Benedictine University business students are gaining practical experience well before they take on internships or land that first job.
They have out-performed thousands of their peers at other colleges throughout the world managing a virtual shoe company, bested the S&P 500 with $100,000 of the University’s money and provided marketing consulting services to local businesses.
Recently, graduate students in John Draut’s Strategic Management course earned a Global Top 100 ranking participating in the Business Strategy Game (BSG), an online exercise that parallels the functioning of the real-world athletic footwear market.
Participating in the (BSG) provides students with valuable, real-world business skills and allows them to make a variety of different business decisions in an environment that replicates a competetive business atmosphere.
“The students learn to work as a team, make decisions that affect the financial health of the company, utlize all of their training at Benedictine and develop lifelong business skills that cannot be gained solely in the classroom with me lecturing to them about theory,” said Draut, an instructor in the University’s Master of Business Administration program.
Students must make decisions related to plant operations, distribution and warehouse operations, workforce compensation, online sales, traditional sales, marketing and finance. The challenge is to craft and execute a competetive strategy that results in a respected brand image, keeps the company in contention for global market leadership, and produces good financial performance as measured by earnings per share, return on investment, stock price appreciation and credit rating.
Results are released weekly for the roughly 12,000 students and 400 teams representing 40 countries who compete in the BSG. Since Benedictine began offering the simulated business game to students, Benedictine teams have landed in the Global Top 100 ranking for 88 weeks.
Students have several other opportunities at Benedictine where they can gain real-world business experience.
Members of the Investment Club at Benedictine have honed their investment skills using a special fund set aside by the University. Students, who initially were given $100,000 of the University’s money to invest, have consistantly outperformed the S&P 500 during the past seven years. Today, the fund’s value stands at $190,000.
“This portfolio is real money, and while it is not our money, it is our responsibility to invest wisely,” said Alex Huba, a junior Finance major from Naperville and the club’s president. “Investing is more than just throwing your money in a stock and walking away. It takes a lot of discipline to be a good investor. Anyone can pick a winning stock, but it takes a good investor to make money.”
Students who participate in the Investment Club gain experience selecting suitable investments in stocks and bonds, and learn how to manage risks against rewards. They also learn how current events and external factors such as political, economic and even weather conditions can affect an investment return.
In 2011, students enrolled in a course titled “Promotional Strategy” led by associate professor Nona Jones, Ph.D., developed an integrated marketing communications plan for Charism Elder Living Services in Westmont.
Their plans included the creation of a new website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, print advertisements, brochures and other promotional items. Some of the recommendations so impressed the company’s president that she has already incorporated some of the class’ ideas into the promotion of her business, Jones said.
“Reaching out to the local community in this way, such as assisting a business involved in meeting the needs of the elderly, provides students unique opportunities to put into practice what they learn in the classroom and at the same time advance the Benedictine heritage of service,” Jones said.
Finance students and other business majors recently began using Bloomberg Professional service, a financial monitoring system used by central banks, investment institutions, commercial banks, agencies and law firms in more than 160 countries.
Business students are also collaborating on a business plan with students in Vietnam via Skype, mirroring how global companies operate and use technology to bridge georgaphic as well as cultural barriers.