Division of Marketing & Communications

By: Posted on: August 22, 2013 In:
Zach Grah '13 with his business strategy competition team.

Zach Grah ’13, left, and his fellow students ran a simulated company for 20 consecutive quarters, culminating in a competition against 29 other universities in Long Beach, Calif. (Photo by John Strutzenberg)

Capstone teaches student the strength to take risks

By Barbara Clements

Zach Grah ’13 gained the mental toughness and confidence to take risks through his business capstone – a business strategy competition. And that toughness and confidence paid dividends, later, when an opportunity to work for a new business venture presented itself.

Grah was one of six business majors who participated in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition in Long Beach, Calif. For the competition, student teams create a simulated company, develop a product concept and business model for that company, and then run that company – top to bottom – for a simulated 20 consecutive quarters. Grah was elected as CEO of the “business,” ResoLute, which competed against 29 other teams.

According to his advisor, Associate Professor of Business Kory Brown, each student typically spends 300-500 hours preparing for and participating in the competition.

“Students are stretched in ways no other academic setting can,” Brown said. He calls simulations like these “the real world with a safety net.”

For Grah, the team’s CEO, that meant for about six months, he was managing his team and setting goals, as well as handing a team with strong, and often different, opinions. It gave Grah the confidence to say yes to a job at a start up this summer.

“I don’t think I would have had the confidence to join a startup without having to go through the competition first,” Grah said.