PUC students gain #1 ranking in worldwide, simulated business competition

A simulated business, developed and managed by three Purdue University Calumet students, has achieved a No. 1 ranking among 2,646 student business teams representing more than 200 higher educational institutions worldwide.

Christopher Holeman and Michelle McGehee of Hammond and Valparaiso resident Katie Proper, seniors in Purdue Calumet’s School of Management, have teamed up in a management senior capstone course taught by Assistant Professor of Management Arifin Angriawan. As a course requirement, the students are competing in the online edition of The Business Strategy Game, published and marketed by McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Competing in the game are collegiate teams of business students from 201 higher educational institutions across the world, each operating a simulated athletic footwear company. The student teams apply best business practices to develop competitive strategies for global market leadership in competition with rival student “companies.”

Specifically, the Purdue Calumet student trio’s virtual footwear company, Diggity, topped all collegiate competitors in the category of Return on Equity during the week of Nov. 22-28. Their 84.7 percent ranking score represents the percent of profits generated relative to shareholder-invested equity.

During the same reporting week, Diggity also ranked 38th worldwide in stock price performance ($322.82) and 45th in Earnings Per Share ($17.25)—Purdue Calumet records for all three rankings.

Demands of the game call for the students to analyze their market, pore over corporate reports and other literature, and develop a strategic business plan for their company that addresses interest and prospect for success, while seeking to boost year-to-year corporate earnings.

The class serves as an experiential learning opportunity for graduating seniors in Purdue Calumet’s School of Management.

“Not only do the students learn, operationally and strategically, how to run their firm,” Angriawan said, “but they also apply entrepreneurial skills based on what they’ve learned in other classes.”

The climb to Number 1 in the world, according to Proper, was exhausting, if not overwhelming.

“There was so much information to process,” she said. “At the beginning, we definitely suffered from information overload. Even though it’s a simulation, we tried to treat it as a real business. That’s what I’m most proud of; we weren’t just trying to manipulate numbers.”

Said Holeman, “Originally, our business strategy was to keep costs low by producing a lower quality product. But then we opted on a strategy of ‘borrowing’ a lot of start-up money and investing it in production and marketing of a high quality shoe that, ultimately, we would be able to manufacture at a lower price; and that’s what has happened.

“We spent a lot of time studying the market and anticipating our competitors—like a chess match. As it turned out, our forecast was dead accurate based on our projections of competitors.”

The Business Strategy Game, in which Purdue Calumet management students have competed for nearly four years, emphasizes strategic planning, Angriawan said.

The Holeman-Proper-McGehee team, one of eight from Purdue Calumet that has competed this fall in the game, has qualified to compete against other top achieving teams worldwide next month.

“This class was a review of everything I’ve learned in business management: finance, accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, operations and marketing,” aspiring financial analyst Holeman said.

Proper, who anticipates a career in accounting, said, “It makes me realize why I had to take all those other classes.”

Proud of his students’ success, Angriawan added, “Overall, their achievements reflect the quality education of Purdue Calumet’s School of Management. They learned from many outstanding professors.”

Asked his biggest take-away from the simulated business experience, Holeman said, “It’s a level of confidence. You think you’ve learned all these concepts, but you’re not really sure. The results we were able to achieve showed, ‘Yes, we really did learn, and we know what we’re doing.’”