The IBM Business Challenge runners-up

The IBM Business Challenge runners-up (from left): Jenkins, Laura Hassan (captain), Ben Russell, Cathy Locke

Competition Time!

Competition fever has struck the School of Business and Economics (SoBE) and this year has seen more success than ever for our students who have taken part in a number of national business competitions.  Here's news of 3 national competitions where SoBE students have been flying the flag for Exeter.

IBM Universities Business Challenge

On Friday 7th March a team of students from SoBE, comprising of Laura Hassan (captain), Ed Jenkins, Ben Russell, and Cathy Locke, represented Exeter at the final of the 2008 IBM Universities Business Challenge.   232 teams entered the challenge back in October, and following an online 1st round and a live semi final, it was down to the final ten teams to battle it out at IBM's Bedfont Lake Offices in Feltham for this year's title. 

One of the highlights of the day was an unscheduled visit from Larry Hirst, IBM's Country General Manager for the UK..  Larry talked to all the students about why he believes in the UBC and the benefits that he sees it offers students in terms of employability.  It was a great opportunity for students to hear from a top industry leader and ask some questions of their own.

However, Larry's visit did not divert the student's attention from the real business of the day as they were faced with an interactive simulation that required them to act as management consultant's for a start-up company.  They were tasked with making decisions about the company's strategy for growth, sales & marketing, production and resourcing amongst other things, over a number of trading periods.  The objective – to make the highest cumulative profit for their company.

With a strong and sustained performance throughout the day we were delighted when the team from Exeter finished (a nail-biting!)  runners-up in the competition – beaten only by the team from Anglia Ruskin University.  This is an outstanding achievement and the team went away with a cheque for £500 for 2nd place plus an unforgettable experience and the development of so many employability-related skills that employers value highly.

It should be noted that this is the second year running that Exeter have been the runners-up… next year we’re planning on one better!

Ifs Investor Challenge

The ifs Uni Investor Challenge is a national competition and the latest challenge from the ifs School of Finance.  Students can enter either individually or as teams, and the challenge is designed to give entrants practical investment experience.  Students start the competition with a ‘virtual’ £100,000 to invest and whilst the game is running they have the opportunity to trade (or short) in all common stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange. 

The competition is split in to an Undergraduate league and a postgraduate league, and at the end of the online trading period, the top 20 traders in each league are asked to submit a written report about their trading strategy and decisions.  It is this report that determines the overall winner of the competition – and the recipient of the 1st prize of £9,000 for Undergraduates, and £3,000 for Postgraduates. 

This year there were 352 entrants to the Undergraduate league, and 74 entrants to the Postgraduate league, and we are delighted that at the end of the online trading period Exeter University has 4 competitors in the top 20 of the UG league and 3 competitors in the top 20 of the PG league.  This is a fantastic achievement and all of these ‘teams’ will now be busily writing their reports in the hope of walking away with that winner's prize!   A special mention at this stage must go to Bosuk Kim who finished the PG league in 1st place and so has already won £200 and an additional £150 for the best performance in the month of February.    Bosuk is studying for an MSc in Finance and Management at Exeter and entered the competition because he wanted to apply his finance knowledge from SoBE to the real stock market.  

“Everyday, I checked the financial news and stock market analysis from Bloomberg and Yahoo finance before the stock market opened. During the trading-time, I then checked whether my portfolio was going well or not and I made decision to sell or to buy a stock in the market.  I have really had chance to learn the difference between real and academic knowledge and have built my own investment strategy.” – Bosuk Kim, MSc Finance & Management.

In addition a mention should also go to Raleigh Addington who is a 2nd Year Economics & Politics student at SoBE.  Raleigh was the best performing Undergraduate from SoBE and finished 6th in the UG league.  

Raleigh, Bosuk and the other SoBE top 20 competitors have until early April to complete their reports for the competition.  We wish them the best of luck with this and look forward to hearing how they fare.


EPIC is an international entrepreneurship competition hosted annually by the LSE, bringing together bright, ambitious students from 50+ universities to develop and enhance their entrepreneurial thinking skills. 

Formerly known as the Entrepreneurs’ Open Challenge (EPOCH), the event has been running for three years, attracting well-known entrepreneurial leaders such as Karan Bilimoria, CEO of Cobra Beer and Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, to speak and share their professional experiences with students from across the world.   And this year the EPIC final was launched by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of EasyJet.

Inspired by the Apprentice, the two stage competition tests students on their Sales, Negotiation, Marketing, and Strategy skills in an entrepreneurial context.  This year for the first time a team from SoBE entered the competition.  Hot from their success in the ExeCalibre@SoBE challenge earlier in the year Daniel Cross, Jeannine Maghoo, Harriet Beaumont and Julia Mowbray decided to enter the preliminary stage of the EPIC competition.  The preliminary stage challenged students to develop a marketing campaign for a start-up business and put together their marketing presentation for submission at the end of December.  At that time the presentations from all the competitors were judged and the top 10 teams were invited to the finals of the event at LSE in February.  The Exeter team were delighted to be chosen as one of the top 10 and travelled to London to compete against teams that included UK representatives from Cambridge, Bath, & Birmingham, and  international representatives from Universities in Hungary and Thailand.

The four day final in London was designed to test contestants' abilities and capacity to the limit. With 3 Challenges and magnificent evening events as well as a series of exciting supplemental events such as networking reception, dinners with sponsors (2007 included Orange and Sainsbury Management), London nights out, and talks by industry leaders to share their knowledge in the passionate field of entrepreneurship.   At the end of such a challenging week the Exeter team came away as EPIC 2008 Runners-Up – beaten only by a team from Cambridge University.  This was an incredible result and the entire team can be extremely proud of what they achieved.

“It was an amazing experience.  The contest was challenging but  fun and we really had to develop as a team.  I'd recommend it to anyone."  - Daniel Cross, BA Accounting & Finance.

Date: 16 April 2008

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