Double-degree seeker Timothy Shiveley, a student in the Professional MBA Evening Cohort program as well as an MS in Business Analytics student, scored 820 of 1,000 possible points in the online international business simulation competition.
Capsim, the Chicago-based simulation and assessment company that sponsors and runs the twice-yearly competitions based on two of its simulations, reported that Shiveley outperformed hundreds of students from 10 countries across five continents.
Despite — or maybe because of the COVID-19 pandemic — Capsim Challenge Coordinator Cassandra Schieltz reported a 25% increase in participation in the spring event.
Challenges are open and free to Capsim “alumni,” undergraduate or graduate students who have learned how to run one of the online simulations in a class. Individuals can compete on their own or on a team with a maximum of five members.
Winners demonstrate their capabilities in research and development, marketing, production, finance — and other business functions — and adapt them to run a multimillion-dollar simulated company and lead it to success in an international marketplace.
Results are recorded in a “balanced scorecard,” a metric that measures company performance in four categories: financial, internal business processes, customer, and learning and growth. (Chasteen has examined the scorecard in depth in one of three posts about the Capsim Challenge he has contributed to JSOM Perspectives, the Jindal School blog.)
Shiveley, a solo competitor who learned the Foundation simulation in Chasteen’s online Strategic Management (BPS 6310) course, told Capsim using the simulation “really aided in understanding the meaning underpinning many financial ratios.”
Additionally, he said, “it was a nice introduction to the way decisions in one area of the business interact with the input conditions and output decisions in the other areas of the business, something that is commonly lacking in lectures, since each course usually focuses on one portion of a business at a time.”
Currently a data engineer at USAA, the San Antonio-based insurance and financial services company targeted to members of the military, veterans and their families, Shiveley aims to leverage his two JSOM degrees to accelerate his career and fast-track into a management position overseeing others performing the same kind of work.
He thinks he excelled in the challenge because he enjoyed playing the simulation and “spent a great deal of time” working through various input decisions and analyzing the proforma scorecard — an estimate of what end-of-year financial statements would look like given his decisions — to determine how well that strategy should perform.
Shiveley also praised his evening cohort MBA classmates as another source of his success. Conversations with them about their professional experiences, he said, helped him solidify underpinning concepts.
Chasteen said he thinks the strong competition Tim got from the other cohort class teams really helped prepare him for the finals.
In a Capsim press release, Shiveley noted that during the eight self-paced qualifying rounds that opened April 9 and closed April 23 “there was a recession scenario, where both the high-tech and low-tech sectors experienced reduced demand. I enjoyed that round and the round after because it provided an excellent opportunity to focus my investments on optimizing production through automation, instead of needing to expand capacity just to meet rising demand. The excess profits from those rounds more than made up of for the increased costs associated with increasing capacity in later rounds.”
The six highest-scoring individuals or teams advanced to the one-day finals, another eight rounds of competition, with each round lasting one hour.
Shiveley prepped for the finals by revisiting classroom information and by talking with a past JSOM winner.
“In class,” he said, “we were split into two ‘industries’ of six competing teams, and I only had access to the historical records from my industry; so first, I sought out the reports for the other industry from one of my classmates and studied those.”
Next he conversed with fall 2018 Capsim winner Brendan Wiley, a 2018 JSOM Online MBA alumnus, about his finals experience.
“Then my final set of actions …was to draw up what I thought my first-round strategy — which would set the tone for the rest of the competition — should be,” Shiveley said. “That way all I needed to do for the first round on the day of the competition was to conform that strategy to the industry conditions we were given.”
Chasteen, who routinely encourages his Strategic Management students to enter the Capsim challenges, has a growing list of winners and top finishers, including:
• John Setty, a 2015 Executive MBA alum. who won second place in the fall 2015 Capsim Foundation Challenge
• Brendan Wiley, a 2018 Online MBA alumnus, who won the challenge in fall 2018 with the then-highest score recorded to date, and
• Yang (Eric) Liu, a 2020 MBA alum, who finished fourth in the world in fall 2019 challenge.
— Kristine A. Imherr