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Business Students Finish Among the Best of the Best
09.28.12 |
College students sometimes wonder when the material they learn in the classroom will be put to use.

For seniors in Professor Robert Leonard's Business 485 class, the wondering has ceased. The Strategic Management course, a capstone, not only brings together the disciplines they have learned over a student's four-year period, but also gives them the opportunity to show off their skills through an international business strategy simulation competition.

Encompassing all of the material they have learned, the students faced off last spring against 3,990 other teams from 263 Colleges and Universities. Other schools in the competition included The Pennsylvania State University, Duke University, Arizona State University, and more.

The team performances in the competition also make up 15 percent of their overall grade for the course. Leonard began the semester by dividing students into 11 teams comprised of 4-5 individuals. The groups not only competed against one another, but also the other teams involved - close to 4,000 in this edition of the simulation.

Team Fantastic Footwear was made up of Matt Becker, Joseph Brennan, Kristin Moore, Mary O'Malley, and Mark Zuczek. This group hit the competition's top 100 teams list four times during the competition and finished in a tie for first place with 30 other schools in the overall game score. The team finished with a total of 110 points out of a possible 110, based on overall score, earnings per share, return on average equity, and stock price.

Another LVC team, Dynamic Performance, with students Bruno Iozzo, Caitlin Baro, Monique Derfler, and Tyler Trout, hit the top 100 list twice under the Return of Equity category.

"My sophomore year, we did a similar simulation in International Business and my group finished first then, so it was a personal goal of mine to finish in the top 100 this time," said Mark Zuczek. "We ended with a perfect score based on best in industry and beat a lot of teams in various categories to finish as we did."

This is a tool Leonard has used for eight years, but this is the first time any LVC team has finished in the top 100 list of the competition, let alone tied for first.

"The contest brings together everything the students have learned over their four-year career, and in real simulation, not just tests and class work," said Leonard.

An eight week long endeavor, the simulation requires each team to manage an organization in the competitive athletic footwear industry. All work done on the project is online and can be accessed 24/7. If students are unavailable to meet to work on the project, a built-in instant messaging component enables them to communicate.

"Using prior experience from International Business, my team members and I crafted a strategy off the simulation guide," said Zuczek. "We always went back and referred to the guide, constantly focusing on knowing the simulation in and out. It took a lot of dedication as the guide was more than 40 pages, but the team worked well together."

Teams work to run the organization weekly, including production, plant construction, worker compensation, shipping, distribution, pricing, exchange rates, celebrity endorsements, and financing decisions. After the weekly data is posted to the strategy website, the teams meet with Leonard to discuss their performance, but he chooses to give little advice and keep the students independent.

"This is an extraordinary feat for their team," said Leonard. "We should be proud of their accomplishment and the caliber of students representing LVC."

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