Strategy for Success: SOM Capstone Students Compete in Real-Time Business Simulation

The "Champion Wheels" team, comprised of Mohamed Isahawk '15, Kelly Scharch '15, Erica Clemons '14, and Cesar Lazo '15, took top honors in the Fall 2014 SOM Strategic Management Showcase. They were mentored by Jim Schworn (center), a 2006 EMBA graduate who is Chief of Procurement and Support Services for NJ Transit and the Mayor of Branchburg, N.J.

As regular viewers of "The Apprentice" reality television show can readily attest, teamwork, a competitive spirit and management savvy are three of the key factors in running a successful business. For the seven top-performing teams enrolled in the Strategic Management fall semester capstone course offered by NJIT's School of Management, the first Strategic Management Showcase was an opportunity to strut their business stuff in a real-time simulated environment.

Using the Smartsims interactive interface, the teams were given the task of managing MikesBikes, a simulated online bicycle manufacturing company. During the course of six 45-minute sessions, with each session representing a one-year time frame, they worked with mentors to strategize business plans, make decisions, analyze their results as well as those of fellow competitors and grow their virtual businesses.

The winning team, “Champion Wheels,” was comprised of Mohamed Isahawk ’15 (Accounting), Kelly Scharch ’15 (Construction Management Technology), Erica Clemons ’14 (Business Management), and Cesar Lazo ’15 (Computer Science). They finished with a shareholder value of 136.89 and were awarded a cash prize of $1,320.

As a student majoring outside the School of Management, Scharch said that the business simulation was “very challenging, in a good way.”

“Allowing students to play a simulation game such as MikesBikes encourages them to get a feel for how they will apply their knowledge outside of the classroom,” Scharch said. “All in all, it was a great experience!”

Isahawk agreed, “It was an amazing course with tons of vital information that when applied in the right mix can produce excellent results in the real world.”

Shanthi Gopalakrishnan, a professor in the School of Management, coordinated the business simulation exercise.

“All the students displayed remarkable ‘strategy acumen’ and very impressive decision-making skills,” said Gopalakrishnan. “The top teams displayed remarkable judgment and competitive spirit.”

The Strategic Management Showcase was the brainchild of Ray Cassetta ‘70, a municipal labor negotiator and chair of the School of Management Board of Visitors. Cassetta, who was the first recipient of School of Management’s Outstanding Advisory Board Member award in 2009, gave the opening remarks at the dinner and awards ceremony that followed the simulation exercise in NJIT’s Campus Center Atrium.

“Be proud of the fact you’re here,” Cassetta said. “All of you should look at what the others did and learn from it.”

Amir Elfar ‘07, chief information officer of Omnicom Group, gave the keynote address. He told the students that the capstone was his favorite course in the EMBA program and that an NJIT degree will help prepare them for lifelong learning.

“Keep on learning,” Elfar advised. “This is the best place to be.”

By Christina Crovetto