Top Marketer Competition Changing Lives

PROVO, Utah – Jul 05, 2018 – Fulfilling an autistic boy’s dream to go to Disneyland. Building confidence in a stressed dad and husband. Providing research opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Such are just a small sample of the fruits that have grown out of the Top Marketer Case Competition, an annual event for marketing MBA students at the BYU Marriott School of Business. Started by BYU Marriott friend and alum Dan Kunst, this unique case competition has and is providing an array of personal and professional benefits to MBA candidates coming through the program each year. 

“I am indebted to BYU,” says Kunst, a retired medical device executive. “I wouldn’t have met my wife and become the person I am today if it weren’t for the school and the things I learned. I have a debt I don’t know if I’ll ever repay in my lifetime, but I hope that through this competition we can help these students be successful and bless their families as well.”

After starting with only a few participants in 2009, the Top Marketer Case Competition has become one of the most popular events in the BYU Marriott MBA. This past year, every single marketing emphasis student in the program participated with some of the strongest entries seen in the competition’s ten-year history. 

Unlike most case competitions, participants compete individually by submitting ideas on the case before three finalists are chosen. The three students chosen each develop a presentation to give to Kunst and fellow BYU Marriott alumni who fly into Provo. The judges provide invaluable feedback and ultimately pick a winner.

“There’s a lot of teamwork in marketing, but there’s also always a leader and a person with an idea,” Kunst explains. “Teams form around that. Students going out into the workplace have to be ready for the many times you’re by yourself in front of management pitching the big idea. At the end of the day, if you’re a brand manager and you never get any of your ideas funded, you won’t be management.”

This year’s winner, William Farnbach, is a first-year MBA who used his experiences in Top Marketer to build confidence and land an internship. 

“As an MBA student, a lot of your successes are based on group work, but your individual success and failure revolves around your job search, so it is incredibly easy to get discouraged,” Farnbach says. “I had had the wind knocked out of me with a few rejections from companies. I was worried I had given up a good job and put my wife and infant son in a hard spot. But the competition was an opportunity to prove myself, and I landed my internship around the same time I won the competition.”

Austin Johansen, a 2015 alum and the competition’s winner in 2014, testifies to the impact the competition has had on him. Not only did it help Johansen secure a full-time position with ExxonMobil, but the prize money also enabled him to take his family, including a son with autism, to enjoy well-needed time off at Disneyland.

“Winning the Top Marketer Case Competition gave me confidence that I could compete for any marketing position,” Johansen says. “This competition and the feedback from Dan and his team assured me that my background gave me a great foundation to launch a career in marketing.”

Kyle Ahrendsen, the 2016 winner and a 2017 alum, gives additional praise: “We often forget that research and executive decisions post-MBA can sometimes be one-person shows. This competition allowed me to showcase my writing and executive presence in a forum that was constructive and confidence building. Additionally, the winnings I earned allowed me to go on a study abroad to research flourishing businesses in Southeast Asia and learn from top executives. I am so grateful for this competition and hope to see it continue to grow and allow other students like me to build confidence and take advantage of more opportunities.”

All these valuable blessings and many more have stemmed from BYU Marriott and Kunst’s vision of lifting future generations.

“We’re not just trying to develop killer marketers,” Kunst says. “We want to develop the whole person. You and what kind of standard you bring can raise the expectation for what a degree from BYU means. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and BYU Marriott alumni need to go out and be successful so they can lift future students. I hope this competition helps those who participate in it to do so.”

Top Marketer Winners
Vickie (far left) and her husband, Dan Kunst (far right) celebrate the Top Marketer co-winners from 2017, Alexandra Ahrendsen (middle left) and Aaron Robinson (middle right).

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Jordan Christiansen