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Student Experiences

Storytelling for Success

In the Classroom

In a rare chance for corporate employees to pitch new products to the global CEO of Walmart, BYU Marriott finance alum Dallas Teshima had 30 seconds to showcase his team’s guacamole. Dozens of products had already been pitched that hour. Teshima needed to be clear, concise, and compelling. In short, he needed all the skills he had learned in his advanced writing course at BYU Marriott.

Dallas Teshima employed his M COM 320 skills to pitch guacamole.
Finance alum Dallas Teshima, a senior director for Sam’s Club, employed his M COM 320 skills to pitch guacamole.

Using the same skills, accounting major Taylor Gent from Pahrump, Nevada, tackled his first assignment as an intern with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): assessing the liquidity of the bank his team was examining. Gent analyzed financial statements, policies, procedures, and ratios, but all that data was useless unless he could translate it into a written report that explained if this bank could survive a bank run.

Both Teshima and Gent acknowledge that BYU Marriott’s Management Communication 320 course (M COM 320) helped shape them into powerful presenters and storytellers, which impacted their trajectories. Teshima says that his 30-second presentation “unlocked countless opportunities for me and my career.” And Gent secured a second internship with the FDIC.

Liz Dixon, associate professor at BYU Marriott, describes the course as “the glue that holds it all together” for business students because—whether they are presenting to bankers or board executives—communication is key. “No matter your expertise in accounting, finance, information systems, or any other field,” Dixon says, “if you cannot clearly and concisely articulate complex concepts using everyday language, nobody knows what you know.”

Dixon oversees the M COM 320 curriculum, dozens of professors, and more than 30 sections of the course offered to about 2,000 students each year. She says,

“I could tell you story after story after story of executive-level BYU Marriott grads who come back and tell me how they use the skills they learned in M COM 320.”

How does the class turn students with diverse majors and writing skills into powerful communicators? “The biggest challenge for anyone who is communicating in business is to understand your audience,” Dixon explains. The course helps students do exactly that through team-based projects, carefully designed writing assignments, and frequent feedback.

“M COM flips your mindset,” Teshima says. “It’s not about what you want to share. It’s about what your audience needs to hear.”

For BYU Marriott students, understanding the audience isn’t just good business—it’s also good discipleship. “The vision of M COM 320 is to transform the world through Christlike communication,” Dixon says, “and we do everything with an eye single to that vision.”

Gent felt that transformative power as he applied the course’s communication principles to his spiritual life. “Building communication in relationships is such an important part of the gospel,” he explains, “especially when you consider how Heavenly Father communicates with His children and how we receive that communication.”

Now a senior director for Sam’s Club, Teshima also teaches early-morning seminary in Arkansas. He’s learned that sharing powerful stories—whether about guacamole or the gospel—changes lives. He reflects, “M COM 320 taught me that the strongest leaders, just like Christ Himself, are storytellers.”


Written by Shannon Keeley