Advisor Support

Getting Started for Advisors

The following information was put together to assist Advisors with some of the issues they may face if they are participating in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition for the first time.  In addition to the material on this page, please see the Advisor Tool Kit.

Why should I be the advisor for a team?

FOR YOU, the faculty advisor, the rewards of being and an advisor are many and include:

  • Seeing and feeling the enthusiasm of your students in this experiential learning environment. 
  • Being personally stimulated by the competition.
  • Recognition by your peers and department if your team brings home a trophy.
  • Appreciation of your Dean for involving alumni as mentors and supporters.
  • Pride in your school.
  • Possible credit for one class section.
  • An opportunity to reward your best students with a unique learning experience.
What is my role as advisor to the team?

Some advisors are more hands-on than others.  The role of the faculty advisor in the competition is more like that of a coach since the team members are applying what they have learned and should be responsible for their own interactive relationships and decisions.   There is little benefit to students if their advisor does the work for them.  On the other hand, it is helpful if the advisor can provide guidance on what goes into a good business plan, and from time to time critique student decisions and their written documents.   Some advisors require that their students provide informal “management reports” to them personally at the end of each simulated year in addition to the Strategic Business Plan and the Annual Report documents required by the competition.  These informal management reports require students to report on progress toward their strategic plan goals and to identify areas where improvement is needed.  It provides a wonderful opportunity to ask those “embarrassing” questions that force students to think more deeply and concretely about how to run a company.  Many advisors get their team members together during the winter holiday season or several weeks before the competition begins to study the manual together and/or practice with making decisions.   If you would like to try to do this, contact the Competition Administrator for assistance.

How do I get my university to send a team?

There are many strategies for getting approval from your university to field one or more teams for the competition.  There are some costs that will have to be dealt with — probably the greatest obstacle — and many universities are facing funding reductions.   Here are some strategies that have worked for some schools.


Some schools have a specific course for this competition. For most schools, the competition is a general elective such as a section of “Advanced Seminar in Management” or a section of the capstone course; others list it under an existing “Independent Study” number or experimental course number. At other schools, the honor and the unique opportunity suffice to motivate the non-credit extracurricular endeavor, often by members of a business club.  If the competition becomes an alternative course for the captstone course, you can minimize costs through using a select group of students that you already have in one of your capstone courses.  That way, the university does not have to pay for an instructor for an additional course.  Advisors occasionally receive a stipend to compensate them for their extra effort.   First year advisors have been known to volunteer their time until they develop some history which can be  used to grow school participation.


If you are a faculty advisor to a student organization like the Society for the Advancement of Management or the Financial Management Association, see if you can get the students in your club to sponsor the event or take it on as a project.  If you start early enough, your students can have fundraisers around the holidays to raise funds to assist with travel.  If student groups are raising money, administrators are more likely to find “matching” funds.


Find a corporate sponsor that will help underwrite some of the registration or travel costs associated with the competition. Many universities have special funds for instructionally related activities that can assist with these costs.  Typically there is some paperwork to be filled out but this can be particularly helpful because it creates visibility for the activity and can be used to demonstrate university commitment to corporate sponsors.

Use the support materials such as ICBSC PowerPoints and the ICBSC Brochure to generate interest among other faculty, your administration, students, and potential corporate sponsors.

Selecting the team

The minimum number a team may have is three students.  Normally a team has between four and six students on it.  Undergraduate and MBA students may not be on the same team.  Each team must have an advisor.  However, this advisor may be the same for each of the school’s teams.

Students may be recruited in many ways:

  • Print and distribute flyers to Fall classes and to clubs.(see the tool kit on this website)
  • Hand-pick outstanding students recommended by fellow faculty.
  • Hand-pick a team President/CEO and let him or her recruit “the team.
  • Post notices on bulletin boards, in club newsletters, and with student councils, MBA associations, and business fraternities. 
  • A team may be comprised of a group of students from a capstone course where the competition becomes the course requirement for the group.
  • One team member may have been a member of the previous year’s team.

These are just some of the ways in which schools have gone about creating a team.  Some universities participating in the competition create a unique course number and students are given elective course credit.

Each campus may enter an undergraduate team and/or a graduate team – or more than one of each.  Undergraduate teams and graduate teams compete separately.  Alumni teams, also welcome, may compete with other alumni teams or with graduate teams depending upon the number of teams participating.

We encourage you to recruit both an undergraduate and a graduate team. Top students, both academically and those with work experience and recognized leadership potential, almost invariably blend together as the most aggressive and successful teams.  We also recommend that your teams have students from the different majors.  Students will be expected to do sales forecasting and production planning and prepare pro forma financial statements using sales forecasting and production planning worksheets.   The ability to create and use Excel spreadsheets is particularly valuable.


Each team assumes the roles of the top executives responsible for  management of a manufacturing company competing directly against 4-5 other firms in its World.  The Worlds created for this competition are analogous to real-world industries; there are no other competitors in the industries than the teams in the Worlds to which each team is assigned.  Each team is responsible for key strategic and operational decisions in marketing, finance, and operations as it competes against the other companies in its World.   At the beginning of the competition, students are asked to file a “Corporate Chapter” on which they indicate their names and the management titles they have assigned to themselves — e.g. CEO, V.P. Marketing, etc.  Eight quarters of historical data are provided as the starting position wherein all teams are identical; then, 20 sets of quarterly decisions are submitted for operations over a simulated period of five years. Each management team is responsible for a strategic business plan, an annual report, and one formal oral presentation to judges (who are senior business executives) sitting as the firm’s Board of Directors. Team members typically learn first-hand how a group effort can result in synergy and enthusiasm. Participants frequently say the experience is the most rewarding of their educational career.

FOR THE STUDENTS, the benefits include:
  1. Hands-on experience of actually “running” a corporation.
  2. Bringing together functional academic concepts resulting in an integrated, applied management experience.
  3. The taste of battle with, at times, stirring success, or, at times, stunning failure–at least in the perspective of the moment.
  4. Feeling the synergy of the team experience.
  5. “The single most rewarding experience in my entire college career.”  (See some of the student testimonials on this website)