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Contact: Christine Payton Nov. 9, 2011
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
A team of 11 financial representatives from the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, along with the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, recently committed $250,000 to sponsor a sales and research training laboratory for the Department of Marketing and Hospitality at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The lab is one component of the comprehensive Professional Sales and Research Program the department plans to launch in the 2012-2013 academic year. The lab facility will be located on the main floor in Moody Hall.

The Professional Sales and Research Program will include the improvement of physical and technological instructional and research resources.

“ The main goal of the program is to better prepare our students for successful careers. We believe we can accomplish this by providing technology-enhanced, flexible learning environments that facilitate continuous improvement and innovative teaching,” said Dr. Gwen Fontenot, department head.

UL Lafayette alum and Northwestern Mutual’s Managing Partner Steven Dugal formed the team of donors, most of whom are UL Lafayette alumni.

“ UL Lafayette has meant so much to Northwestern Mutual as six managing partners are alumni as well as several of our financial representatives. Personally, UL Lafayette provided my mom a beloved 35-year career starting with no work experience. This allowed her to raise and support six children as a single mom,” said Dugal.

The team of donors includes Dugal; Bill Hornsby, former managing partner; Stuart Cestia, managing director of the Lafayette office; and Paul Nick, Taylor Davis, Stacy Russo Nichols, Bill Cunningham, Kenny Begneaud, Cindy Gunawan, Bill Bowers, and Elizabeth Gessner, all financial representatives.

In addition to a five-year sponsorship of the sales and research lab, the Northwestern Mutual donation will also endow two scholarships for students in the Professional Sales and Research Program.

“ We all know selling traits are used in most professions and not just in the profession of selling. Having the students learn these traits while in school versus after college will benefit the students, university and local employers. As an organization known for its top sales force, Northwestern Mutual of Louisiana is proud to align with UL Lafayette in building and developing the sales lab. This will be a working partnership we are excited to watch flourish,” said Dugal.

The renovation of a former computer lab and existing storage areas will result in the creation of a main classroom, a conference room/focus group facility, three role play rooms and a control room.

The lab plans are expected to be unveiled in early 2012. Each of the rooms in the facility will be equipped with state-of-the art video and audio recording equipment that will allow students to record sales role plays, mock interviews, and group presentations for training purposes.

These sessions will be viewable not only in the main classroom but in all classrooms and conference rooms in Moody Hall as well as anywhere in the world via the Internet.

Software developed specifically for sales role play courses and competitions will allow instructors to provide feedback to students by inserting typewritten comments that are marked on their video recordings and inserted at the exact points on their role plays. Students will be able to download their recordings for use in improving their techniques and also to use when interviewing for jobs.

“ This lab and the entire program will help us take our students to a new level. It will also give UL Lafayette an opportunity to be recognized on a national level, making it possible for us to host a regional or national sales competition,” said Dr. Duleep Delpechitre, assistant professor of marketing and the lead instructor of the sales training classes at UL Lafayette.

The university’s professional sales team, coached by Dr. Delpechitre, recently competed in and took top honors at a regional sales competition at Nicholls State University. Two of the team members will compete next week in a national competition in New Jersey and two more will compete in another national competition in Georgia in the spring 2012.

Document last revised Wednesday, November 9, 2011 2:27 PM

Copyright 2003 by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
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