For members of Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) at Missouri State University, 2020 has been a year full of challenges and opportunities. With the rise of COVID-19, all events and competitions were moved to an to an online format. They adapted and ultimately succeeded in an everchanging environment under the leadership of marketing department professor Courtney Pham.
Pham is the adviser for MSU’s FBLA-PBL chapter. This is not her first experience with the organization, though. While in high school, Pham was a member of her local FBLA chapter and developed a firsthand understanding of the organization and what it offers to students. These experiences helped her when she became a co-adviser for FBLA-PBL at Missouri State in 2017. Pham soon transitioned to an adviser role in early 2018, guiding the organization and registering it as an official student organization within the College of Business.
There are three primary competitive conferences for FBLA-PBL each year: the Regional, the State, and the National Leadership Conferences. Members who attend these events participate in various competitions to assess their business skills and knowledge against other chapters from across the nation. There are many different categories and events students can compete in, including role plays, interviews, presentations and tests. Students compete at each level and qualify for higher levels, ending with the National Leadership Conference. The conferences are normally held in locations across the country, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted those plans. Both the SLC and NLC were transitioned to an online format, posing a challenge for advisers and members. However, Pham and the members of MSU’s FBLA-PBL were ready to tackle this obstacle head-on.
The first hurdle for the organization was the inability to meet in person. It was extremely important for the group to collaborate and work with one another in order to boost mental camaraderie. Through the use of apps like GroupMe, members were able to organize meetings and support one another while preparing for competition. Chapter President Treaver Woehr was key in communicating with the group, making sure that members were up to date on the current situation as it developed. Pham commends Woehr for keeping the group aware of what was going on, which became especially important as the competition date neared.
Another challenge came in the form of new rules for participating in national competition, now called the National Leadership Experience. Pham says many of these rules were unexpected, including a rule that prevented members from competing in events in which they had previously competed. As a result, several students were not eligible to compete in their usual events. However, the qualifying members adapted to the situation and pressed on.
Even in the face of new challenges and rules, several competitors thrived and achieved Top 5 and Top 10 finishes in their competitions. When asked what helped these members succeed, Pham credits experience. “You know what to expect regarding timing and how you present yourself,” Pham says. “You have to have the skills to begin with and hone in those skills to become a better competitor.”
Missouri State FBLA-PBL members who received top placements in their competitions are listed below.
- Accounting Analysis & Decision Making – Mohson Choudry and Kamran Choudry – 5th Place
- Marketing Concepts – Treaver Woehr – 7th Place
- Personal Finance – Tanner Abbott – 7th Place
- Sports Management & Marketing – Treaver Woehr – 5th Place
Students were not the only individuals to be recognized, though. Pham was also awarded the title of Outstanding Local Chapter Adviser among 14 others from across the nation. “I feel very honored to be nominated and receive the award for the state of Missouri,” Pham says. “I am glad I was recognized and chosen among the many awesome Missouri local chapter advisers for my work this year.” Read about Pham’s award in Tomorrow’s Business Leader, the annual FBLA magazine.
For students who are interested in FBLA-PBL at Missouri State, Pham says, “do join!” Membership gives students the opportunity to meet with peers in business studies and helps develop critical skills through experiential learning opportunities and competitions. Visit FBLA-PBL’s CampusLink page to download an application, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.