A team of students from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School beat competitors from more than 870 universities around the world to win a €10,000 top prize in The Global Student Challenge – a test of supply chain finance and management skills.

Students from Foreign Trade University in Vietnam were in second place to win €6,000 with Novosibirsk State Technical University in central Russia coming third, picking up €4,000.

“The Global Student Challenge was in our opinion the most worthwhile student experience we’ve had during university. It gave us a chance to apply our knowledge in a real environment,” said team captain Karol Yearwood.

The winning team from University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School

This was the third time the competition has taken place. Qualification rounds took place all around the world between May and October last year followed by national rounds. More than 300 teams then qualified to progress to the regional finals held between December 2016 and March 2017. Just 21 teams made it through to Global Final week, 9-14 April in the Netherlands.

At the heart of the competition is a business simulation game called The Cool Connection, a supply chain finance training tool involving a fictional manufacturing business of personal care products. The game has been widely used by some of the world’s top businesses and universities. Scenario-based challenges are presented to the teams, each consisting of four members who play the roles of vice presidents of purchasing, finance, sales and supply chain. They act as a new management team charged with turning around the loss-making business. The challenges become more complex as the game progresses.

The impact of decisions

The competition attracted teams from more than 870 universities around the world

“The Cool Connection simulation offers a true insight into what consequences business decisions have,” said Yearwood. “The best thing about the experience was definitely team-work. It showed us that to truly succeed, the team has to coordinate all of their decisions together, as each role has a direct impact on all other parts of the business.”

Manuel Rivera, a member of the fourth-placed team from Cal Poly Pomona in California, said, “Not only has the journey throughout the entire competition been an educational influence on importance of Finance within the supply chain management field but also an eye-opening experiencing on how vital it is for one to improve on their critical thinking, communication and team work skills within any industry in order to succeed.”

The competition is managed by Inchainge. Business development manager Jacky Emerencia told SCF Briefing that students who later get an internship in a business “are surprised at how representative the business simulation is of how things actually work in a company. The simulation was not created from theory but from business practice.”

A common factor across all the teams that performed best, says Emerencia, is “They understand what impact their decisions have. One team improved its performance significantly when they figured out that what they were doing wrong was their lack of teamwork: they were doing what was best for their own silo and not what was best for the ‘company’. Teamwork and communication are extremely important, and understanding the interdependencies and the trade-offs in the game.”

Win or lose, she says, for all the teams, “it was all about the learning experience they have and the cultural experience that they have and learning to work in teams.”

The new Global Student Challenge starts in the summer. Students can pre-register to reserve a place and claim their chances to be the next big winners of the Global Student Challenge.

The 2017 finalists

The Global Finalists, 2017

1st University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, Scotland (€10,000 prize)
2nd Foreign Trade University, Vietnam (€6,000 prize)
3rd Novosibirsk State Technical University, Russia (€4,000 prize)
4th Cal Poly Pomona, USA
5th Indian Institute of Technology BHU Varanasi, India
6th Shanghai University, China
7th Politecnico di Milano, Italy
8th McGill University, Canada
9th Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece
10th TU Delft, Netherlands
11th Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany
12th Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
13th COPPEAD UFRJ, Brazil
14th USC Marshall School of Business, USA
15th The School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden
16th Humans of ENSA, Morocco
17th BI Norwegian Business School, Norway
18th Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA), Argentina
19th University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia
20th Chongqing Technology and Business University, China
21st National University of Singapore, Singapore