Being CEO, president and director of a $100 million company is no small feat, even if it is an online simulation.
Just ask five innovative MBA students from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba who recently did just that. They ended up placing in the top one per cent among nearly 1,000 business student teams from across North America, Europe, Australia, China, the Middle East and India.
Chris McDonald, Mary Birley, Rupander Dahiya, Lisa Knechtel and Jason Hamilton recently wrapped up a multi-week, comprehensive and interactive online business strategy game called the Capstone Business Simulation as part of their final core course in the Asper School’s MBA program.
Although they’re looking forward to advancing their careers with their new degrees, there’s one aspect of being a student they’re definitely going to miss.
“For me [Capstone] was addictive,” laughs Birley. “I was clicking on website every five minutes to check how we were being rated every week. I miss it already.”
Birley and teammates had good reason to log into the Capstone site and regularly check the status of their weekly project entries, assignments, and results.
From start to finish, the team continually earned top ratings in all six competition rounds, each of which represents one simulated year in the life of the company. The team finished with a cumulative profit of $156,945,174 – more than double than any other team in their class, or 32 per cent of the market.
“We managed to double our market share and we were top in every segment in our class,” explains McDonald. “Sometimes we had too much money.”
As the team watched others scramble to the bank for emergency loans, the Asper team repeatedly outdid itself on a weekly basis. The team ascribes its success to several factors: good group dynamics, lots of preparation early on, strong players, and reinventing the game.
Most teams adopt the functional organizational structure recommended by the Capstone manual, where each team member controls the research and development, marketing, production and financing of one of their products.
Instead, each member of the Asper School MBA team chose to work together, combining all departments in order to serve the particular needs of each customer-market segment. Adopting a product division structure allowed the team to rally around all five of their products together, allowing it to serve the particular needs of each customer-market segment.
“Everyone told us we couldn’t do it like that, but to us the recommended way is not functional,” explains Hamilton. “I think our model gave us a better experience. We learned a lot more because we needed to strategize to help that product instead of just focusing on one department. Later on some of us took on roles to specialize within each department as well.”
As far as applying what students experience and learn during the business simulation to real-life business applications, the group says it couldn’t be better prepared.