Business Competition Gives Students A Glimpse Into Global Teaming

Sheb True
Sheb True

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 6, 2015) — The Coles College of Business recently launched the first Coles Conexus Challenge, a global business competition for students.

The competition is designed to challenge participants and demonstrate their business acumen as a member of a team spread across the world. Sheb True, director of the Conexus Challenge developed the program as a way to prepare business students for the increasingly global business world. 

57 students from 12 universities in 12 countries participated in the simulation.  The students were divided into 12 different teams with four to five members on each team. 

“These multi-national teams in a virtual online environment provided the students with an opportunity to work in a global context that they will encounter in the future,” True said. 
Coles MBA student Michelle Girage chose to join the challenge because she had never worked on an international project before and saw it as a good way to gain new business experience. During the first cultural section she saw the difficulties in connecting with a team based in different time zones.

“All of my team members were from different countries, so our first challenge was schedules,” Girage said. “Our biggest time difference was 12 hours and we had to work around that to include all of our team members.”

Another challenge Girage and her fellow team members faced was language. While all participants spoke English, there were varying dialects and levels of fluency.

“I quickly realized that we could easily communicate, but I had to be more thoughtful about how I phrased things,” Girage said. “You realize the number of things you say that aren’t necessarily proper English and don’t make sense to someone else.”

The simulation only takes a few hours to complete, but the students were given four days to allow them to get acquainted, discuss a teaming structure and strategy, and to accommodate their schedules and the time-zone differences.  

During the simulation each team was given a company and had to develop and execute a business strategy in a competitive marketplace on functions like market, product lines and operations.

Girage’s team worked together to take their company through 18 fiscal quarters, ultimately winning the challenge.  Her teammates were from universities in Canada, Germany, India and Morocco.  

“Through the simulation we had to make adjustments like how to price products and who we would market to,” Girage said. “We’d get results and have to adjust and change. It took a lot of back and forth and communication between the team.”

After completing the challenge, Girage said she would encourage other students to apply and take advantage of the opportunity to learn global teaming first-hand.

“This (Conexus) taught me to work in a team environment with people I didn’t know anything about,” Girage said. “ I learned that even though you may not know someone on a personal level, or be in the same time zone, you can still successfully collaborate.”

The next Coles Conexus Challenge will be held in September 2015 and is currently accepting applications. In addition to the business simulation, students will complete a cultural assessment and participate in a leadership and teaming exercise to help them better communicate and perform more effectively as a multi-national team.  There will be two divisions, graduate and undergraduate, and the winning team members will come to Atlanta to meet with company sponsors and attend an award banquet.

For more information on the Conexus Challenge please visit Conexus.