Wednesday, July 18, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 154


UH student places third in national sales contest

By Crys Lewis
Daily Cougar Staff

"A lot of people come to the University not wanting to be salespeople," said Kristi Von Woglom-Parodi, director of UH's Program for Excellence in Selling. But sales
can be applied to almost any profession, whether it is selling a product or a concept, she adds.


Located within the C. T. Bauer College of Business, the program is the largest undergraduate sales program in the United States, Von Woglom-Parodi said. It
accepts students of all majors.

"Sales is a professional profession," Woglom-Parodi said. "Alumni say they learn to sell themselves above and beyond a product." 

One student who did just that is Tatiana Chavanelle, a senior accounting student minoring in Russian studies. During the spring semester, Chavanelle won third
place in a national sales competition sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. She previously won first place in the regional competition, sponsored by
the Paul Nick Agency of Northwestern Mutual Life. Susana Howard, a senior PES-marketing student took second place. 

"Dr. Eli Jones is awesome," Chavanelle said of her professor in the "Professional Selling" class, one of the program's five required courses. "If I hadn't taken the class
with him, I probably wouldn't have done any selling," she said. 

"For me, it was an opportunity to improve my communication skills," she added. Chavanelle is from the Ukraine, and moved to the United States seven years ago.
Since English is her second language, she took the course business majors can take in place of a public speaking class to help her with language skills.

For the sales competition, she sold services. "It was actually a requirement," she said, since the sponsor, Northwestern Mutual, sells financial services. Her project
was on the FedEx Home Delivery Service. 

"I actually spoke to a FedEx representative (and) used (his) helpful suggestions and pointers he gave (me) about competition," she said.

Chavanelle, who graduates in December, has already been hired by Mann, Frankfort, Stein & Lipp, the largest regional CPA firm in Houston. After graduation, she
plans to start work in the firm's taxation department in January.

"In the past, people from our program have won awards in this competition. It was a great thing to do (to) see where our skills are at that point. The program is really
young, but for what it's accomplished in its three years is really incredible," Chavanelle said.

PES is a certificate program with five required classes. The classes have been structured to "give students some real-world application, " Woglom-Parodi said. As
one of their first assignments, students are given a jacket, custom-made for the sales program.

"Students go out and find a sponsor for their jacket, someone to make an investment in that student's future," she said. "It's usually their first cold call. It's a good task
for a student to do a cold call to close a deal."

To earn advanced certification, students must take the course "Key Account Selling," which gives them experience in real-world applications. Students are required
to call on a top CEO of a company in Houston.

"It's scary. You think, 'Oh my God! I have to call on a CEO,'" Woglom-Parodi said, adding that afterward students often find their self-confidence is higher, and they
have a better understanding of the sales and buying process.

"Twenty-four (major) companies in Houston were active sponsors of the graduation and induction ceremony," she said.

For more information, visit the Web site at, or call (713) 743-4746. Applications are being accepted for the fall semester until July 25.

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