Students' Testimonials

"Deciding to take this class my last semester despite the workload was one of the best decisions I could have made. Throughout this competition I was able to increase my business knowledge while also applying the concepts and theories I’ve been learning for the past few years, beyond a textbook definition or a simple homework assignment. I learned what it is like to work with a team for an extended amount of time and I gained some insight on executive decisions that need to be made. I can now see how several departments in a company work together to create synergy and achieve a common goal. Beyond that, I have met amazing people who inspire me and pushed me to new limits. I am forever grateful for this whole experience and the growth I’ve experienced makes me excited to apply what I have learned in the real world."

Sabrina Powell 2022 undergraduate competitor

“The competition gave me the resources and knowledge that cannot be learned in a classroom. It showed me the importance of having a solid plan and being able to execute it. Most importantly, I can attribute a big part of my success to specific lessons learned during the competition.”

2022 undergraduate competitor

“I learned more in this class/competition than in all my classes over 4 years”

2021 undergraduate competitor

“ICBSC is the only class I liked coming to and working on.”

2021 undergraduate competitor

“The most beneficial effect that any student aspiring toward an MBA will find in the ICBSC is the comfort that will come in running the day-to-day operations of a business. During the MBA program, I learned a whole lot about separate entities and departments of businesses, but a struggle that always frustrated me was how it all fit into the bigger picture. I would ask myself, “I know about each separate business unit whether it be operations, marketing, or management, but how does it all fit together? And how do department heads work together to make decisions that are in the company’s best interests? The ICBSC went a long way in alleviating that frustration. In the competition, I was able to get a taste of every single unit of a business, and to see the challenges that await executives and department heads… Here I learned that any business decision incorporates each aspect of the business – from marketing and where to set price to increase or decrease demand, to operations where a decision on how many lines would be necessary to run must be made, to finance from which the funds for wither route would be allocated. My work in the ICBSC gave me comfort as to how a decision can come about in business, and how past data and future projections can be utilized to make the decision that is in the best interests of the firm. The ICBSC also was an extremely valuable course for me with regards to teamwork. In turned out that all members of my team had strong personalities, with each member being very outspoken as far as the correct way to allocate funds, whether or not a decision was correct or incorrect, and so on. The experience I gained on this team was that while it can be difficult to make decisions with strong-willed individuals, the ultimate decisions are more sound because a lot of thought, opinion, and discussion goes into each one. I learned to not be as sensitive as my nature makes me, because if somebody challenges my opinion or assertions it tends to be more constructive than destructive. Moving forward in my career, I will most definitely use the team skills I have learned this semester to have more spirited and productive meetings.”

Sam Foxall 2020 MBA Competitor

"ICBSC Project and the simulation taught me to put together all the knowledge I have gained in traditional classes into a real competitive environment."

Art Acuna 2020 MBA competitor

"The lessons learned throughout the ICBSC competition were enormous. The ICBSC allowed me to advance my business decision-making skills in marketing, finance, production, human resources, management, and strategic business planning. I was able to apply concepts learned throughout the MBA program. Stock valuation and production control to name few. I was also able to apply statistical tools and regression analysis methods picked from the information systems course and finance course which helped improve our forecasting capability and helped other teams in class as well. I came to realize that a decision taken in one functional area will have a direct or indirect effect on other functional areas. Therefore, all decisions were taken as a team. Finally, and most importantly, this competition has also allowed me to grow my personal and strategic network and strengthen my teamwork, communication, and leadership skills by paving the way for me to work closely with other CSULB graduate and undergraduate students. Being part of the ICBSC was extremely rewarding and it gave me and the rest of the team an opportunity that our current employer couldn’t offer. While the decisions made were within a simulated environment, the decision-making process and gathering the information required to make those decisions, is a skill that all attendees can transfer to real world situations. The more effort put into this competition, the more knowledge one will get out of it."

Khodr Saleh 2020 MBA competitor

"When you are a business student, you hear the phrase “in the real world” many times over. It is in reference to life after school when everything you have learned will be put to the test. At CSULB the real world was brought to the classroom in the form of the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC). After a selective application process, a group of graduate and undergraduate students from CSULB were split into three teams, each competing in a simulated environment of companies from all over the world. As the CEO of “What A Crock” I had the opportunity to learn concepts outside of the textbook that provided a glimpse into what I would face in the workplace as a C-Suite executive..."

Leah Espinoza 2020 MBA competitor

“I can honestly say it has been one of the greatest things I have done at San Diego State. It provided me with an opportunity to apply the information I learned in my classes.”

Otto Lange 2014 undergraduate competitor

“The competition definitely exposed me to something new and it pushed me beyond what I thought I could accomplish.”

Melissa Nguyen 2014 undergraduate competitor

“My experience with the ICBSC helped me make important decisions more quickly. It required me to identify pertinent information from a large amount irrelevant information. The ICBSC placed me in a situation in which I saw how different divisions of a business fit together and how each has an effect on the others. Most importantly, my participation in the ICBSC gave me in-depth experience with teamwork. I learned more about teamwork and how to recognize good team members than I did from any other project or team sport in which I have participated.”

Jared Fisher 2014 MBA competitor

“Personally, the competition has taught me a lot about the most important aspect of business, which is the ability to be able to work as a team. Businesses nowadays rely heavily on teams in their organizations and the competition gives the participant the most realistic management experience by allowing the participants to work as a group to tackle realistic business problems. The competition served to broaden my horizons as a business student and the experience will definitely stay with me long after I come out to work.”

John Lee 2010 undergraduate competitor

“Most of us will work our way up to management through one functional area (i.e. marketing, finance, etc). Having experienced running a major corporation, making multi-million dollar decisions, and making management-level decisions through the competition, I feel as if I have a competitive advantage over students who have not and a much better holistic view of the complexities involved in running a major organization.”

Loren Kaiser 2010 MBA competitor

“The best aspect of the competition, was working with dedicated peers towards a higher goal than simply obtaining an A grade. We were in it for the win, and to represent our school! We did it as a team, and it is awesome that the relationships we built will remain for years to come. We were given the best opportunity to run our own business, our own way, and brainstorm our own idea! It was a great culminating experience to three years of MBA study! The experience is what I will most take with me, and prepared me well for the real world of business!”

Justin Steger 2010 MBA competitor

“The competition gave me the resources and knowledge that cannot be learned in a classroom. The experience showed me the importance of having a solid plan and being able to execute it. Most importantly, I can attribute a big part of my success in Parker Aerospace’s graduate program to specific lessons learned during the competition.”

Rudholff Bischoff 2010 undergraduate competitor

“The EXPERIENCE that benefits you throughout your college career and beyond!” “A MIND-STRETCHING experience for anyone who wishes to challenge themselves!” “My experience as a participant surely has helped me developed intellectually and emotionally as a college grad and prepared me for the real world upon graduation!”

Qingfang Zheng 2009 undergrad competitor now working in Singapore

“Participating in the ICBSC business competition allowed me to apply all of my two years of MBA course knowledge (i.e. Accounting & Finance, Marketing, and Management). I got the first-hand experience of being a top manager that managed a simulated company in a competitive environment, very similar to the real world business environment.”

Jefery Kusnadi 2009 MBA competitor

“The ICBSC is the answer for college students who are looking for to have a fun networking experience that tests their knowledge in the business field. I learned more about business through this competition than I ever learned in the classroom. Classroom is the principle. ICBSC is the practice.”

Thu-Nguyet (Nicki) Tran 2010 undergraduate competitor

I’m proud to announce that I just lost a competition in my business class. I learned so much more by losing than if it was easy. I think I got back the full value of my MBA in one semester because I’m already applying so much of it to real life. Here’s what I’m already applying in my real world job from the class: 1/ You learn more when things don’t go right the first time. It’s easy to think something works because you’re awesome. But it could really be a combo of luck and your competitors making mistakes. So your competitors are out there really figuring out how to make things work while you chill. And then one day, things click and they crush you because they know how different business levers really work in your industry. (This is basically what happened to us. In the end, everything finally click and moved us from very last to runner up!) So look at what’s working just as hard as what’s not so you don’t get complacent. 2/ The road to success is paved with missteps, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. BUT do everything you can to control the size of the test so the losers hurt less. 3/ Figure out the potential value of an idea to the business before you decide to do it. Figuring out how much an idea will cost and the revenue it can generate can give you directional feedback on what you should be working on. It’s easy to say “of course this will generate value” but that ignores that there may be something else that can generate MORE value. 4/ Establish your strategy, implement your tactics, but be ready to pivot when the market clearly wants something else from you. Sticking to a losing strategy doesn’t help your business. Just responding to competitors also doesn’t work. Remember why you picked your strategy. Figure out the levers that make that strategy work and then pivot as the market tells you how it really needs your strategy to work. 5/ Small changes can lead to big things over time and big changes can lead to fast disaster. Huge thanks to our advisor, Barbara Barcon, and my teammates, Laura Radivoyevitch, Carmen Guzman, PHR, Umair Adam Sharief and Angel Martinez. I think we learned as much from each other as we did from the competition! If you’re at California State University, Long Beach for the EMBA program or any at any other University studying business, I highly recommend taking the International Collegiate Business Strategy Course in the spring and participating in the competition! You get to make strategic decisions, figure out the real impact to finances and respond to competitors for 12 weeks. It changes the way you look at your value to a business. Biggest takeaway: do hard things until they aren’t so hard so they help you do harder things in the future.

Kathy Borkoski 2023 MBA competitor, CSULB

ICBSC has been one of the most challenging and learning environments I have come across in the MBA journey. This competition has tested my knowledge on most of the key concepts that the MBA teach us such as Finance, Marketing, Operations, HR and how everything must be taken into consideration before a business decision is taken. A business cannot be successful if all departments are working in Silos. The competition also brought a learning about time management and ability to take risk. We had to take business decisions regularly which entailed us to engage in insightful discussions among our team which was a major learning point in terms of marrying theory with practice. Towards the end of the competition, we started to understand the business better and started taking calculative risks which actually paid off and made us win. In terms of improvements, there was a time we went stock out in Sereno and a new product was introduced just that quarter. We asked the management about how will the new product be treated in Sereno? Our question was, will the new product start selling as a new product in Sereno because of the stock out or will Sereno act as other areas (selling the old product before selling new)? We were told that Sereno will sell the new product as new product, but when the reports came, we saw Sereno produced new product like other production areas, but sold new product as old, just like other areas. So, we got mislead somehow. My suggestion would be to communicate that the management is not liable to share that information rather than communicating, since it might mislead teams. Overall, it was an exhilarating experience and would love to take it again. Thank you.

Subhraneel Roy 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

ICBSC was an exceptional learning experience. The simulation was very well-designed and provided me with a hands-on understanding of how market forces work in the real world. Through this competition, I was able to develop a deeper understanding of market dynamics, including supply and demand, pricing strategies, and consumer behaviour. I also learned how to make strategic business decisions by analyzing market trends and adjusting my approach accordingly. Overall, I found this business simulation to be highly engaging, informative, and valuable. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to develop their skills in market dynamics or gain a better understanding of how businesses operate in the real world.

Saumya Shreyashy 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

I am thrilled to share my incredible experience participating in and winning the first prize in the 2023 International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC). This competition has been a momentous occasion for me and a transformative personal and professional growth journey. One of the key learnings I gained from this competition was the immense value of teamwork. Collaborating with my talented teammates from diverse backgrounds was an enriching experience. Together, we harnessed our unique skills and perspectives to develop innovative business strategies and overcome complex challenges. The competition highlighted the importance of effective team communication, trust, and cooperation. It taught me the significance of active listening, respecting different opinions, and harnessing collective intelligence to achieve remarkable results. Another vital lesson I learned was the art of stress management and adaptability in challenging situations. Throughout the competition, we faced intense pressure and tight deadlines. However, maintaining composure, staying focused, and effectively managing stress was crucial to making sound decisions and delivering high-quality work. The competition pushed me beyond my comfort zone and taught me to embrace uncertainty and think creatively in demanding circumstances. These skills have undoubtedly equipped me to tackle future challenges with resilience and confidence. Lastly, the journey from the United Kingdom to the United States for the competition was an unforgettable and fun-filled experience. Travelling to a foreign country, immersing myself in a new culture, and interacting with participants globally expanded my horizons. It was fascinating to observe how various global perspectives shaped different business strategies. The cultural exchange and networking opportunities provided valuable insights into the worldwide landscape. Overall, being a member of the 2023 ICBSC has been a tremendous honour. It has allowed me to demonstrate my abilities and provided me with valuable teamwork, stress management, and adaptation skills. The memories made along the way, from the ecstasy of winning to the friendship formed with fellow competitors, will inspire and push me to thrive in my future endeavours. I am glad for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will apply the skills acquired personally and professionally.

Tunyamai Chaiwipassatorn 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

The competition was excellent, engaging, and practical. The case was properly framed to challenge us in all the key areas that we face as business leaders. The entire process was well organized and Nataliya was superb in supporting us through everything. I would definitely recommend to everyone to get involved next year!

Orerhime Iwuagwu 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

Participating in the ICBSC competition was an incredibly rewarding experience that taught me valuable lessons about working in a team, dealing with stress, and formulating effective business strategies. One of the key things I learned during the competition was the importance of communication and collaboration when working as part of a team. Our team was made up of individuals with different strengths and skill sets, and it was only by leveraging these effectively and communicating openly that we were able to develop winning strategies. Another important lesson I learned during the competition was how to handle stress effectively. The intense nature of the competition meant that we often had to work long hours and make tough decisions under pressure, but by staying focused and working together as a team, we were able to overcome these challenges and achieve our goals. Overall, I found the experience to be incredibly rewarding, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much about teamwork, leadership, and business strategy.

Ramandeep Sangar 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

Strategy management in its essence includes all parts of the business including operations, marketing, supply chain and human resources working together. It is a set of coherent decisions that move an organisation towards a common goal. ICBSC competition helped me to learn the essence of strategic management in practice which is much more useful than textbooks. I learned about how a team can achieve more than individuals by creating positive conflicts. I remember having meetings throughout the week, creating new ideas, taking decisions, preparing reports through the night and having arguments with teammates. Reflecting on the journey, I believe that those moments were the ones when we were creating human magic. I also learned to create resilience, manage ups and downs in a business and craft a turnaround which involves not only technical parts but also creating an atmosphere that can unleash unlimited energy of people. I am thankful to my team to help me grow through this competition. The intensive phase was the one I enjoyed the most. Under stress, we had to take several decisions and with the intense competition from other teams, we could not relax even for a moment. That I believe helped me to learn the intensity of a business and yet, how to enjoy what I was doing in the moment. Overall, it was an amazing experience that taught us a lot and helped us grow immensely in our journey to become leaders of the future.

Sumit Kumar 2023 MBA competitor, Cranfield University, UK

My experience throughout this months-long competition could be best summarized by one truth — the more you put in, the more you got out. Pulling every lever of our company, all aligned to a formal strategy that we were not only supposed to clearly define but also continuously do justice to in our quarterly decisions, this simulated management experience tested every piece of knowledge I claimed to have and exposed every area that I ought to improve on as I transition from a graduate business student to a consummate business professional. I'm grateful for the organizers' and judges' tireless and altruistic efforts to facilitate experiential learning for us through this program, and I hope that more business students can graduate with applied, simulated experiences like these to put their education to the grand test.

Faheem Ahmad 2023 MBA competitor, George Washington University

Participating in the ICBSC for two consecutive years was a life-changing experience that allowed me to develop invaluable skills, work with amazing teammates, and learn from experienced judges. In the first year, the intensity of the competition caught me off guard. Developing effective pricing and advertising strategies while navigating the complexities of a simulated market was no small feat. However, my team and I persevered and put in countless hours to develop tailored product models and make data-driven decisions. The second year was even more fulfilling, as I had the privilege of leading my team towards our shared vision. One of the highlights of the competition was seeing our collective efforts pay off during the presentation as we exhibited our team cohesion and knowledge of the simulation. Being able to speak with and learn from experienced judges gave me the confidence to tackle real-world business challenges. I highly recommend ICBSC to anyone willing to challenge themselves, refine their skills, and apply their classroom education to real-world scenarios. Lastly, I extend my gratitude to Dr. Bolinger, Dr. Konicek, Idaho State University College of Business, and Idaho Central Credit Union for making these transformative learning opportunities a priority.

Emma Watt 2023 MBA competitor, Idaho State University

• ICBSC has served as a fantastic learning opportunity for me. The competition has taught me more than any other class I have taken over the course of my MBA. From learning how to master the simulation and become spreadsheet-savvy with our intricate financial model, to navigating disagreements and differences in opinion between team members during intense decision-making meetings, this competition has caused both my qualitative and quantitative skills to improve exponentially over the past four months. • The competition involves making quarterly decisions under tight deadlines. Indecisiveness has always been one of my flaws, and this requirement to make business decisions over short periods of time (whilst simultaneously taking the thoughts and preferences of other members on the team into account) has vastly improved my decision-making skills. • The competition serves as a fantastic opportunity for anyone to improve their communication, negotiation, planning and financial management skills, to name but a few. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and subsequently caused me to develop and enhance a broad array of business and leadership skills. • While much of the focus is on improving skills and preparing students to enter the world of business after graduation, I have earned so much more than an enhanced skillset over the course of this semester. I have made lifelong connections with members of my team, and also got the opportunity to network and connect with inspiring students on other teams who hail from all corners of the globe.

Orla O'Connor 2023 MBA competitor, Idaho State University

As a graduate student, I've learned a lot about the theoretical aspects of business. However, nothing compares to the hands-on experience of being in an executive role and making key decisions for our business. This opportunity truly highlighted the importance of collaboration with all teams and departments, which we wouldn't have had an opportunity to witness. I'm grateful for the chance to have been a part of it. ICBSC was an opportunity for me not just to use what I learned in class, but to build a path for our business using the knowledge we had. It gave us an opportunity to make mistakes and move forward as a collective and not as an individual.

Ritesh Yadav 2023 MBA competitor, Idaho State University

ICBSC was one of the best experiences of my college career. The ability to work in a high-performance team was great. The learning experience was very beneficial. Being the CFO of a company opened up my eyes to how much I didn’t know. Learning how to build budgets and models, that are not only easy for me to understand but for others, was very important to my duties. Learning how to build that model was very much worth my time by itself. Another thing that I learned is how much you needed to know about a company to be able to make good decisions. During the simulation, we got to the point where we knew how much it cost to make a unit to sell compared to units in different areas. I also learned that being a successful company isn’t about who can cut cost the most, it is about who can get the most out of their money spent. I also learned how to talk through hard decisions with other people who have different perspectives. Decision-making is a skill that I will take from this experience that will continue to help me in my life.

Nick Mingo 2023 MBA competitor, Idaho State University