Senior business major Hayden Sanders from Charlotte, N.C., and foreign exchange student Gabriel März from the University of Applied Science Augsburg in Augsburg, Germany came in 14th place in the Capsim Foundation’s Challenge. The Challenge consists of more than 400 universities from over 30 countries, with a total of 244 registered teams. This biannual competition gives students the opportunity to showcase their competitive business performance by running a multi-million dollar simulated company.
Ironically enough, the two students started off as opponents in a management and organizational behavior class. Dr. Suzie Smith, the Robert Vance professor of economics and business administration, led the class where the two students first competed against one another. Sander’s and März’s were separated in two conferences made up of nine three-member teams where they focused on Capsim simulations. Both of their teams came in first in their individual conferences and Sander’s team came in first overall in the class.
“The way I figure it, they won against 94 percent of the other teams in the international competition since they beat 230 out of 243 other teams,” Smith said. “The field is incredibly sharp and aggressive. Many schools at the top ranking have a dynasty at their university in which a professor and/or Capsim Challenge veteran student will coach the next generation of players based on their collective experience.”
The two competitors formed a team to join the international competition when Sanders approached März to create a team after seeing success in both of their teams.
“I knew Gabriel’s team won the other conference and came in number two overall, so I just asked him,” Sanders said. “I said, ‘You have the number one team in your conference, let’s just try it. Dr. Smith made it seem super hard. She said if we made the top 50 percent that would be great.”
In their individual groups, Sanders and März competed using different business strategies. Sanders used a conservative consumer based strategy that focused on providing the best performance and price to the consumer, while März focused on an aggressive strategy of trying to have the most products and over-saturating the market.
“At first we came together and talked about our different views and how we thought our strategy worked,” März said. “We agreed on a course which fit for both of us. I guess we learned from each other. He was a little more into conservative financing and I was just into aggressive spending, but we found a middle way on that one.”
“In business, we often hear that diverse teams result in higher performance even though it may take longer to work through their differences,” Smith said. “Gabriel and Hayden did not know each other before this class. They both brought their own unique intercultural business skills, insights, and background to the game.”
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