By Maria Pacheco and Lesley Crews

The champions of the summer semester’s Great Capstone Case Competition won over the judges with their proposal for sponsor FAIRWINDS Credit Union to implement a new communications strategy and add branches in growing areas of Central Florida. The Financial Independent Partners Team of Julio Allen, Spencer Dubay, Matthew Lawson, Tyler Gill, and Stacy Helman earned $700 each for their winning business plan.

The Great Capstone Case Competition requires business students to work as a team to develop strategic recommendations for real-world business issues and then pitch their ideas to judges, including competition sponsor FAIRWINDS Credit Union, as part of their final coursework for Strategic Management class.

“Creating our plan required us to think about the competitiveness of the financial industry, and ensure our foundation was on par,” team spokesperson Allen said. “Most companies grow in today’s environment through brand recognition and improved technologies. Our plan focused on giving Fairwinds the opportunity to grow its brand within its community and reach a new demographic of customers through utilizing a cutting-edge communications strategy and digital campaign.”

The Financial Independent Partners Team proposed a revamped communications strategy for Fairwinds that utilized click rates through online ads, TV ads via Hulu, and more. They also suggested Fairwinds add new branches in areas of high growth within Central Florida and include online account opening.

“It’s always a privilege for me to lead our Strategic Management course. Our Capstone team this semester consisted of Gary Nichols, Denise Cordova and Reka Lassu. They all did an amazing job coaching and leading some of the strongest student teams I’ve seen,” said Christopher Leo, professor for the Strategic Management course. “FAIRWINDS Credit Union was an amazing corporate partner, and I’m incredibly grateful for their dedicated time, talent and treasure for making this event possible.”

Team Prestige Consulting Group (Paulina Bruno, Theresa Farley, Cory Hughes and Elizabeth Torres Pon) placed second. Team Visionaries (Samantha Cox, Matthew Miller, Irasema Ocampo, Parker Rendell and Laura Wildermuth) placed third.

“FAIRWINDS would like to thank the UCF College of Business for allowing us to educate almost 400 students on the cooperative business model, and to share our unique value proposition of being a full-service financial institution who wants its members to save more, eliminate debt, build wealth and live generously,” said Tom Baldwin, Senior VP,

Retail Banking & Wealth Management at FAIRWINDS. “Your students addressed our challenge of increasing membership growth with enthusiasm and provided unique and useful insights and recommendations on how to achieve our goals.”


About the UCF College of Business

Established in 1968, the UCF College of Business offers degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and executive levels. All programs, as well as the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting are accredited by AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The college provides high-quality academic programs designed to give students a competitive advantage in the world of business now and in the future. Learn more at