From left, MC seniors Alisha Shadid, Michael Howard and Alicia Slaughterback make up the Business Strategy Game company Eclectic. They'll learn around Thanksgiving if their company was able to hang on to its top world ranking.
For two consecutive weeks, a group of Monmouth College students posted the highest possible score in the Business Strategy Game (BSG), an online business simulation and worldwide competition that is part of the college’s 400-level capstone course.
Seniors Michael Howard of Auburn, Alisha Shadid of East Peoria and Alicia Slaughterback of Paw Paw appear to have the top spot locked up among the eight Monmouth groups participating. But thanks to back-to-back perfect scores of 110, they are now hoping to stay tied for the No. 1 spot among more than 4,500 teams from 300 colleges and universities.
“McGraw-Hill sponsors the most comprehensive and challenging business simulations in the world,” said the group’s professor, Don Capener. “I am proud of the work by Alicia, Alisha and Michael in becoming champions worldwide in the GLO-BUS competition.”
Each of the 15 weeks of competition is meant to simulate a year of selling a certain product (for this semester, it’s digital cameras), and the group will learn its final worldwide ranking on Thanksgiving Day. In addition to an overall score, the groups are ranked in three areas: earnings per share, return on equity and stock price. Their company, which they call Eclectic, has posted back-to-back weekly top-50 ratings in earning per share and stock price and two straight top 70 performances in return on equity.
“You should be quite proud of your students for such an excellent performance,” wrote the game’s organizers in an e-mail to Capener. “It’s a performance that reflects quite well on you and the caliber of instruction that students are receiving in your course.”
“Students playing the game make potentially hundreds of decisions weekly in the areas of marketing, finance, management and economics,” explained Keith Williams, one of Capener’s departmental colleagues. “It’s a great way to pull their education together and to see their decisions in action. One important lesson that we hope they learn is that they can’t assume that what worked today will work tomorrow. The competition and other conditions are constantly changing, and they must adapt.”
“We’ve tried to keep our costs low,” said Howard of the group’s basic business principle. “We’ve also tried to have a high market share and to sell the highest-quality product possible at a price no other company can match.”
That seems like a strategy other companies might have employed, but Howard said the group “started that way from the very beginning. Others have tried to copy it, and when they adapted, it hurt us a little. But we were able to make adjustments more easily since that had been our plan all along.”
Slaughterback noted that the group also pays a great deal of attention to its image rating, which is “like our star quality,” she said. “It’s affected by discounts and things like that. We invested heavily in marketing from the beginning of the year.”
So what’s the reward for finishing the semester on top of the world?
“We’ll get a good grade,” said Howard. “We’re not sure what else Professor Capener might do.”
Those specifics remain unclear, but Capener noted that the general reward could be very valuable.
“Their success in this competition speaks volumes about the quality of our business administration graduates and their ability to compete in business after graduation,” he said. “Despite the grim economic news, the future is very bright for these students and for all Monmouth business graduates with high aspirations and the willingness to work hard.”
An accounting major, Howard said he hopes to obtain an internship next summer, then pursue a master’s degree in accounting in the fall. Slaughterback, who is also majoring in accounting, is applying for positions with auditing firms and will sit for her CPA exam next fall. Shadid is working on Plans A and B, looking for a job related to her business major while also applying to nursing schools.