Two teams from Idaho State University’s College of Business brought home a total of four trophies from this year’s International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC), hosted by California State University Long Beach.
As part of the competition, students worked as executive teams charged with running a simulated company based on a product that they had fictitiously created. The teams created a strategic business plan, an annual report and competed with teams from across North America and Europe by making five years (20 quarters) of computer-simulated decisions over 12 weeks. The competition culminated with 72 hours of intensive decisions and a presentation to a team of judges from corporations throughout the state of California.
Students have had the opportunity to participate in the ICBSC this year and over the past eight years thanks to the generous sponsorship of Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU). Every year, ICCU’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kent Oram and his leadership team give their time to listen to the teams’ presentations and provide mentoring on their areas of expertise.
“The insights that our students gain from working with such generous and knowledgeable business leaders are essential to the program’s success,” said Alex Bolinger, Professor of Management and co-adviser to the teams with Dawn Konicek, Clinical Associate Professor of Accounting at Idaho State.
The two teams from Idaho State competed in different divisions (or “worlds”) with schools (from California, Utah, England and other locations) that were often two to three times the size of Idaho State University. The College’s first team, Bouje Bidets, developed a unique, customized luxury bidet as their product. They took home the runner-up trophy for Best Written Documents. Team members of Bouje Bidets included Nikole Layton, John Lancaster, Keegan Sullivan, Emma Watts and Marcus Humphreys.
The second team, R3CYCL3D, devised a product using recycled materials to create 3D-printed bicycles. R3CYCL3D won three trophies including Best Overall Performance, Best Presentation, and runner-up for Best Documents. R3CYCL3D’s team consisted of Michael Pond, Jon Hurt, Jonathan Shafer, Megan Busz and Kristin Aarness.
For both teams, one of the greatest challenges was the initial learning curve of using the simulation. Emma Watts, a double major in Economics and Political Science, said that “Each member of the team has to read a 200-plus page players’ manual and figure out what decisions they will make. For example, as the Chief Marketing Officer I took the lead in making quarterly decisions on advertising costs, salary and commission payments, and the number of salespeople in each area.”
The complexity of the simulation stretched the students and required them to lean on each other as a team.
“This competition put me outside my comfort zone,” said Master of Business Administration (MBA) student Keegan Sullivan. “Being able to run a simulated business with team members brought us really close to a real-world business setting.”
MBA student John Lancaster added that “this experience tested my ability to work in a group setting in the most intensive way I've ever experienced. The goal we worked toward throughout the competition required the best of each of us individually as well as complete trust and collaboration between all of us.”
The simulation gave participants an opportunity to gain a collaborative, integrated understanding of how great businesses thrive.
“The team is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Michael Pond, who is earning his MBA with a cybersecurity/information assurance emphasis within the NIATEC program at the University. “When we worked together as a team, we were able to accomplish much more than we ever would have been able to alone.”
MBA student Megan Busz added that, “I learned that business isn't just about studying a diverse group of subjects, it's about weaving all of the knowledge together into a masterpiece."
The competition and the support that the students received from faculty and staff and ICCU’s executive team allowed participants to gain confidence in their abilities to lead an organization in the future.
“I especially found the feedback we received from the ICCU team and College of Business faculty during our practice presentations to be paramount to our team's success,” said Masters of Accounting and MBA student Jon Hurt.
According to MBA student Jonathan Shafer, “This experience, unlike many things in life, lived up to every single aspect of the hype that was put into it. It was the ultimate experience in running a business without using my own money.”
Idaho State University is the only school in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming to offer students the opportunity to compete in the ICBSC.
“We are so grateful to ICCU for facilitating this opportunity,” said Bolinger. “This competition allows students to see for themselves that they can compete with anyone in the world. It just reinforces what we constantly tell our students: With an education from the Idaho State University College of Business, you can go anywhere.”