Risky business

Team members (from left) Kirsten Years, Nevin Hindiyeh, Alyson Udell, adviser Manuchehr Shahrokhi, Clint Stitser, Kyle Goodman and Ryan Frinfrock competed April 17 to 19 in San Diego.
Photo courtes of Manuchehr Shahrokhi

Fresno State proved that it could take care of business between April 17 and 19.

It was during the last days of the 44th annual International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC) when a team of six Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) students trailing for the lead ended up placing first in Overall Performance, Stock Market Investment and Report Writing.

Although students from around the world participated in the competition, the six Fresno State students in the World V division were only up against Cal State Long Beach, Mount Vernon Nazarene University of Ohio and Willamette University of Salem, Oregon.

Throughout the 10 weeks of the competition, the team was judged on their competence at managing a simulated company. Their decisions concerning policy development, stock prices and market share were all things taken into consideration to determine their success.

“Teamwork was the key element to our success,” said the team’s chief executive officer, Kristen Years, in a press release. “Each of us brought a different skill set and perspective that together made for a winning competition.”

In addition to Years, the other five team members were Nevin Hindiyeh, Alyson Udell, Clint Stitser, Ryan Finfrock and Kyle Goodman. Each was recommended by faculty advisers based on their academic merits.

Applied ThermoTek, Inc., the simulated company chosen by the Fresno State team, had theoretically developed a device that converts heat given off by computers into usable energy.

In addition to drafting a business plan for the company, the team was required to submit weekly status reports online to board members and shareholders. Judges would then evaluate the reports and determine if the team’s decisions were correct.

“If they made the right decision, their stock goes up and their market share goes up and they’re in great shape,” said Manuchehr Shahrokhi, team adviser and the Craig Fellow Professor of Global Business-Finance.

For the last three days of the competition, the team traveled to San Diego, where instead of weekly reports, their decisions were evaluated on an hourly basis. According to Shahrokhi, this was the most intense portion of the competition.

“[The judges] wanted to see how management makes decisions under pressure,” Shahrokhi said. “As variables change, they make their changes accordingly.”

Shahrokhi came on in the last half of the competition after the team’s first adviser, Charlene Coe, fell ill. At the time he arrived with the team in San Diego, they were rated second to Long Beach State. It was only after they decided to put all their apportioned amount of stock into their own company that Fresno State came out ahead.

“In real life, diversification is the key,” said Shahrokhi. He admitted that it was a risky move but added, “They thought the best investment would be their own.”

The competition started 44 years ago under the name Reno Games. Fresno State has been competing since 1975. In ordinary circumstances, there would have been two teams competing, but due to limited resources and faculty, only the six members of the graduate team competed this year.

“The ICBSC was an amazing experience,” said Hindiyeh, the team’s chief operating officer, in a press release. “It enabled our team of MBA students to utilize the knowledge gained through the Craig School of Business MBA Program, and directly apply it to real world scenarios.”

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