Team Aerial, a group of University of Nevada, Reno business students, has made its mark in the international GLO-BUS competition, a simulated online competition that focuses on competitive business strategy, finishing the competition in a tie for first out of 1,402 teams from 94 different colleges and universities around the world.
Last semester, Professor Rafik Beekun’s Management 496 class divided itself into 12 teams, all of which competed against each other and other schools in the competition. The teams were in charge of a virtual camera company and made decisions regarding their company’s marketing, products and costs each week. At the beginning of the fully online exercise, all teams’ companies were given equal sales volume, revenue, profits and brand recognition. Each week, teams rose or fell in the company rankings, based on the decisions they made.
Teammates Stephen Graves, Jon Ansolabehere, Maureen Mensing, Jace O’Mallan, Jonathan Pluvinet and Katie Keating, who comprised Aerial, developed a strategy of evaluating their competitors before each weekly deadline, trying to guess what moves the other “companies” would make and making their own decisions accordingly.
“We tried to be one step ahead, so we could be proactive and lead the course instead of having to react to all the other teams all the time,” said Graves, the team leader who graduated in December with a dual international business and management major.
Beekun has had students participating in GLO-BUS for fifteen years, but this is the first time one of his teams has reached this level of success.. He said one of the most essential factors behind their achievement was Aerial’s ability to work cooperatively as a team. Often, one of the most difficult parts of the competition for students is not developing business savvy, but learning to work together.
“I’ve had ‘A’ students [in the competition] before who did poorly because they lacked teamwork and leadership skills,” he said. “But Aerial was great in that area.”
Beekun said those who can master the art of teamwork are able to take advantage of the very diverse pool of talents in the competition.
“It’s very eclectic,” he said. “We have management, marketing and film majors being placed in one team. Undergraduates and graduates work together. All of those different perspectives must come together to create a successful company.”
Ansolabehere, a December 2009 business administration and information systems graduate, agreed. Any inexperience he had with certain sides of business was filled in by his teammates’ knowledge.
“For example, I hadn’t dealt very much with stocks and the stock market, but my teammates knew a lot,” he said. “By the end of the semester I had learned a ton.”
Beekun expects the collaborative aspects of GLO-BUS to help students in their careers later on.
“This is the best learning experience because it forces them to work with different kinds of people from many different disciplines, like they will have to do in the real world,” he said.
For Ansolabehere, the competition was one of his last college experiences. He appreciated that it gave him the chance to synthesize everything he had learned throughout his undergraduate career.
“I’ve been through marketing, through supply-chain management and through all the other business courses, and I needed to use all of that in the competition,” he said. “It helped a lot to have it all come together.”
“It allowed us to implement what we know instead of just going through more book-learning,” added Graves. “You get to use all the components, and not just focus on one.”
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