Student Group Shows Top Hosting, Competing Skills at State Leadership Conference


The UT Dallas chapter of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), the collegiate division of Future Business Leaders of America, took charge of hosting the Texas State Leadership Conference virtually this year. A highlight of the April gathering was the business leader competition with 33 participants from UT Dallas and four other Texas schools competing in 41 events.

UT Dallas contestants did well in the 14 events they entered, with the chapter placing first in 11 events, second in four events and third in one event. All UT Dallas participants qualified to move on to compete at the National Leadership Conference, to be held virtually in June.

Kristen Lawson

The UTD PBL chapter is based in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, and chapter advisor Dr. Kristen Lawson, a Jindal School clinical assistant professor in the Organizations, Strategy and International Management Area, said that “despite the pandemic and our mostly online learning platforms this semester, UTD once again brought the largest number of students to the state leadership conference. To understand how noteworthy this is, several chapters that have been active participants and even recent hosts to the conference had no students in their chapter and therefore could not participate this year.”

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda Inc. (FBLA-PBL) describes itself as the largest student business organization in the world and says that each year, it helps over 230,000 members prepare for careers in business.

Placing First Twice

Three Jindal School students and one Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science student took first place in two categories this year:

• Ashley Garber, senior in accounting, won Business Ethics and Forensic Accounting;

Dinesh Pandian

• Dinesh Pandian, senior in information technology and systems, won Programming Concepts and Project Management;

Vartika Varshney

• John Squire, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science senior in biomedical engineering, won Administrative Support Technology and Cyber Security; and

• Vartika Varshney, graduate student double majoring in international management studies and marketing, won Business Communication and Public Speaking.

More Firsts

Other first-place winners were:

• Ankita Bantey, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science senior in computer science, for Marketing Analysis & Decision Making;

Vidhesha Vaid

• Carollynn Tran, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences sophomore in criminology, for Social Media Challenge; and

• Vidhesha Vaid, senior in information technology and systems, for Information Management.

In addition to competing, Lawson said, PBL students went above and beyond to help host the conference by updating the PBL website to include conference information and then creating virtual workshops for students from other institutions to attend.

“I am so impressed by that Comet spirit and pride,” Lawson said.

Next up for the slate of winners is the National Leadership Conference, which will stream live from the FBLA-PBL National Center in Reston, Virginia, June 24-27.

Holly Rio

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