Erin Koch, Ella Williams, Senior Hannah Kwapisz„ junior Josh Bailey, and Audrey Cooley at the Col­le­giate Project Man­agement Com­pe­tition held by the West Michigan Project Man­agement Institute. Andrea Wallace | Courtesy.

Although none of Hillsdale’s three teams was a finalist in the Col­le­giate Project Man­agement Com­pe­tition held by the West Michigan Project Man­agement Institute on April 9, one of the teams was awarded “best improved” and the other was rec­og­nized for its strong inter­per­sonal pre­sen­tation.

The teams each developed a project-man­agement style response to the prompt for this year’s com­pe­tition, which involved finding ways to reduce food waste in Michigan. Over the course of the semester, each team developed an edu­ca­tional approach to reducing food waste, then planned out an intricate strategy for imple­menting their project.

Hillsdale’s three teams com­peted against five other teams from other Michigan col­leges. In the devel­opment of their projects, each team had help from an outside mentor and Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Man­agement Douglas Johnson.

One Hillsdale team developed a hypo­thetical cam­paign with Gerber to work with young fam­ilies in reducing food waste. Another group developed a system for part­nering with retailers to sell fruits and veg­etables with cos­metic imper­fec­tions that might oth­erwise go to waste. The third group developed a system that would allow food that could no longer be sold in stores due to reg­u­la­tions to be brought to food pantries instead of thrown away.

After devel­oping a project to decrease food waste, each team developed a work breakdown structure for their project and out­lined every task that needed to be com­pleted and who was respon­sible for it. They did this as a part of their project man­agement class, which will be offered again next spring, Johnson said. Johnson added that in the past five years that Hillsdale has par­tic­i­pated, this is the first year Hillsdale has not won the com­pe­tition or placed as a finalist.

“People are catching up with us,” Johnson said. “There’s more sim­i­larity between the type of work that other schools are doing rel­ative to us. I hate to pat our­selves on the back, but I think that’s part of what’s hap­pening. There were also two other teams with MBA stu­dents that ended up placing first and second.”

Although none of the Hillsdale teams were finalists, junior Josh Bailey said he enjoyed the process of putting together a solution in coor­di­nation with the other members on his team.

“In regard to our prepa­ration for and per­for­mance at the com­pe­tition, I am proud of my team,” Bailey said in an email. “I think we came together very well and pre­sented a fine project plan. Everyone stepped up and did great work, so I was not dis­ap­pointed with our per­for­mance.”

Senior Andrea Wallace said the expe­rience was helpful for devel­oping project man­agement skills that she could use later on in her career.

“I plan to do some non­profit admin­is­tration in the future, and I think one thing you fre­quently see in non­profits is a weak man­agement, so I was excited to grow that skill,” Wallace said. “Some­thing I’ve learned about project man­agement is that everyone can use it, from doctors to artists, and even con­ser­va­tionists.”