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Sticking to their guns

Published on Saturday, 02 Aug 2014

KTMC’s solid strategy secures win at HKMA Management Game, writes Jolene Otremba.

A slow but steady approach and an unwavering dedication to their strategy proved the winning formula for team KTMC, the champions of the Hong Kong Management Association’s (HKMA) Hong Kong Management Game 2014. 

The team, made up of old secondary school friends from Kwun Tong Maryknoll College, beat four other teams in the Hong Kong final. Competitors had to manage a designer T-shirt company, outperform their rivals and turn the highest profit in order to win. 

Game designer Russell Morris said KTMC “were careful what they did to start with, let others explore the market for them, used the information they got from that, and kept to their strategy, which is really important.” 

The team with won HK$5,000, the SCMP Perpetual Trophy and four air tickets to compete in the Asian Management Game in Singapore. However, the most important prize was the insight, experience and lessons learnt from competing in the game, they said.

 “We learnt a lot from playing this game,” said team leader Eric Chan Kwok-san. “We had to take the market environment into consideration, and we had to see what other competitors were doing in order to make a good decision. These are all very good experiences for us.”

Morris explained that one of the key differences of this year’s game was that it mimicked real market scenarios more closely. Whereas in the past the game was set against a background of large market growth, this year the final rounds saw almost stagnant conditions. This made the game much more challenging. 

“Apart from the typical decisions like pricing, marketing and production, teams had to make strategic decisions like reacting to market recalls on product safety and handling staff concerns about the working environment,” Chan said. “Teams were also challenged on their ability to predict the market demand.”

At the end of the six periods of competition, KTMC had made HK$18 million in profit, finishing ahead of a team from Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (HACTL) and Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering (HAECO). HACTL had three teams in the final.

Morris said that another winning factor for the championship team was their ability to create market desire. “It was a garment company producing designer T-shirts, and they were very high fashion. They made them so that three to four months later no one wanted them; it made the market desirable, as you know how fashion is constantly changing.” 

Effective management skills, good job allocation, open communication and being able to compromise when different opinions are presented also contributed to the win, said team KTMC, which has now competed in the game eight times, winning four. 

“We keep coming back to play the game because we have learnt so much and we really enjoy the time we get working together as a team,” said team member Edmond Lee Yip-man. 

Having experienced the evolution of the Management Game over the years, the team certainly felt that this year’s competition was much more challenging because it mirrored real-life scenarios much more closely. 

The market environment changed in every phase of the game, as did the exposure to difference scenarios and situations. And there are definite advantages to this, said Morris. 

“If you make a big mistake, you simply loose some pride, but you don’t cost your employers huge sums of money – it’s a training ground,” said Morris. “I know some employers use this game to look at future employees to see how they would react under these circumstances.” 

For those interested to join the game next year, team KTMC had a few tips. “Firstly, time management is very important, a lot of decisions have to be made in a very short time, so allocate the jobs wisely and come up with conclusions as fast as you can,” the team said. 
The team set up excel sheets to input and analyse data as quickly as possible and found a method that allowed them to understand each aspect of the task to make quick decisions. This, they felt, gave them an upper edge. 

The game was sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways and AS Watson. The official media partners were the South China Morning Post, Classified Post and Jiu Jik.

Game Winners

Champions: Team “KTMC” – friends
Eric Chan, Louis Ho, Edmond Lee and Marcus Wong

First Runners-Up: Team “HACTL MT” – HACTL 
Kelvin Wong, Sophia Chan and Jeffery Tse

Second Runners-Up: Team “Bravo Alpha” – HAECO 
Phemie Wong, Coco Lau, John Li and Tong Yat-shun