By Gianna Chan, grade 10, director of communications for Harker DECA
In mid-January, more than 110 students from Harker’s DECA chapter attended the 2020 Silicon Valley Career Development Conference (SVCDC) at the Santa Clara Marriott. Harker performed admirably, with 73 overall finalists and 30 top three winners.
“This conference was an amazing experience for all our students!” said Mahi Kolla, grade 12, Harker DECA’s co-chief executive officer. “With record high attendance, more students had an opportunity to present the business plans they had spent months working on and demonstrate their business knowledge in our cluster tests. I think it was especially exciting for our students who staged and got to see their work over the past few months come to fruition.”
Members placing in the top three are as follows:
- Rishi Dange and Evan Cheng, both grade 12, and Aditya Singhvi, grade 11, Integrated Marketing Campaign – Service
- Elaine Zhai, grade 11, Professional Selling
- Andrea Thia, grade 10, Business Growth Plan
- Anvitha Tummala and Fonda Hu, both grade 11, Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research
- Rishi Dange, grad 12, Accounting Applications Series
- Radhika Jain, grade 12, Quick Serve Restaurant Management
- Claire Luo, grade 11, Business Finance Series
- Aditi Bharti and Sarina Sharma, both grade 11, Marketing Team Decision Making Event
- Sidharth Dudyala and Phil Han, both grade 12, Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making Event
- Jason Hoang and Karan Bhasin, both grade 11, Integrated Marketing Campaign – Event
- Phil Han, grade 12, Hospitality and Tourism Professional Selling
- Vishnu Jaisim, grade 12, Financial Consulting
- Aditi Ghalsasi, grade 12, Start-Up Business Plan
- Jacqueline Au and Stephanie Shen, both grade 11, Buying and Merchandising Operations Research
- Bryan Zhang, grade 11, Finance Operations Research
- Rohan Varma, grade 11, Automated Services Marketing
- Rishab Parthasarathy, grade 10, Business Finance Series
- Evan Cheng, grade 12, Business Services Marketing Event
- Mahi Kolla, grade 12, Entrepreneurship Series Event
- Calais Poirson and Arya Tandon, both grade 11, Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
- Arin Jain, Zeke Weng and Armaan Thakker, all grade 9, Independent Business Plan
- Leisha Devisetti, grade 9, Sports and Entertainment Marketing Operations Research
- Rohan Gorti, grade 9, Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
- Ada Praun-Petrovic, grade 9, Principles of Marketing
- Ronit Gagneja, grade 12, Automotive Services Marketing
- Jason Hoang, grade 11, Business Services Marketing Series
- Victoria Han, grade 10, Entrepreneurship Series
- N Wang, grade 11, Hotel and Lodging Management Series
- Allison Jia and Aditi Ghalsasi, both grade 12, Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
- Luisa Pan, grade 11, Personal Financial Literacy
On day one, the California DECA officer team kicked off the opening ceremony by welcoming all of the SVCDC competitors with the SV factor, the annual talent show, and an impromptu speaking exercise involving all chapter presidents. Campaigns for DECA vice president of Silicon Valley also began during the session, and Claire Luo, grade 11, Harker DECA’s VP of operations, gave her election speech and continued her campaign throughout the weekend.
On the second day, attendees competed in their events, utilizing time before and between the events to practice with their teams and mentors. Luo and the rest of the Harker DECA officer team set up a booth for Luo’s election campaign to help spread her vision for Silicon Valley DECA and encourage people to vote.
“It was really cool to meet people from different chapters around Silicon Valley,” said Luo, “and I was given the opportunity to speak to chapter presidents as well as new members who told me what changes they wanted to see from Silicon Valley DECA. I think it was a really valuable experience and I learned a lot about speaking to people, making a speech, and campaigning your ideas. I really appreciated the chapter’s support; all of the members, from the freshmen to the seniors, were extremely supportive when I gave my speech, and cheered me on throughout the weekend.”
“Being able to compete with my friends in my event was really fun, and I learned a lot about presenting professionally in a team,” said Zeke Weng, grade 9. “We had been working on this plan for a long time, and to see our work pay off and stage was an incredible experience.”
After finishing their competitions, members were free to relax for the rest of the day and visit the Game Night that Silicon Valley DECA hosted to meet students from other school’s chapters.
“The conference was a really great opportunity for testing the waters before an even bigger conference like SCDC,” said Leisha Devisetti, grade 9, “and I was able to receive great feedback from judges on everything from my soft skills to the business ideas I presented. I think SVCDC and DECA in general has helped me prepare for my future because the role plays help with thinking on the spot and all of the competitions build my presentation skills.”
Early on day three, Sunday morning, the chapter reconvened in the ballroom to attend the award ceremony, where Harker proudly sent 73 teams to the top 10 during the Mini Awards.
“For me, personally, SVCDC was not so much about the results but rather the experience and skills I learned from being able to present to professionals,” said Robert Zhang, grade 9. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t, but it’s all about what you gained from your experience and using that knowledge to be even better next time.”
After Mini Awards wrapped up, students enjoyed a buffet breakfast before the Grand Awards session, where Harker DECA members continued to receive recognition. In total, Harker DECA saw 30 teams win top three during Grand Awards.
“Although competing was overwhelming at times, knowing the entire Harker DECA chapter was rooting for each other gave me confidence,” said Andrea Thia, grade 10. “The loud cheers from each member every time ‘Harker DECA’ was announced made me laugh and cheer louder.”
Overall, the 2019-20 Silicon Valley Career Development Conference was an extremely successful event for our chapter and an inspiring experience for all Harker DECA competitors. All of the members enjoyed the first competitive conference of the season, gaining useful skills and feedback for the upcoming States competition, and left feeling motivated to continue with their DECA journey.
“This year’s SVCDC was an amazing start to the competitive season, and just a glimpse of what our chapter members can do,” said Juston Glass, Harker DECA’s chapter advisor. “I’m extremely proud of all of the attendees’ dedication in preparing for their events and am looking forward to seeing the students’ progress during states and beyond.”
Every Friday in the weeks leading up to SVCDC, Harker DECA hosted weekly study sessions in the Innovation Center for students to practice their role-plays in front of an officer, receive live feedback for their written events and take mock exams. In preparation for the California State Career Development Conference, DECA suggests that all members attend these weekly study sessions. Go Eagles!
About Harker DECA
Harker DECA is an international competitive business organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in four fields of business: marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Our DECA chapter integrates classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business and promotes competition in order to prepare the next generation to be academically prepared, community oriented, professionally responsible and experienced leaders.
To learn more about this story, please contact:
Gianna Chan, Director of Communications