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PepsiCo/Frito-Lay Makes Impact in USM’s College of Business and Economic Development

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 10:57am | By: Van Arnold

Chris Balaski's classUniversity of Southern Mississippi Professor Chris Balaski challenges his marketing students by giving them the opportunity to test the skills they are learning on real professionals.

PepsiCo/Frito-Lay representatives were invited to Balaski's professional selling class recently to act as the customer while students tried to selling them Frito-Lay displays and products. One representative would act as the store owner who was meeting with the student, while the other three would observe and take notes during the interaction.

“The students and the professionals look forward to this each semester. Although the students are intimidated at first at the idea of pitching PepsiCo/Frito-Lay representatives their own product, it is very beneficial exercise. If they can master this, they will be comfortable with anything they end up selling," said Balaski.

Following each pitch, the professionals gave detailed feedback on what the student did well and where they could improve. This allowed for the students to not only acquire critical tips on how to give a better sales pitch, but also built connections between the students and the company.

"This experience was special because we are interacting with people from a real, large company that comes specifically to Southern Miss to meet us. This is a great way to practice for how an interaction like this will actually be,” said senior marketing student Chloe Faul.

Jordan Riekhof, senior Healthcare Marketing major, was selected as the winner of the competition. She received Frito-Lay swag and will receive a bag of chips with her smile on it.

"Southern Miss is a school that we have had a lot of success recruiting quality candidates from in the past,” said Tyler Peterson, Senior Sales Zone Supervisor. 

“Exercises just like this set students up for success within our company. Class interactions allow for us to bridge the gap between PepsiCo and Frito-Lay and the college.”

Peterson brought with him three Sales District Leaders: Arnel Dujkovic, Lance Knowles, and Zenell Gwin.

PepsiCo/Frito-Lay is a generous supporter of the College of Business and Economic Development, frequently sponsoring and attending events to better connect with the business student body.