A simulating learning experience
"The best way of learning is learning by doing," says Glover Chan Wing-wah, senior marketing manager of the Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA), the competition's organiser.
"Yet companies prefer young executives to avoid taking excessive risks throughout their learning process. A feasible solution is the management game."
Participants are given the opportunity to try out what they have learned without the risk of losing any real-life investments.
The game simulates the business world and allows participants to practise specific skills, such as taking calculated risks, making sensible business decisions and formulating strategies that can help them to outperform competitors.
"The game enables participants to take a holistic view of a company," Chan says. "Participants will come to appreciate how the different parts or divisions of an organisation interact with each other."
The target is not to try to beat the computer software, Chan says. "To excel in the game, a team has to formulate a strategy based on the prevailing economic environment, anticipating what other competitors will do and taking into account the resources they can get hold of."
The game is designed to reflect the business environment in the real world. It provides a full scope of training so that participants can learn how to run a business, successfully utilise their comparative advantage and encourage sales of their products.
"Other than learning how to analyse trends and train us on our business sense, the game provided me with an opportunity to get to know more about my teammates," says George Lau Chi-hang, team leader of IFA-Prophet, last year's champion.
Lau and his teammates are undergraduate students of the insurance, financial and actuarial analysis programme at Chinese University.
"Our programme trains our analytical skills and enhances our business knowledge and skills, which helped us a lot when we made business decisions," says Kayley Cheung Hoi-ki, who was responsible for the team's marketing and promotional work.
The game operates under different circumstances and periods so as to test participants' ability to tackle problems that arise from different business environments.
This means that a business background and knowledge are useful to participants when they read the various data and balance sheets.
However, being able to manage hard skills is not enough. Participants need to excel in soft skills such as negotiation and, most importantly, team building.
"We are good friends and understand each other,"
Cheung says. "I think this was one of the most important factors that helped us win. We did not have any arguments and we did our best to incorporate our parts in order to enhance our performance." Frankie Lau Chun-ho, who was in charge of the production lines and decisions, adds: "We have similar mindsets, so we were able to avoid conflicts and concentrate on adjusting our production and improving sales while predicting the strategies of our competitors."
After winning the competition, IFA-Prophet had the opportunity to compete in the Asian Management Game held in India where they finished second.
"The competition did not only enhance our business and management skills," says Joe Wong Sung-on, who was the comptroller of the team.
"It also broadened our horizons and gave us an opportunity to not only interact with local team but also teams from other Asian cities when we were in India."
The game trains those who want to improve their business and management skills while also providing practical training to people who are interested in setting up their own businesses.
"In business, there is no right or wrong answer," Chan says.
"The essential point is that the management is fully aware of the strategy of the company and plans its operations accordingly and consistently."
- Registration deadline May 3 (trial round) and May 22 (official round)
- Game final July 31. The winning team will go on to the regional final in September
- Key sponsors
South China Morning Post, Classified Post, Jiu Jik, Cathay Pacific, FANCL, John Swire & Sons, Ma Belle Jewellery, Maxim's Group
- Inquiries Mei Tang 27748553; S.H. So 27748550; or Christine Choy 27748552 Companies prefer young executives to avoid taking excessive risks throughout their learning process.