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Soloist savours HKMA win

For the first time in its 41-year history, the Hong Kong Management Game champion is a one-man band. Tony Wong Luen-tung, who competed under the team name Modern Youth Alliance Association, beat the other four finalist teams to bag the HK$5,000 cash prize and round-trip air tickets to Singapore. He also won the South China Morning Post Perpetual Trophy.

Wong, who works as assistant chief financial officer at a listed corporation in Hong Kong, will represent the city in the Asian Management Game to be held in 2013.

The first runner-up was Team Get-A – made up of George Lau, Anna Cheng and Twinkle Lee – who took home a HK$3,000 cash prize. The second runner-up was Team Straight Wins formed by staff from Hactl – Rosaline Wong Sik-chee, Johnny Yip Wai-fung, Gil Pang Yee-tsun and Will Ng Tak-pan – who won HK$2,000.

Featuring a sophisticated and realistic online business simulation programme, the annual contest, organised by the Hong Kong Management Association, attracts over 400 managers, executives and students to form teams to compete in a risk-free yet exciting environment.

Spanning three months since early June, the competing teams played in an online tailor-made programme via e-mail. The game became steadily more exciting as teams were eliminated ahead of the final round held at an HKMA venue. The five finalist teams had to come up with business decisions to boost profits for their imaginary electronic-gadget enterprises.

The game’s designer, Russell Morris, said the champion had implemented consistent marketing and pricing strategies. “He wanted to be the second best at everything, such as the second-highest price and the second-lowest cost. By combining all these ‘seconds’ together, he came out on top,” Morris said.

Given the type of gadgets marketed by the game’s imaginary enterprises, Wong’s “middle of the road” strategy turned out to be commercially viable, Morris noted, adding that he had in fact trailed the other finalist teams in the first few periods of the final. “He made a strong recovery from the bad start [in his business] in the last two decisive periods and put himself in a good position [for winning],” Morris said.

He said it also helped that Wong had something to prove. “He had to work so much harder because he was doing four people’s work on his own. He was very consistent and disciplined.

“He also demonstrated a high level of analytical ability. Although he made mistakes at the beginning, he made a quick reassessment of his strategy and made a quick recovery. He also paid close attention to what the other finalists were doing.”

He said that overall the finalist teams embraced excellent teamwork and reached consensus on their collective business decisions, the essence of the game.

The game’s objective is to help managers and executives sharpen their management skills in a risk-free yet realistic simulated environment, said HKMA executive director Dr Victor Lee.

“Its format encourages contestants to apply their knowledge and experience to make multiple business decisions. While the team which has consistently made the best decisions wins the game, those that have made mistakes will not see their businesses suffer real losses as a result. This risk-free environment helps inspire the participants to innovate on business strategies and incorporate new ideas in their decisions,” Lee said.

“We believe [the game] is an ideal training tool for managers to upgrade their skills and cultivate their strategic thinking. The contestants may apply the same innovative strategic thinking at their corporations.”

To outwit other contestants, participating teams had to embrace a holistic approach to decision-making and draw on their professional knowledge and skills in various specialised areas, including finance, logistics, accounting, marketing and human resources, Lee said.

“At the end of the day, the success and sustainable development of an enterprise hinges on its business decisions which reflect the full integration of skills and knowledge in all these areas. Through the Management Game we aim to convey the message that sound decision-making is a comprehensive mechanism encompassing all these crucial areas,” he said.

The entrance requirements for the game are highly flexible. Colleagues from the same corporation can form a team of four to enter the competition. The game also welcomes business executives from different companies to enter as a team, or individual contestants.

The ultimate goal of management teams is to navigate through the frequent changes by adapting to Hong Kong’s ever-changing business environment and maximising their return on investments. Companies are required to constantly update their management techniques to achieve this goal, Lee said.

“As a management organisation and organiser of the game, HKMA regularly reviews and updates the various elements to reflect new changes in the commercial sector or new relevant government policies. For example, we may include new elements to reflect new tax incentives for corporations introduced by the government. In other words, the game accurately reflects the current business environment in Hong Kong,” Lee said.

He added that the scale of the competition could expand next year, with the HKMA encouraging more students to participate by sending formal invitations to local tertiary education institutions, in addition to business enterprises.

The game is sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways and the Maxim’s Group. The official media partners are the South China Morning Post, Classified Post, Jiu Jik and