Strategies for Tomorrow

by Sarah Cushing - Office of Marketing | May 11, 2016
For University of Valley Forge (UVF) students Tim Piatt '16 and Will Toy '16, their senior capstone course tested their strategic analytical thinking and ability to multitask. Professor William Clarkson, Ph.D. taught the senior capstone, which consisted of two parts: case studies and the Business Strategy Game (BSG). They earned more than a superior grade — they earned a virtual company's successful future. 

BSG is a high-end simulation game used in undergraduate and graduate business courses worldwide, where students manage virtual companies and compete in a simulated global marketplace. For eight consecutive weeks, and the final ranking, Piatt and Toy ranked in the top 100 for their strategic performance, competing against more than 5,900 teams from more than 350 schools worldwide. They ranked 14th in the world for their company’s earnings per share, and ranked 16th for their company’s overall stock price. While they began the game without much of a plan, their formulated strategy proved to be successful. “We focused on two things: product quality and giving our employees the most that we could,” Toy said. “By the third week in, we had national ranking.”

Each week equated to one full year in the game. In a week of decision rounds, Piatt and Toy logged into the game’s website, evaluated factors such as their company’s production, sales, global distribution, branding and corporate social responsibilities, and decided how to advance their company. After each decision round, they watched their monitors closely as sale, stock, credit rating, ranking and other numbers rose and fell. They continued to strategize and assess every action to make the best-suited decisions. Each week dozens of decisions were made, and one week over one hundred decisions were made by the duo. The simulated game is based on a 100-point scale. Calculations are made and scores are given based on how the students and the company performed and other various company factors. Piatt and Toy scored 109 points out of 100. “We have been the best producers in the market,” Toy said. "And we have had close to the majority of the market,” Piatt added.

A few UVF teams in the past broke into the top 100 ranking, but Piatt and Toy were the only ones to achieve top ranking and stay there for eight consecutive weeks. Clarkson believes that the reason UVF students perform well is because the game applied the knowledge and tools Toy and Piatt received during their four years in the UVF Business program. “The curriculum that feeds into their senior year prepares them to do this stuff,” Clarkson said.

Carlene Ball ’05, UVF adjunct professor in the Department of Business, also taught BSG this spring. Her microeconomics class of juniors participated, preparing for next year. Ball participated in BSG twice: as an undergraduate student at UVF and as a graduate student at Cleveland State University. As a professional in the business world, Ball saw that BSG covered every aspect of business from finance to economics and marketing. “As a student, that was beneficial for me because I could see business at work before being in the workforce,” Ball said. “The game translates well into business and gives the ability to see all of the different aspects of a business.”

After UVF, Ball worked in the Bank of New York financial management office. Currently, she works part-time at a start-up equine veterinary business, managing various aspects of the business. She also became an adjunct UVF professor in 2014. In her experience working in the business world and successfully working through the game, Ball has learned truths that apply to both small and large businesses. “Every piece of the puzzle within the game has a ripple effect throughout the entire process,” Ball said. “You change one thing and you don’t really think about its impact, but then you see that every aspect of the business changes.”

Piatt and Toy will join previous UVF alumni successfully integrated in the Christian and secular business world, using their skills to serve and lead in business.