Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Something I overlooked...

from the Waukesha Freeman --

Mary Catanese/Special to The Freeman (From left) Tony Beer, general manager of the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Milwaukee, and Catholic Memorial High School students Jacob Tom, Sam Browning and Ryan Zingsheim go over their plan before final scores are given at the Junior Achievement Metro Milwaukee Business Challenge at Briggs & Stratton in Wauwatosa on Feb. 14.The Catholic Memorial team competed with area schools.

Down to business
High school students compete as virtual business owners as part of Junior Achievement event
Freeman Staff

WAUWATOSA – To win at the Junior Achievement (JA) Business Challenge, high school students must keep a watchful eye on what market conditions are, research the competition and develop a feel for supply and demand. And they have roughly five hours to do all this.

The competition for those in the metropolitan Milwaukee region drew 32 teams to the Briggs and Stratton Corporation building Thursday, from schools in Waukesha, Brookfield, Oconomowoc, Milwaukee and New Berlin, to name a few.

Using JA Titan, a computer software program that simulates running a business, teams of students compete against each other to see whose company will come out on top. Students are responsible for making decisions on research and development, pricing, production, marketing and capital investments.

The fictional product that serves as the linchpin of their business plans is the Holo-Generator, a device similar to a smartphone that plays holographic music videos.

“This is a unique opportunity for high school students
to be CEOs of a business, making all the decisions,” said Erika Gehrke, JA development coordinator.

Every five minutes, teams can adjust their plans according to what others have done and information that pops up on their computer
screen. “It is crucial to keep tabs on what competitors are doing,” Gehrke said. “There are industry reports that show how the other companies are performing, including what prices they’re setting and what share of the market they have.”

Gehrke said the second round usually has a few wrinkles, such as new taxes or new regulations to contend with.

Business professionals from throughout the community serve as consultants for the teams, offering advice but leaving all decisions entirely up to the students. These participants came from businesses such as Kohl’s, Briggs & Stratton, Caterpillar, UPS, Marriott and Kapco. The first two companies serve as sponsors for the event.

Students don’t know who their consultant is until the day of the competition, Gehrke said.

Business teacher and Future Business Leaders of
America advisor Becky Kitt of Oconomowoc High School said such competitions really bring to life the lessons she teaches.

“There’s a lot of different strategizing,” she said. “Students learn that whatever decision they make now impacts what happens in the next round.”

Teams are given real world problems, such as how to clear inventory out of a warehouse when everyone stops buying during a recession.

“They can come in with a strategy they think will work,” said Gehrke, “but they need to be able to adapt.”

Kitt said that the students are quick to show their versatility.

“They learn to adapt, they pick it up pretty quickly.”

Top performers earn scholarships and other prizes, and they advance to the Wisconsin JA Business Challenge in Sheboygan on April 25.

Other participants from Waukesha County included Catholic Memorial, Brookfield East, Menomonee Falls, Sussex Hamilton and New Berlin Eisenhower high schools.


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