August 27, 2007
Florida Business Team Best in the World with Big Win in Cyberspace
They finessed finance. They projected product sales. And in the end, a team of Webster University business students in Jacksonville, Florida is the best in the world winning the 3rd Annual World Wide Technology Webster MBA Capstone Competition.
Marie Burns, Tai Roberts, Makeesha Allen and Billy Rogers beat out teams from all over the globe to cash in on real money by running the best virtual company. Dozens of teams from worldwide competed for a piece of this year’s $10,000 prize. To be the best, they had to make crucial business decisions for their virtual $100 million business that tested their expertise in everything from research and development to strategy and finance. In the end, the winning team made sales of more than $260 million and made a cumulative profit of $115 million.
”Marketing and forecasting is more of an art than a science,” says John Jinkner, the team’s advisor and business professor at Webster University-Jacksonville. “What made the biggest difference for this team was their ability to forecast sales into the future.”
Marie Burns, who works for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers agrees her team did a great job seeing around corners. But she also credits the team process for putting them in the winner’s circle. Everyone had a specialty they brought to their virtual boardroom. Billy Rogers has been in construction for most of his life so he knew production.
“We knew each other and our own strengths and weaknesses” says Rogers. “We all wanted a balanced strategy to carry us to the end, so we invested early and went for diversification. Then we tried to analyze the numbers of our competitors to see if there were patterns we could work off of.”
Keeping one eye on their rivals proved important as the team pulled out into the lead in just the last two rounds of the simulation.
“In the real world, you can't just focus on what your business is doing,” says Tai Roberts, a senior accountant for Ceva Logistics. “You have to make sure you know what your competition is doing.”
Many universities use business management simulation software to help their students understand how to manage business entities. Some even hold competitions among their students on campus. But Webster’s worldwide competition may have the largest reach, says Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of Webster University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT). The SBT (www.webster.edu/SBT) has 13,500 students around the world in more than two dozen undergraduate and graduate programs. Since it is one of the largest business schools in the country with campuses all over the U.S., Europe and Asia, the competition is open to thousands of alumni and MBA students all over the world.
“We have students entering the workforce everyday and the type of real life learning they leave Webster with is exactly what this competition is all about”, says Dean Akande. “It challenges these competitors and all our students to take what they’ve learned in class, put it to the test in real life business scenarios and like our winning team from Jacksonville, see their hard work pay off!
For the winning team that means a $5000 prize. The second place team of Sara Russell and David Cooke from Fayetteville, AK will receive $2500. Mirian Sordia and Ikuko Tanaka from Geneva, Switzerland will split the competition’s third place prize of $1500. And, Professor Jinkner, who is one of the SBT’s more than 1500 faculty members who support students worldwide, receives the remaining $1000 in prize money for sponsoring the winning Jacksonville team
Webster University (www.webster.edu) is an international, multi-campus university, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 1915 as a small private college, Webster now offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges. The university has grown to become an international network that includes 107 domestic and international campuses. The student population of more than 20,000 men and women ranges in age from traditional college-age students to adult learners, and represents more than 100 nationalities. The university is committed to excellence in teaching, to joining theory and practice, to small class sizes, and to educating students to be lifelong independent learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.