stories | Students

The King’s College Business Students Take First Place in International Business Competition

May 1, 2018 | Jane Scharl

For the first time in the history of The King’s College, a team of students took first place in the prestigious international business competition CapSim. Thousands of students from around the world compete in the biannual competition. This year, the team from The King’s College business strategy course, taught by Professor Dawn Fotopulos, advanced from the semi-finals round and bested five teams in the finals to win first place.

After the competition, Professor Fotopulos said, “The King’s College Business Strategy students have secured at least one of the top six positions in the CapSim World Finals six out of the last seven years, which is impressive enough. But this year, they took the top spot by the widest margin I’ve seen in all the time I’ve taught this course.”

The competition consists of a simulation that puts students in realistic decision-making roles as they run a multi-million dollar company. The simulation includes finance, marketing, product development, labor negotiations, and human resources issues. The teams begin with a $40-million dollar corporation, and situational changes occur every hour, forcing the teams to make key decisions involving hundreds of variables to keep their company afloat. These variables include internal elements such as production, marketing and sales, business organization, and scaling, as well as external influences like economic downturns and fluctuating interest rates. This year, teams faced a rattling six recessions in the eight ‘years’ represented by the competition.

Enoma Osakue (Business ’18) and Rudy Valdez (Business Dec ’18) served as Co-Founders for the Chester Corporation, the simulated company for The King’s College. They were responsible for considering all the variables and making strategic decisions to keep the company growing and to prevent bankruptcy — a common fate in the CapSim competition. In fact, the King’s team led the only company that did not go bankrupt. Enoma says, “The best moment during the competition was when the only other solvent company went bankrupt!”

Enoma and Rudy worked with the support of an advisory team consisting of Noah Campbell (Business ’19), Carter Fletcher (Finance ’18), Hannah Hagadorn (Business ’19), and Kylie Locklar (Business ’18).

Professor Fotopulos commented that the team achieved impressive synergy during the competition. “The performance of this team is the stuff legends are made of. They developed all their forecasting models well in advance. They were ready for the six recessions CapSim threw at them. They were the only team that never went bankrupt. This team worked together like a well-oiled machine.”   

For the students who participate in the competition, the experience of working together and making decisions jointly in such a competitive environment integrates everything they’ve learned in The King’s College business curriculum. Co-Founder Rudy Valdez found that the pressure of the competition helped him develop powerful and efficient communication with his co-founder Enoma. “The best moment,” he says, “was when my co-founder and I were able to communicate without talking or even looking at each other.”  

“It’s a rite of passage for the King’s students who’ve participated,” Professor Fotopulos said of the Capsim Challenge. “It’s where students get to see their decisions playing out, with real consequences. It’s a live case study which prepares them well for the real world after they graduate.” To underscore the accomplishment of the King’s team in winning first place, Professor Fotopulos said, “Keep in mind most people do not have access to CapSim until they are in graduate school, so The King’s College was competing with undergraduate as well as graduate students to win this coveted title.”

This year, graduate and undergraduate students competed in the Capsim Semi-Finals from more than 20 countries including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico, Kuwait, Thailand, Turkey, the West Indies, and the United States. The top six teams advanced to the finals competition, held all day Saturday, April 21, 2018.

“It was a spectacular performance,” said Professor Fotopulos.

“This is a banner moment for King’s and for our Business and Finance students under the expert guidance of Professor Fotopulos,” said Provost Dr. Mark Hijleh. “We are so proud of them and their achievement as it reflects on our mission to prepare students for helping to shape and eventually to lead strategic institutions.”