Towson University senior parlays case competition into a position at Pandora
Senior Dominique Hawkins readily admits she “always had a drive for business.” But she wasn’t sure in which direction to proceed.
A part-time job at Nordstrom Rack fed her passion for fashion and introduced her to a love of retail management.
She chose Towson University’s project management and business analysis program—part of the business administration major in the College of Business & Economics—because she thought it was perfect preparation for her future career.
Hawkins also valued the worldwide AACSB accreditation CBE’s business administration and accounting programs have earned.
Living in West Village for three years gave the Prince George’s County, Maryland, native opportunities to get involved on campus. She participated in the MentHER program and has been a member of the project management and e-business association since she was a sophomore. This year, she served as the club’s vice president.
Hawkins also took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Fall Case Competition. Teams have five weeks to compile solutions to real-world business cases provided by a professional organization and then present their solutions to a panel of regional business leaders.
This year, the participating business was multinational jewelry company Pandora, which has a regional headquarters in downtown Baltimore.
The organization needed a solution for inventory distribution issues it experienced during the holiday season.
“It was really interesting to apply class knowledge to a real-world issue,” Hawkins says. “My friend in my group worked at Nordstrom Rack with me, so we were able to use our business knowledge and retail experience to inform our decision making.”
Although her team finished third, the opportunity to network was just as valuable to Hawkins as a win.
“I had done my research on Pandora, and I knew it was an organization I really wanted to impress,” Hawkins continues.
She connected with Pandora’s demand planning manager Coushatta Cunningham in the meet-and-greet after the presentation and exchanged information. Hawkins applied for several jobs at Pandora before an assistant demand planning position opened in March.
“I sent in my resume and copied Coushatta,” says Hawkins. “I heard back right away. The application and interview process went quickly, and the next week I had a full-time job.”
“I had no demand planning experience,” Hawkins laughs. “But I did know Excel. I’m so happy Towson stresses learning it in the business analysis program and makes you get the Microsoft Office Specialist certification. That has helped me so, so much.”
She is part of a team of four that Hawkins describes as “super friendly” and as “helping me every step of the way.” After several months of learning, she is now starting to expand into point-of-sale merchandise (POSM) demand planning for items like store signage and ring cases.
“I just love that I can apply what I’ve learned in class to my career,” she says.
As if a full-time job and night classes weren’t enough, this semester Hawkins is interning with Natalie M. Scala, associate professor and director of TU graduate programs in supply chain management.
The pair, along with a graduate student, is creating a maturity model for large construction organizations to evaluate their level of collaborative scheduling within their projects. The research is funded by an external grant from the Construction Industry Institute (CII).
Hawkins’ internship meshes well with her tasks at Pandora.
“We are extending previous research done by CII and completing statistical testing on it, which aligns very well with the statistical testing I’m doing at Pandora,” she notes.
Hawkins’ work with Scala convinced her to enroll in TU’s accelerated dual degree in supply chain management.
She appreciates the potential it opens to her professionally in the event she decides to move out of demand planning.
“It will be really good to understand how the supply chain works and have that background knowledge to apply at any job in my field,” she says.
But Hawkins doesn’t have any plans to move on. When asked where she’ll be in five years, she immediately answers that she wants to grow with Pandora. Even if she decided to move out of demand planning—a situation she calls “unlikely”—she says she’d take advantage of the freedom Pandora provides to move laterally around the company.
For now, Hawkins is excited for Commencement and pleased to have started her career.
“It’s amazing,” she says. “I’ve seen plenty of other people who are not able to find a job right out of college. It pushed me to take as many opportunities as I could to get experience before I graduated. I’m so excited to be at Pandora.”
Business administration is the ideal program for those interested in a career in any facet of business: entrepreneurship, marketing, management, analysis, economics, finance or business law.