DelVal students beat thousands of teams in a simulated business competition

May 10, 2011

By Annmarie Ely

DelVal students competed this spring in The Business Strategy Game, an international online business simulation competition that ranks teams in four categories each week.

During the week of April 4-10, the DelVal team behind Lucky Laces, a simulated shoe company, came in fourth in the return on equity category, beating 5,162 teams. DelVal students Erin McGettigan, Greg Mullin, Felicia Erdie-Lilly, Bob Mergner and Kim Zampirri ran Lucky Laces.

Teams from about 313 colleges competed during the week of April 4-10.

Another DelVal team ran the simulated shoe company Kow-bung-a Kicks, which was ranked number 16 out of 5,166 teams in the stock price category during the same week. Lee Laveson, Tony Phillips, Matt Mullin, Nicole Bennett and Susan Grady made up that team.

DelVal has never had teams score this high.

“Every week on Sunday, we’d know if we made it into the top 100,” said Mergner.

For overall score, during the week of April 4, DelVal’s Lucky Laces was ranked 96th. About 50 schools, including Gywnedd Mercy College and La Salle University, tied DelVal in overall score.

“What was especially gratifying is here you’ve got a mixture of students (continuing education and day students),” said Larry Stelmach, associate professor of Business Administration. “It just speaks to the type of people who come to DelVal and how well they work together.”

He said he was impressed by how well the students made business decisions.

The teams were graded and presented results on campus May 4, as though they were facing a real boardroom. College President Dr. Joseph S. Brosnan attended the presentations, acting as a “board member” and providing feedback.

The students from Lucky Laces said they’d definitely recommend the competition to other students and that it would be something they’d be bringing up on job interviews.

“We learned how to work together to make decisions,” said Mergner, a graduating accounting student. “It’s a good thing to refer back to in an interview. A lot of employers ask you about what you’ve done as a team. I’ll definitely bring this up.”

Each week was one year in the simulation, teams all started at year 10 with the same resources. Students would login to find all the information on their companies, the prior week, all the information that would be available to a real company.

“We planned our years in advance,” said McGettigan. “We looked at how our decisions would affect us two years from now.”

They had to make decisions such as setting the stock price, whether to go green, whether to purchase celebrity endorsements, what markets to cater to, and much more.

Lucky Laces did decide to bid on celebrity endorsements, which were given fake names such as “Oprah Letterman.” They bid on three celebrities because they were trying to cater to the North American market, which they said was most receptive to endorsements.

“I loved our team,” said Erdie-Lilly.

“We had a great group dynamic,” said Mergner. “I was surprised how competitive I got.”

The team said a big part of why they got along was that they all took criticism really well.

“The competition gave us a lot of motivation,” said McGettigan, a graduating business management student. “We wanted to be the best, not just in our class.”

“I feel like the experience has made me kind of want to start a business a little bit more,” said Mergner. “It gives you a better perspective of the business world.”

Lucky Laces had plants in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Their stock started at $30 per share and by year 17 (week 7) was up to $368 per share.

Their image rating went into their overall score and stemmed from everything  from whether they went green, gave to charity, or had well trained employees.

The team said they hit a 99 percent image rating at one point.

“Of course everything costs money, said Mullin. “So that was part of the balancing act.”

McGettigan said the game was like the “grand finale of all of college” where he was able to test everything he’s learned from English courses to business courses.

After commencement, Erdie-Lilly and Mergner will be job hunting. McGettigan will continue to work for Teva Pharmaceuticals. Two years ago he ran for Quakertown Borough Council. He plans to use what he’s learned from the experience to pursue a career in politics.

Director of Continuing Education Robert McNeill said the competition is a good way for students to learn about the business world.

“Hopefully this experience will be a great reflection on the college,” said McNeill.