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Members of the PC Solutions team meet to go over their latest idea. Front row, l-r: Jonathan Lee, Julie Philip and Kaushal Thapa. Back row, Marketing and Finance Professor Carolyn Tripp and PC team member Anna James.
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Marketing Students Take Global Competition by Storm

March 1, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Great minds think alike, and even greater minds put teamwork into action to make things happen.

That's exactly what four Western Illinois University graduate marketing students did to their rivals in the business world to earn a second place finish in the 23rd Annual Marketplace Global Competition. According to Marketing Professor Carolyn Tripp, the prestigious international competition pits students, established corporations and entrepreneurs against each other in a virtual business world.

Julie Philip of Macomb (IL), Kaushal Thapa of Nepal, Anna James of Blandinsville (IL) and Jonathan Lee of Cherry Valley (IL) participated in the competition during the Fall 2006 semester as part of an independent study class led by Tripp.

The students created the online company PC Solutions, which marketed desktop and laptop computers. Because of their innovation – and teamwork – the quartet was able to beat such universities as Notre Dame, and losing the first place finish to a real world business professional.

"Our win proves the validity of the high quality and standards that Western's College of Business and Technology embodies," said James who will graduate in Fall 2009 with a Master's of Business Administration (MBA), said. "Our instructors and professors can, and do, provide an outstanding education that can compete with the top business schools in the nation."

The students first encountered the virtual world of business development in the course, Marketing 516, when they competed against their classmates as part of a class project.

"With their competitive nature, the team decided to take it to the next level," said Tripp, who is one of two professors at WIU to receive the Innovative Learning Solutions, Inc. Marketplace Trainer Certification.

That next level was the Marketplace Global Competition in which teams from around the world competed by creating and running virtual businesses. The competitions were separated into three flights with three teams going head-to-head in each flight. PC Solutions won its flight and placed second overall.

"The competition is a virtual version of a real business enterprise," Philip, who will graduate in Fall 2008 with a MBA, explained. "We learned what it takes to start a business by doing market research to learn where to build a factory and run the day-to-day activities of a business."

PC Solutions credits its win to teamwork and dedication.

"We really didn't have all the frictions you might have in the real world [within our team]," Philip added. "I think that's one of the reasons we were successful."

Like many of their decisions, the group agreed by majority to designate each member to a certain job. Thapa was in charge of finance, Philip took care of manufacturing, James made promotion decisions and Lee created product designs.

After working on their specific job, the team met each week to receive updates from one another and make business-related decisions. This sense of team cohesiveness, along with Tripp's assistance, allowed the group to overcome being too conservative, Thapa said.

"We were the joke of the class [during the first competition] because we were so conservative," said Thapa, who will graduate in May 2007 with a master of accountancy. "After the initial competition, we learned to take some risks."

Their unique blend of skills allowed PC Solutions to show off their expertise to the marketing world. According to the Marketplace website, the virtual competition is comprised of a sophisticated computer program that mimics the competitive, ever-changing business world. More than 100 companies and 300 business schools from around the world have used Marketplace's online business games to gain experience.

Tripp has been using different levels of the complex game since Fall 2004. The simulation is used in all Principles of Marketing courses and Marketing Management courses.

Although Tripp uses the game in many of her classes, this was the first time a group of students wanted to compete internationally.

"I'm proud of this team and the efforts they put into this competition," Tripp added. "It has been a rewarding experience watching them work together and grow as business professionals"

Members of the PC Solutions team agreed the competition was an invaluable learning experience and one member credits the simulation with obtaining a position with the E-commerce division of a Fortune 500 company.

"I think the simulation got me the job actually, because I talked a lot about it throughout my two interviews," Lee said. "The simulation set us apart from other MBA students, and this job opportunity reinforces that belief."

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