Chatham Views

Campus Community Profile: Deborah DeLong, PhD

Dr. DeLong, front-right, with members of the CMA at the AMA Collegiate Case Competition.
Dr. DeLong, front-right, with members of the CMA at the AMA Collegiate Case Competition.

Professor DeLong is advisor to the Chatham Marketing Association. This year, CMA placed third in the prestigious national American Marketing Association (AMA)’s Collegiate Case Competition, out of 91 total submissions.  

This is the most prestigious and challenging event that the AMA offers to students; CMA once again put Chatham on the map as a significant source of marketing talent. ” – Deborah DeLong

Hometown: Annandale, VA
Position at Chatham: Associate Professor of Marketing and faculty advisor to the Chatham Marketing Association
Came to Chatham: 2006
Interests: Running, book club, travel

What got you interested in marketing?
In graduate school, I intended to pursue a career in industrial psychology since that’s where I had my training. Next thing I know, I’m working at an advertising agency. This position allowed me to turn those skills around to focus on customers instead of on employees.

What are your main areas of research interest?
Mostly branding and marketing strategy, but since coming to Chatham my research has focused on sustainability. Sustainability ties in with one of my interests, consumer behavior. I research how and why a consumer or an employee might be motivated to buy green products, engage in environmentally responsible behaviors, and in general adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Both industrial psychology and marketing come into play when explaining the motivations and conditions that foster sustainable behavior inside and outside of a company setting.

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Short course write-up from “The Recorder”, Chatham’s alumni magazine, Fall 2014.

What is your role in the American Marketing Association?
I first joined AMA when I was working as a business analytics manager at Entergy Corporation in 1998. I continued as an AMA member as a Clinical Marketing Professor at Tulane University in 2002. When I came to Chatham in 2006, I realized that the collegiate division of the AMA offers a world of opportunities for students, so we began the Chatham Marketing Association chapter. About four or five years ago, I was elected to the AMA Collegiate Chapters Council (CCC), which is the planning group of 10 faculty advisors from the 350 collegiate chapters in the organization. It’s a pretty big honor and a lot of responsibility. Within the Council, I am in charge of the annual Collegiate Case Competition and a few other smaller competitions. I also help with all aspects of year-round collegiate programming and help coordinate the annual conference that is attended by 1500+ marketing undergraduates each spring. I’m currently the president-elect of the Council and also serve as Collegiate Relations Committee co-chair for the Pittsburgh AMA, our local professional AMA chapter. 

What is the Collegiate Case Competition?
It’s a rigorous, nationally-recognized competition with two goals—to allow students to work together on a real-world business challenge, and to allow the client to benefit from input by the country’s top marketing students. I help the sponsoring company define their key business challenges and constraints; write the case; coordinate all of the details related to recruiting the judges, managing multiple rounds of submissions and scoring, and overseeing the final presentations by finalist teams. The case sponsor is usually a big name brand company. Last year it was The Hershey Company, and this coming year it is eBay.  Students use the written case to develop the marketing strategy that they present to the client if they become finalists. This year, we were one of only 10 finalist teams (out of 350 collegiate chapters) invited to present our case solution to The Hershey Company’s brand management team. Our students delivered a fantastic case solution followed by Q&A with Hershey’s team.

What’s in a case?
The case is very clear about the business challenge and what student teams should focus on. It will say something like “the analysis and your solution and submission needs to address this, this, this and this.” So for Cool Blasts (the Hershey Company’s Icebreakers’ product) last year, it was value proposition and target market. In general it’s also the marketing mix, but the client might say “don’t change the price or packaging.”

For a school of our size, competing against “Ivies”, the best business schools in the country, and massive state universities with tons of resources and support, coming in third in the Collegiate Case Competition is an unbelievably significant accomplishment.”

What makes participating in AMA enjoyable for you?
I realized very quickly that if I didn’t get involved with outside organizations in my field, I was going to be alone in my work. I needed to submit my research to conferences and meet colleagues, but also get involved with the operational side of organizations and be able to partner with colleagues that have similar interests and a similar commitment to student education. It’s enjoyable because it helps me to get outside of the perimeter of Chatham, which makes me a better teacher, a better practitioner, a better scientist, and a better member of the academy.

How does AMA help students learn about marketing and/or business?
There is a lot to be said for projects and assignments in a class. However, I think that there is a certain comfort level in only ever being exposed to other students in your own institution. The value of the AMA is that it really is an infusion of what it’s like down the road after you’re done with your degree. You get exposure to other students and other schools. While the collegiate AMA is competitive in that students compete for awards and recognition, I see it as cooperative too, because in marketing one of the biggest success factors is learning how to work and play nicely with others.

Any CMA accomplishments that you’re especially proud of?
Definitely our performance in the Collegiate Case Competition, where we’ve placed in the finals twice since I have been at Chatham. This is an incredible repeat accomplishment —the other schools that make it to the finals are usually large state schools and the Ivy League Whartons of the world. Each time I helped the team along, but more importantly it’s about my students taking it upon themselves to be committed and follow through on a challenge that is really almost insurmountable. I also think we do an amazing job with social impact. The Young Art Fair is our signature accomplishment; we’re becoming known for it in the Pittsburgh area. I’m also really proud of the fact that a lot of the officers in CMA have gone on to have decent careers in marketing, and from what I hear it was their experiences as CMA officers that helped make this happen for them, and some of the main things they talked about in their interviews.