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Accounting student named Grand Champion in Best Strategy Invitational

| Carrie Ottum

Recently Trung Nguyen, accounting/economics major and finance minor, was invited to participate in the GLO-BUS Best-Strategy Invitational (BSI).

The invitational was conducted online and consists of 10-round playing of GLO-BUS among participants from universities worldwide. This was a very prestigious invitation as only the co-managers of companies across the world who are industry champions are invited to participate.

The Best-Strategy Invitational was conducted online over a two-week period from December 9-20, 2019.

BSI invited 369 teams to participate in the simulation, 30 of which accepted the invitation and were separated into three different simulation industries.  Central Optics, Nguyen's team, was named Grand Champion in the Industry 1 simulation.

Carrie Ottum, Outreach Program Manager, sat down with Nguyen, a Cottage Grove, MN native, to talk about his experience.  

CO: In the invite, it states that only co-managers of companies are invited to participate.  How do they discover the students who are invited? 
TN: Students are invited based on their team's performance in their industries versus other teams' performances in their class section. Teams that come in 1st place in the GLO-BUS simulation are extended an invitation to participate. I believe there should have been three other teams that received invitations to the BSI (as there were more sections of MGMT 449) but it seems that they opted not to enter the competition. 

CO: How does it feel to be included in this elite group? 
TN: I was incredibly honored and surprised by the invitation as I didn't know that the competition existed. I was invited to participate in the competition alongside my groupmates, but they opted out of participating and stated that I would be best suited to take up the mantle of being the sole manager for the BSI. By the end of the in-class simulation rounds, I was itching for more chances to refine my knowledge and my strategy so being invited to the BSI made my semester even more exciting. 

CO: Did any of your College of Business courses prepare you for this?  If so, which one(s) and how?
TN: I believe all of my College of Business courses prepared me for the competition in their own little ways. Via my accounting, finance, and economics courses, I understood the financial projection and planning aspects of the simulation; through my marketing and management courses, I understood the effects on consumer demand based on decisions around marketing and worker compensation expenditures; and through my time in the Strategic Management course with Brent Opall, all of my knowledge was put into practice via the GLO-BUS simulation. Being able to apply the learning I'd done in Professor Opall's class in real-time was vital to my team's performance in the simulation in class and absolutely critical to my performance in the Best Strategy Invitational. 

CO: How did your team place?
TN: Overall, I placed first in my industry under the company name "Central Optics" but it was a hard-fought battle. In terms of key performance metrics, I had a very solid lead ahead of most of the industry's companies, but my top rival was always trading positions with me for first and second place. By the 8th round, I began trailing a little more behind as the rival company "Dinkum Innovations" began scoring more bonus points (which are added to any company's game-to-date scores) based on their ability to leapfrog (having the most positive point gain per year) over other companies and ability to accurately make competitive predictions over how the industry will perform overall for that round. With the bonus points being added to Dinkum Innovations' total score, I was at a several point deficit with a small chance of recuperating the difference between my overall score and theirs. However, I stuck true to the strategy that helped me win both rounds of the simulation at UWEC and I made up the point difference in the final round, tying Dinkum Innovations for first place by scoring a crucial bonus point for accuracy in competitive assumptions to tie the scores. It was a nail-biting experience but I (as well as the managers of Dinkum Innovations) got to take home the title of BSI Grand Champion. There couldn't have been a better outcome for the amount of time either company's managers put into the competition. 

CO: What was your one take away from the experience?
TN: One takeaway from this entire experience is that there are so many moving parts and variables that factor into a company's business decisions. The simulation was an extremely simple microcosm to how real businesses operate, and I was astounded still at how complicated the simulation is. I can't even begin to imagine all of the things that need to go right for a company to be successful in the real world, so my appreciation for how well real managers run companies in the real world has increased infinitely. If I had the choice, I would do it all over again. It was a thrill that I never thought I'd experience and it was all thanks to the business capstone course MGMT 449.

Ottum also spoke with Dr. Brent Opall, assistant professor of management and MGMT 449 instructor.  

"As an active and engaged Glo-Bus participant, Trung has consistently made his team, Entertainment 720, and myself as the instructor, very proud," said Dr. Opall. "Entertainment 720 co-won the Sim Super Bowl earlier in the term and since then Trung has passionately competed individually in the BSI. I’m impressed with Trung’s commitment, energy and expert knowledge of strategy. He’s going to do well in this competition."

Nguyen graduated in December and accepted a position with Baker Tilly in Minneapolis as an Audit Staff Accountant.