We were competing with other companies who chose to enter the same markets and provide similar products. We were also cooperating with each other by having synergies from common investments, building long-lasting trustful relationships and strategic alliances, etc.
The Intopia Business simulation is one of the highlights of the MBA program at ESMT, and now I see why. Through this simulation we had an opportunity to try and use the knowledge taught in previous MBA courses. Finance, marketing, negotiations, business and corporate strategy, operations management, micro and macroeconomics, judgment and decision making, human resources management etc… all these courses suddenly turned into a real practice when we started the simulation. Where should we invest our money? Which markets? Which industry? How are we going to have competitive advantage? Is the competitive advantage sustainable? How are we going to organize the work inside the company? Who is going to be responsible for what? These and many other questions were discussed and analyzed thoroughly in every group before the simulation started.
While knowledge from the previous courses was helpful, it was not enough. You need both hard and soft skills in order to be successful. Even if you build a very good tool to forecast your cash flows or carry your inventory management, you still need to find suppliers and customers and negotiate with them to keep your business operating and to realize those nice cash flow forecasts. In other words, you need to have an excellent relationship management. This was the hardest part. Negotiations were taking place in two dimensions: inside the company and outside the company. To be a good negotiator outside the company, you first need to be a good negotiator inside the company. It was vital that everyone in the company had a common objective and was eager to help each other. We had very short period of time for making decisions, and mutual help and trust were the important factors for managing stress, avoiding painful mistakes and keeping the Intopia spirit high even in hard moments. So the simulation was also a test for understanding ourselves and others better and also developing a sense of how to manage team dynamics.
Overall this was a great chance to experience the management of the company from the starting point to its future growth. I think every business school that positions itself as amongst the best should have simulations like this. The Intopia Business Simulation ensures that we not only get knowledge, but that we also develop the skills needed for our future managerial careers.
About Sona Rostomyan
Sona Rostomyan is a full-time MBA student at ESMT who was nominated as one of the Kofi Annan Fellows this year. Prior to joining ESMT as an MBA student, she started her career at one of the most rapidly growing banks in Armenia (Ameriabank CJSC) working first in the customer service department and then in the back office. She has more than four of years experience in the banking industry (including customer transactions formalization, and account management). She enjoys solving mathematical puzzles, reading books and has a passion for photography.