Anyone who is a gamer or a natural competitor knows what it means to “level up” in a challenging environment. It comes with tougher encounters, harsher competition and — for those who succeed — a richer feeling of accomplishment.
Last month, a College of Business student at Montana State University Billings found all three when he found himself among the top five competitors in a global simulated business competition.
Tanner Lambert, a finance major from Columbus, participated in this semester’s International CapSim Business Simulations Challenge in the Capstone division, the top level. Of the nearly 1,000 participants worldwide, Lambert finished fifth, putting the MSU Billings student among some of the best business colleges in the world and cementing Lambert’s reputation as a star academic performer in the College of Business.
Just this past spring, Lambert won the CapSim Foundation Challenge, the precursor to the Capstone challenge.
“I was the only undergraduate to make the finals,” he said in a recent interview. “It was a great experience.”
For Lambert, who turns 26 in January and is set to graduate in the spring of 2013, the Capstone challenge proved to him that he has the work ethic and determination to succeed in the business world. The online simulation had him managing a multimillion-dollar enterprise with multiple markets, labor challenges and financial issues. Decisions are made under deadline pressures, and one wrong assumption can sink an otherwise solid plan.
“How you allocate your resources is very important and your strategy has to be focused and spot on,” he said.
No other MSU Billings student has ever competed in the Capstone level. Lambert said while he was pleased with his overall performance, he especially proud of what the results showed about the level of support and expertise of the MSU Billings faculty.
“Since this was a higher level, it kind of motivated me to show others that we’ve got a good school here,” he said. “This really put MSUB on the map, especially in the business college world. No school our size is in the top 10.”
Lambert graduated from Columbus High School in 2005 and entered the Merchant Marine Academy. After an injury left him unable to complete the academy, he ventured in to the higher education arena, starting first at Montana State University in Bozeman and then transferring to MSU Billings for his business education.
He said he knew he finally found a college home his first semester in the College of Business.
“The faculty and the types of skills they have given me in four years are unbelievable,” Lambert said. “The education is practical and useful and this (the competition) shows the faculty are doing all the right things.”
The energetic and focused Lambert said when he decided to move up a level to the Capstone challenge this fall, he found overwhelming support from his peers and the College of Business faculty. Practice took place during the semester and the final, two-day online competition took place in late November. Lambert said his faculty mentors were with him the whole way.
“They bend over backwards to help you succeed here,” he said.
The CapSim Challenge is broken into two groups: Capstone and Foundation. While similar in scope, the Capstone Challenge requires students to run a $100 million business whereas the size of the company in the Foundation Challenge is $40 million.
Both competitions require participants to manage the business’s product development and finances, including selecting a strategy for their company, redesigning its product lines or creating new ones, as well as figuring out the company’s marketing and sales plans. In the Capstone challenge, developers throw in labor negotiations as well.
And just like the “real world,” during the competition, students have investors to answer to, sales goals to meet and competition to monitor.
The CapSim Challenge is also an opportunity for students to compete with other aspiring business leaders from around the world and to prove their own skills as a potential CEO or successful entrepreneur. This year’s event included over 1,600 students from several countries including Australia, Taiwan, India, Canada as well as the United States.
For more information on the MSU Billings College of Business and its programs, go to msubillings.edu/cob or call 657-2812.