next level with short- and long-term strategic thinking. Thank you to our PepsiCo judges Rowan Burgess ’23, Maureen Connolly ’18, Alex Smith ‘14, and Chris Vandervoorn ’19.

Many of the students participated in more than one opportunity as they worked towards Business Certificate Program completion, including the month-long Excel Tutorial offered during the month of January.

Check out the @holycrossbusiness Instagram page for photos from the event and follow to stay up to date with future programming and highlights. 

Entrepreneurship Course Students Pitch Business Ideas for Final Presentations

Students Presenting

Thursday, December 7th marked the last day of classes and final presentations for students in the Entrepreneurship Class taught by Tom Patton ’86. Students presented business ideas to a panel of judges from SV Health Investors, including Andrew Capetta,  A.J. Rossi, and Megan MacDonagh.  SV Health Investors is a venture and private equity investor that backs entrepreneurs in the healthcare space. 

Students pitched their ventures on a variety of innovative topics including:

  • PennyVentures, an app to support students who study abroad that combines budgeting, social media, and connections to local restaurants and services vetted by users.
  • Bass River Cruise, a luxury boat company providing unique water bound experiences on the Cape.
  • Splitz, an app that easily divides expenses for group online orders. 
  • VapeEscape, nicotine patch therapies in fun shapes and colors to encourage young adults to quit vaping without the stigma. 
  • UniBite, an app to aid college students in maintaining healthy and nutritious diets.

After deliberating, the panel announced the winning teams.  Second Place went to Team UniBite comprised of Devyn Gianino ‘25, JP McCarthy ‘24, Ashley Bunici ‘26, and Nico Corporan ‘26.  First Place went to team VapeEscape comprised of Eileen Evans ‘25, Mikey Rufino ‘24, and Mary Pat Sayre ‘24.  

First Place Team

To close the event, Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Business Certificate Programs for the Ciocca Center at Holy Cross, shared the dates for upcoming spring events such as CrossTank, the annual Holy Cross spring pitch competition, to be held on March 25, 2024. She also announced that the city of Worcester will hold the inaugural WooTank Intercollegiate Showdown on April 2, 2024 where winning teams from their respective college competitions will compete for capital from real sharks. This year, competing colleges include Holy Cross, WPI, Clark University and Nichols College. Students from the Entrepreneurship course were encouraged to compete. 

2023 Innovation Challenge – Recap

Brendan Candon '10 speaking

The Ciocca Center, in partnership with HC Launch, hosted the annual Innovation Challenge yesterday afternoon. Yesterday’s competition revolved around business solutions for SidelineSwap, the premier marketplace dedicated to connecting athletes and sports enthusiasts in the dynamic world of sports gear selling. Founded by Brendan Candon ’10 in 2015, SidelineSwap has a remarkable track record of facilitating transactions exceeding $250 million and has earned its place among the fastest-growing global marketplaces, as recognized by the esteemed Andreessen Horowitz A16z Top 100 list. Backed by influential investors, including strategic partners such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and eBay, SidelineSwap is not only a platform for buying and selling sports equipment but a community-driven hub that empowers athletes to access quality gear affordably. The recent addition of the Trade-in Platform further exemplifies SidelineSwap’s commitment to innovation, enabling retail partners to create circular shopping experiences and fostering a sustainable and accessible marketplace for sports enthusiasts worldwide.

Students were tasked with pitching one of three solutions proposed by the CEO himself: 

Identifying Potential Sales Opportunity:

Identify a sport with over $10 million annual secondhand gear sales potential, requiring research on market size and characteristics for a successful second-hand marketplace.

Creating a User Experience Using AI:

Design an AI-driven user experience to address user problems and drive positive outcomes for SidelineSwap.

Designing a Solution For Cleaning Bats and Clubs in Bulk:

Propose solutions for efficiently cleaning baseball bats, softball bats, and golf clubs in bulk before listing on SidelineSwap.

Integrating AI into the UI: Securing 1st place, API-tizer tackled the challenge by suggesting an innovative incorporation of AI into SidelineSwap’s user interface. Rather than taking the conventional route of directly enhancing the user experience, API-tizer put forth a groundbreaking proposal to integrate AI seamlessly into SidelineSwap’s UI. This integration, facilitated through an API, was specifically aimed at photo verification and data-related processes for enhanced verification. The team not only addressed the prompt but also demonstrated forward-thinking by devising cost-effective strategies for the smooth integration of this advanced tool. Their pitch underscored a profound understanding of how strategically deploying AI could fortify user trust and elevate the overall credibility of the platform.

Savvy Sam: Claiming the 2nd place position, Team Sam directed their focus toward creating a more personalized and efficient user experience. Their innovative solution involved introducing a virtual chat assistant, named Sam, to SidelineSwap’s website. This AI-powered assistant was conceptualized to facilitate personalized user interactions, streamlining the process for users to find customized sports gear more efficiently. Team Sam’s approach emphasized the importance of user-centric design and showcased a commitment to enhancing the overall journey for SidelineSwap users, aligning with the prompt’s objective of using AI to drive positive outcomes for the business.

Squeaky Clean Solutions: The Clean Team, securing 3rd place, devised a meticulous solution aimed at optimizing the cleaning process for SidelineSwap. Acknowledging the operational challenge of managing thousands of sports products, especially baseball bats, softball bats, and golf clubs, the team presented an innovative proposal. Their approach involved implementing ultrasonic cleaners for golf clubs, demonstrating a practical and cost-effective strategy to enhance efficiency and reduce costs in the cleaning process. The Clean Team’s pitch showcased a thorough understanding of the operational intricacies within SidelineSwap’s warehouses, highlighting the significance of maintaining product quality through streamlined cleaning procedures.

Thank you to our judges, Tom Brennan ’86, Terry Waters ’81, and Brendan Candon ’10 for their invaluable time, expertise, and thoughtful evaluation during the SidelineSwap Innovation Challenge.

Winners:

First Place team

API-tizers (Meggan Fourie ’25, Maura Switzer ’25, Ivor Teagle ’25)

1st Place – $1,000:  API-tizers (Meggan Fourie ’25, Ivor Teagle ’25, Maura Switzer ’25)

2nd Place – $500: Team Sam (Nico Corporon ’26, Sean Doyle ’26)

3rd Place – $250: Clean Team (Briana Sullivan ’24, Nico Popeleski ’26, Maya Kryzwda ’24)

Written by Liz Garfield ‘24 

Business Certificate Presentation Tips and Tricks

 

Mackenzie Madden ’22 pursuing the Business Fundamentals Certificate through the Ciocca Center for Business, ethics, and Society at the College, shares how her workshop experience has provided her with countless opportunities to practice presenting in front of an audience. Read on to learn her tricks to a successful presentation! 

From the Fullbridge Program to Marketing Communications & Sales to the Global Supply Chain workshop, I’ve had different audiences and presentation goals, worked with different teams, and created a variety of different presentations, all while keeping the same tips in mind.  Continue reading “Business Certificate Presentation Tips and Tricks”

The Holy Cross Student Investment Fund Wins First Prize

On March 28, 2019 the Holy Cross Student Investment Fund competed in the  UMASS Minuteman Equity Fund.  With twelve teams competing, including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Penn State, UConn, Northeastern and Babson, Holy Cross won $3,000 for first prize!  The four students, (pictured below, pitched CVS. Congratulations!

HC Student Investment Fund Left to right: Hayden Ivatts ‘21, Jack Boyd ‘21, Jack McConville ‘20, Hannah Callaghan ‘20

The HC Student Investment Club, now in its second year through the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society, is a group of 37 students from all class years and majors.  After a competitive application process, students work in teams to gain experience in the fields of asset valuation, equity research and portfolio management with the Bloomberg Terminal on campus.  The students work closely with alumni and have scheduled site visits in NYC and Boston, MA.

“On our recent trip to New York, we showcased this feat and the work of our club to key alumni in the financial services industry.” comments Jack Boyd ’21. “There, the Industrials and Technology Group showcased their pitch-decks on United Rentals (URI) and Square, (SQ) respectively. The rigor and quality of these presentations were amplified with the use of our Bloomberg Terminal and strengthened after weeks of hard work within their coverage groups.”

Thanks for reading! Cassie

Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society

HCEG: Leveraging One’s Network Effectively in the Technology Sector

HCEG_Alum

The Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group of New York City held its second networking event of the year at Bryan Cave on Wednesday evening, July 23.  The evening was a great success, as many alumni and students attended. Professor David Chu, Director of the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies & Pre-Business Adviser, also attended the event.

Many thanks to those who participated on the panel, including Michael Barrett ’84, CEO of Millenial Media, Chris Nace, ’06 VP Executive Search at Connections NY, Colin Cunningham ’09, Manager at Axial, and moderator Andrew Cialino ’10, Senior Account Executive at Axial.  A hearty thanks goes to Patricia Werner ’97, Counsel at Bryan Cave LLP, who hosted the event at the law firm. Patricia is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Holy Cross Entrepreneurs Group of New York City, along with Daniel Barrett ’93, Andrew Cialino ’10, Colin Cunningham ’09, and Chris Nace ’06.

The alumni panelists focused their insights on leveraging one’s network effectively in the technology sector. With today’s growing tech space, whether pertaining to startups or to the field in general, it is important to understand industry basics. More importantly, both students and alumni should know how to recognize and utilize technology’s benefits in an entrepreneurial way.

The panelists addressed various issues under this umbrella topic, such as how to secure a job in the tech industry, how to reach out and successfully network within the field, and what kinds of tactics both students and alumni may leverage when acclimating themselves to the tech sector.

As always, this networking event successfully fostered that famous Crusader spirit and alliance, as alumni and students were brought together under the same passion for entrepreneurship. The goal of these events is to further the mission of HCEG of creating more entrepreneurial relationships, so that the Holy Cross community is not only a group of “men and women for others,” but also a community of men and women for each other.

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Thanks to Sydney Pugliares ’16 for covering this event and to all the alum sharing insights to the tech industry! As always, don’t forget to “like” us on FACEBOOK and follow us @HCPrebusiness

Cassie Gevry
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

 

Pitch It!

Inspired by alum who wish they had more experience in public speaking while on the hill, Pre-Business decided to host a workshop.  Professor Pat Bizzell of the English Department, who specializes in rhetoric, was happy to work with the Pre-Business students.   In the interest of time, we asked students to rsvp with either a product or personal pitch already prepared.  After a short intro regarding style, arrangement and delivery, Prof. Bizzell gave the students time to apply these techniques to the pitches they brought to the workshop.

We set up the video camera and one by one the students stood in front of the room to deliver their pitch.  Rather than show the footage in front of the group, it was emailed to each student to watch themselves on their own time.  This would bring Prof. Bizzell’s constructive criticism to the next level!

Do you have a personal or product pitch?  Keep an eye out for our next public speaking workshop!

Public Speaking 111213

Cassie
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies