Business Simulation Course Take Aways

Our students, whether in our corporate business simulation courses or at Northwestern University, take away a broad range of learnings from their experience. Listed below are a few that are representative of what we hear after our classes

And if you can’t get enough, click here for our students’ detailed take-aways from the Winter 2016 Engineering Management class at Northwestern University.

Business Acumen

“Needs and wants, as an agency owner you have a lot of wants but need to focus on the needs. So for me going on site to a client it is important for me to understand their needs and their wants.”
- Manager, Insurance Management and IT Consulting Company, February 2016

“Make the customers happy, and they’ll make you happy. If you keep their needs in focus, you don’t need to focus on your competition as much.”
Masters Candidate, Duke University MEM Program, March 2016

“Don’t make snap decisions, but make timely decisions and don’t get caught up in the little things.”
- Manager, Top-5 U.S. Insurance Company, December 2013

“In the middle of the competition, our firm forgot the assessment goals we had set, and the decisions we made during that time were not wise. We should always keep the goals in mind: some short-term benefit should be given up to meet longer term goals.”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, May 2013

“Plan long term even though you need to make decisions day to day.”
- Manager, Automotive Parts and High-Tech Company, October 2013

“Balance is everything. I got to see the balance at the executive level. The importance of keeping the mission aligned with the stock holders.”
- Operations Manager, Top U.S. P&C Insurance Company, August 2013

“Realized the complexity of, and have a better understanding of, what goes into running an insurance conglomerate beyond the claims world that I’m in.”
- Claims Director, Leading U.S. P&C Insurance Company, October 2013

“Value of relationships with supply chain. We used the same suppliers which helped include everyone “under the tent”. You need to value these relationships.”
- Supply Chain Manager, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, July 2008

“Insurance-carrier operations need to be closely aligned with insurance-agency operations – we got the chance to see this in action during the course.”
- Claims Manager, Top-3 U.S. Insurance Company, July 2007

Strategic Thinking

“Sound and well developed strategy is very critical for a business success. It drives analyses and decisions. It provides clarity to all decision makers and establish a common understanding between executive board members, who agreed on the strategy initially, resulting in effective team dynamics.”
Masters Candidate, Cornell MEM Program, March 2016

“Define your mission. (You shouldn’t decide to sell hot chocolate on a hot beach next to someone selling lemonade.)”
- Director, Semiconductor Manufacturer, September 2013

“My colleagues and I were in a meeting with several senior leaders, talking about a business situation. One of the leaders was referencing levers to address an issue (e.g., throwing more money to educate/train, adding compensation, etc.) while balancing the return to the business division. It absolutely paralleled the dialogue during our simulation and I would not have fully understood/appreciated her comments without the added insight I gained from the program!”
- Program Participant, Insurance Carrier, June 2013

“Defining a long term strategy allows you to focus and adjust as you move forward.”
- Manager, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, August 2013

“The mission, objectives and goals are so important to what we do. If you don’t stick to those you are like a bag blowing in the wind. It is easy to get lost in the day to day.”
- Director, Leading U.S. P&C Insurance Company, August 2013

“I learned that being the cheapest is not always the best. Sometimes you could actually sell a product at a much lower volume and higher margin to make much more revenue than if you sold a larger volume of cheap products. We learned this first hand when determining what the price should be for the minivan. We purposely priced it higher since we know that we would appeal to a much higher income customer segment and we made significantly more profit!”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, January 2014

“I learned the importance of taking the time at the front-end to get cross-functional alignment, being committed to a direction, yet continuing to assess.”
- Plant Manager, Snack-Food and Potato Product Producer, June 2010

Financial Understanding

“Focus on contribution margins – that $500 price drop seems small, but when it’s multiplied by 800,000 units, it’s a whole different matter!”
Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, March 2016

“No matter how much time you spend on strategy and marketing, if you do not understand the financial impact, it won’t help.”
- Mini-MBA Attendee, Semiconductor Manufacturer, September 2013

“I learned about balance sheets and Income statements. Being in test engineering, there is no exposure to the company’s financials. One thing that stuck with me is that accountants use the Accrual method. This can get somewhat complex because transactions are monitored regardless of when cash transactions occur.”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, December 2013

“I was struck by the fluidity of it all, this is why our financials are so important to our leadership.”
- Manager, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, August 2013

“The annual report exercise was extremely enlightening. Before I used to just gloss over that information but truly being able to understand it is really valuable. Now when earnings reports come out for my company and other companies, I can understand the terms they are using and I can make conclusions on the company performance.”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, January 2014

“It is key to use the financials to know yourself as a company and as a team, and your position in the market.”
- Director, Automotive Parts Company, September 2013

“Familiar with income statements and ratios, but forgot them. This was a good reminder.”
- Manager, Top-5 U.S. Insurance Company, November 2007

Alignment/Systems Thinking

“I was able to see how connected things were, for example changing commissions could completely change the focus of your insurance agency producers. The “trickle-down” effect.”
- Director, Insurance Management and IT Consulting Company, February 2016

“Everyday we get caught up in our own world, other facets of the business are also important.”
- Sales Director, Multi-State Heavy Equipment Distributor, September 2013

“In order to go through all of the data it was easy to lose sight of the big picture, I have new respect for the leaders who do this at our company.”
- Director, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, August 2013

“The inter-connectedness of all of the areas, building a strong relationship with all of the departments. The smallest change can have a large impact on other areas.”
- Manager, Top U.S. P&C Insurance Company, August 2013

“Big obstacles need to be overcome, but need to break it down into manageable pieces.”
- Chief Engineer, Automotive Parts and High-Tech Company, October 2013

“For the first time, I saw what it was like to make decisions for the entire company and see how all the different functions must perform together to make the whole company successful. As an engineer working in R&D at Kraft, which is a marketing led company, I always tried to justify why R&D is more important than marketing. But after running the simulation I now see that they both functions are interdependent and you can’t run a business without either one.”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, December 2013

“I tend to be conservative, but in this course learned the importance of taking risks and spending money on order to not lose out on opportunities.”
- Finance Manager, Automotive Parts and High-Tech Company, June 2010

“During this course I gained empathy for those in charge of resource staffing and gained a better understanding of this area.”
- Engineer, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, August 2009

“Lowering price doesn’t always increase quantity as much as you might think!”
- Underwriting Manager, Top-3 U.S. Insurance Company, July 2007

Leadership and Teamwork

“How to balance team energy and take advantage of each team members strengths while staying calm and cool.”
- Finance LDP Participant, Large U.S. P&C Insurance Company, December 2015

“The key turning point for our team was when we really stopped talking to each other and listened. We began to trust each other and really come together as a team.”
- Director, Semiconductor Manufacturer, September 2013

“Our company had a string of losses (negative profit) at a certain stage, but the team refused to give up and we were able to push the profits back up. It showed me that no matter how bad the situation, there is always a way out. It also reinforced the importance of team spirit during bad times.”
- Masters Candidate, Northwestern University MEM Program, May 2013

“I’m only one part of the answer when I’m on a team.”
- Manager, Leading U.S. P&C Insurance Company, October 2013

“Listening to each other and allowing everyone to have input while following the mission. Relying on each other.”
- Director, Leading Aerospace and Defense Company, August 2013

“Have to remember you don’t always have the answer, have to rely on the knowledge of others. It is complicated to run a company, need to use the input from others to make good decisions.”
- Manager, Regional Insurance Company, August 2013

“Learned optimism – your behavior and actions can effect other peoples behavior.”
- Engineer, Automotive Parts Manufacturer, May 2010