A first-of-its-kind training project between the Department of Business Management and Italtile culminated in seven students being offered internships with the company and one of the seven, Dannika Essl, being named as the overall winner of the initiative.
The project, which started in February and concluded with a prize-giving ceremony last week, required participating students to job shadow sales staff at various Italtile stores, role play a sales process and hand in written assignments and a reflective essay about their experiences.
Students were judged on how well they analysed Italtile's marketing mix, including price, promotion and distribution.
Those who applied for the internship had to do a presentation of their findings.
Project manager Dr Debbie Human-Van Eck and Dr Lené Ehlers, both lecturers of the Department of Business Management, as well as Ms Susan Eckley, regional manager of Italtile's Commercial Division in the Western Cape, contributed to the success of the project.
Prof Christo Boshoff, chairman of the Department of Business Management and vice-dean: Research, thanked Italtile for their investment in the students.
“One of Stellenbosch University's key goals is to harness a collaborative nature and approach to teaching and learning. Projects such as this enable us to remain true to these obligations. Although a strong theoretical underpinning remains a key requirement in university studies, a transformative student experience becomes a much greater reality when there is an opportunity to interact with industry. We are grateful that a company as reputable and successful as Italtile was willing to share their experience and expertise with us," he said.
Boshoff expressed the hope that Italtile would continue the collaboration with the department in the future.
Paul Couzis, director of Italtile, said their engagement with the department has been outstanding and that it was a privilege to be part of the programme.
He said the students did a great job in analysing Italtile and understanding what the company is about.
“The fact is that young people can change the world if you only allow them to, and we want to create an enabling environment where they can make a contribution. I think that is so important, and what I saw from these students is that they are prepared, willing and able to invest and to make that contribution."
Said Essl, “Receiving this prize and internship puts me in a position where I can enter the retail market. I have a great passion for sales and marketing so this job fits my interests. The internship is not only something that will look great on my CV but it also gives me something I can grow in because it's a field that really interests me and something I can see myself doing one day."
As the overall winner she received R10 000 in prize money, as well as a floating trophy.
The runners-up Janco Marais (2nd) and Laura Shamley (3rd) received R3 000 and R1 000 respectively.
The seven students who were offered intern contracts are: Essl, Marais, Shamley, Kayla van Zyl, Dylan Oosthuyse, Alexander Searle and Sinethemba Mathunjwa.
Spot prizes were also awarded to Marais for the best Italtile job shadow and Oosthuyse for the best Italtile role play.
- Photos by Anton Jordaan:
Carousel photo: In the back row f.l.t.r. are Ms Susan Eckley (Italtile), overall winner Dannika Essl, and Mr Paul Couzis (Italtile). In the front f.l.t.r. are Laura Shamley (3rd), Janco Marais (2nd) and Ms Tuscany Kitch, 2018 Italtile intern and now Italtile intern custodian.
Photo on the right: With Mr Paul Couzis, Ms Susan Eckley and Ms Tuscany Kitch, all from Italtile,
and Dannika Essl, overall winner, are Dr Debbie Human-Van Eck (far right in the back row) and
Dr Lené Ehlers (far right in the front row), both lecturers of the Department of Business