A group of St. Bonaventure University student business professionals visited Constellation Brands, Inc. last month to receive career advice and observe real-world business tactics.
The annual trip, taken by about 30 students — both business and non-business majors— began several years ago because a St. Bonaventure student had interned with the company through a family connection.
“That was a very good in,” said Dr. Carol Wittmeyer, associate professor of management and the trip’s adviser. “It turned out we have a number of alums there.”
Constellation Brands, Inc., a global Fortune 500 company specializing in production and marketing of beer, wine and spirits, is a family-controlled public company headquartered in Victor, New York.
On the trip — which was to one of the company’s business locations near Canandaigua — the students had the opportunity to tour a winery before heading to nearby office buildings for alumni presentations. Presenters included alumna Patty Yahn-Urlaub, ’82, the company’s vice president of Investor Relations, who helped organize the event, Wittmeyer said.
“A trip like this helps students see a company from the inside out,” she said. “We work in this business building (the William E. and Anne L. Swan Business Center) and we analyze all these big companies from the outside in. This allows the students to see how products are made. It allows them to talk to people who have jobs they dream of having.”
Students from various class years — freshmen, seniors and MBA students — had the opportunity to hear about many of the company’s marketing strategies. Graduate student Lawrence Hayes said students are never too young to begin to learn global business tactics and practice networking techniques.
“It was really cool to hear from a number of different alumni about how they got started in the industry and how Bonaventure prepared them and allowed them to be so successful in their careers,” said Hayes, who’s been a member of the university’s Family Business Club — which hosts the trip — since his freshman year. “You never know where someone could benefit you down the road and how they can be available for you as a resource…there's always something that can be learned.”
St. Bonaventure’s Students In Money Management (SIMM) invested in Constellation Brands and the company served as the club’s first family business investment pitch. SIMM is an experiential program in which students manage a real investment portfolio.
“The trip to Constellation revealed some great insight into the ongoing operations within the company,” said Connor Govenettio, a senior finance major and SIMM team member. “The visit helped those of us in SIMM to gain a better perspective of the company that has produced an annualized return of over 18 percent and currently holds the only position as a family run business in our portfolio.”
To take part in the trip, which is funded by a grant through donations from Betty Ramming, made in honor of her late husband Allan Ramming, ’63, and Student Government Association-chartered club fund money, students apply and are selected.
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