It was a simulation, but the experience felt authentic and “immensely practical” for the three EMU student participants.
So realistic, in fact, that Ashley Hevener, Kaleb Wyse and Joel Kratzer were selected as the top team for their presentation made at the annual convention of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) held Nov. 6-9, 2008, in Columbus, Ohio.
EMU junior business students (l. to r.) Joel Kratzer, Kaleb Wyse and Ashley Hevener were selected as top presenters of a business case simulation at the recent MEDA convention. Photo by Jim Bishop
All three are junior accounting and business administration majors at EMU. Ms. Hevener is from Hutchinson, Kan.; Wyse from Wayland, Iowa; and Kratzer from Kidron, Ohio.
Two EMU teams were among five – three from Goshen (Ind.) College – who worked on the same business scenario and recommended solutions to the problem. The other team of EMU business students in the competition were seniors Sam Buck, Woodburn, Ore.; Matt Gehman, Parkesburg, Pa.; and Ben Moyer, Doylestown, Pa.
The business case focused on a child care facility in Toledo, Ohio, that was struggling to stay afloat fiscally while also wanting to achieve greater visibility in the community, the students explained.
The students were given the problem prior to attending the convention, but weren’t permitted to seek counsel from any EMU business professor.
“Our challenge was to study the business, determine what the obstacles and barriers were and come up with a feasible solution to the day care facility’s dilemma,” Wyse said.
“Being accounting majors, we focused on budget issues and crunched figures,” said Ms. Hevener. “We reworked the program’s budget, adding health coverage and recommending continuing education for staff,” she added.
The students also addressed the issue of “branding” – helping the facility sharpen its image – by creating public relations materials that outlined goals and services.
Each team had about 20 minutes to make its presentation and then entertain questions from the audience. The sessions were open to everyone attending the MEDA convention.
The students believe their presentation received top honors “because the marketing materials we developed made us stand out.”
All three students felt the experience was “invaluable.”
“This exercise involved some presenting techniques that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have learned,” Hevener said.
“Presenting in this venue is different than doing so in a college classroom,” Wyse said. “The observers are already in the work world.”
“I feel like I gained a new sense of differing ways to address a business problem and work at a practical solution,” Wyse added.
Not only that, but each student received $100 for being named the top presenters.
“Competitions like these are extremely valuable by providing students with problems like those they’ll face upon leaving the university,” said Walter W. (Walt) Surratt, assistant professor of business at EMU. “They learn the value of critical thinking and exercise the tools they have learned in the classroom environment. They also learn to present their ideas and defend their positions before people they don’t know, building confidence and self-assurance in remarkable ways,” he added.
MEDA, founded in 1953, has a dual thrust of promoting business-oriented solutions to poverty and encouraging a Christian witness in business. It is a global leader in microfinance, village-level agriculture and investment fund development, improving livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of impoverished people every year.