Thirty-two second-year MBA students from around the world will be selected
to work on virtual teams to run mock car companies and compete for US$50,000 in
prize money in October.
The Business Simulation Competition, announced by the
University of California San Diego Rady School of Management in collaboration
with Rembisz & Associates, will launch VirBELA, a 3-D immersive virtual
world created for business education collaboration.
"We are excited for the VirBELA launch and hope to be able to offer
opportunities for many more students from various locations and universities to
connect via VirBELA in the months following the inaugural competition,"
said Alex Howland, co-founder and program manager of VirBELA.
VirBELA, which won start-up funding from the Graduate Management Admission
Council (GMAC) in an international competition to spur management education
innovation, is being developed to increase international collaboration among business
students and to provide them with opportunities to work on multi-national
"Students will be able to interact within an amazing virtual
environment, which provides all kinds of new ways to break down cultural
barriers, re-imagine collaboration, and provide faculty ways to deliver
coursework and grade results," said Allen Brandt, director of GMAC's
Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund. "VirBELA is precisely the
sort of innovation that GMAC and the MET Fund seek to support in our effort to
move management education forward by giving back."
The Business Simulation involves eight teams of four, competing in a
simulated automobile manufacturing industry.Each team will manage an
automobile company with the objective to build sales, improve profitability and
maximize shareholder value by making quarterly inputs over 16-20 virtual
quarters.Members of each team will be globally distributed and all from
different schools.They will rely on the VirBELA technology to collaborate
and compete, which includes avatars, a VoIP system, a text chat system, and 3D
visuals of company assets.For example, teams will be able to see their
inventory for each of their product lines.
"VirBELA provides an opportunity for students to learn about the
benefits and challenges of leading distributed multinational teams in a low
risk, fun atmosphere.By participating, students will be provided with
just-in-time learning, have their performance observed and gain valuable
insights with personal coaching," said Robert Sullivan, dean of the Rady
School of Management at UC San Diego.
While the competition will challenge students' business knowledge,
instruction will focus more on team processes rather than "hard
skills."It will be expected that participants enter the competition
with knowledge regarding strategy, reading a balance sheet, the basics of
supply chain management, etc., but not all competitors will have had prior
experience working on a global team.Each team will be provided with a
professional facilitator who will observe team behavior in real time and lead
various debrief sessions throughout the competition.The facilitator will
work with teams around decision making processes, conflict management, and to
identify some of the benefits and challenges of working on a virtual
The competition has already attracted applicants from some of the world's
most prestigious business schools, including the London Business School, the
Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, INSEAD, the Indian
Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, Nanyang Business School in Singapore, the
Wharton School of Management and IPADE, as well as the Rady School of
VirBELA is funded by a US$1.7 million grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) MET Fund Ideas
to Innovation (i2i) Challenge, which identified 20 ideas to improve management
education and awarded $7.1 million USD in grants to turn the winning ideas into
reality. Howland and VirBELA co-founder Ronald Rembisz are the only double
winners in the i2i Challenge, for the virtual world idea itself and then for
its implementation. The implementation award was made to VirBELA in collaboration
with the Rady School of Management and Rembisz & Associates.
"The technologies and methodologies for virtual learning and
collaboration will continue to evolve and develop.VirBELA will be on the
leading edge of these developments, incorporating them into simulations,
serious games, and interactive learning events and activities.Individual
and team assessment and development will be enhanced as we pioneer and innovate
in the virtual world of VirBELA," said Ron Rembisz, co-founder of VirBELA.
The deadline for applications is Sunday, September 15, 2013. Teams will be
announced on Friday, September 27, 2013.
To find out more about VirBELA and apply for the Global Business Simulation
Challenge, go to virBELA.com