Over the past semester, a team of Illinois MBA students has been running a fictional company, iTech, in between classes, the internship search, and school activities. iTech produces the most innovative flash drives on the market. Through our participation in the International Collegiate Business Strategy case competition, Tian Gan, Alan Lu, Mina Rhee, Adam Smith, Nhan Vo and me have guided iTech to a large market share and high stock price after seven “years” (ten weeks) of careful management.
The International Collegiate Business Strategy case competition is hosted by California State University – Long Beach. The competition itself begins in February, with “management teams” at business schools making weekly decisions via computer simulation about their company’s strategy, including finance, marketing and operations. Each team competes against several other teams in their fictional “world,” striving to offer the product with the right price and quality for consumers in two countries.
The competition culminated last weekend, April 18 – 20, with an on-site competition and presentation in Anaheim, California. When we arrived on site in Anaheim, to our surprise, one of iTech’s top suppliers had just been hit by a tsunami, reducing our supply. Over the next thirty-six hours we saw our stock price, net income and market share fall as the aftereffects of the tsunami took place. We presented these losses, and our plan of action, to our “board of directors,” the judges of the case competition.
After an intense year of managing a company in crisis, and a tough meeting with our board, we got iTech back on a path to growth, ending the competition on an upward trend. After a semester of hard work, the rewards were sweet. Not only did we miss Champaign-Urbana’s brief April snow; we won first runner-up at the competition!