A great accomplishment

SJU alumnus wins Best-Strategy Invitational Grand Champion Award

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July 26, 2012

By Michael Hemmesch '97

Saint John's University alumnus Jackson Burns' ultimate career goal is to do high level strategic planning and analysis for a company. Because of his success this past year, he can certainly add an impressive international accomplishment to his resume. 

Burns, a 2012 SJU graduate in management, recently received a Best-Strategy Invitational (BSI) Grand Champion Award for his work in a business simulation competition. 

BSI is a global competition administered by GLO-BUS over a two-week period each May, August and December. Competitors are student/teams who qualified for the invitational after finishing first place in a GLO-BUS simulation exercise conducted at their school, college or university. 

Burns competed in the qualifying simulation in a CSB/SJU strategic management capstone class taught by Rick Saucier, CSB/SJU associate professor of global business leadership. The GLO-BUS simulation software tracked his progress, along with that of thousands of students, including MBA students, worldwide who participated in the simulation. 

Burns advanced to the championship round in May 2012 and won the Grand Champion Award. 

He described how the simulation works: "The premise of the simulation is that you are the CEO in charge of managing a camera company. As CEO, you must make decisions about a wide variety of factors, ranging from decisions on marketing and pricing, to the types of physical components in the cameras themselves. All in all, there are over 100 decision entries that need to be made every day, so it is quite a bit of work." 

Competitors receive annual business results including company earnings, profitability, brand image ratings, credit ratings and their overall competitive position as compared with other competitors. They can be recognized for exceeding the board of directors' goals, company image and social responsibility initiatives. 

The complexities of the simulation demand strategic decision making, Burns said. "Based on your decisions and those of your competitors, the simulation calculates sales and profit for each round. The reason it is challenging is that your opponents' decisions impact the effectiveness of your own. So for example, if no one spends any money on advertising, you could get a significant edge by spending $5 million a year. But if everyone else is spending significant amounts, you might need to spend $50 million to get the same result. 

"So a large part of the simulation is trying to anticipate what your competitors will be doing and making your moves accordingly.  Sometimes it pays off to make bold changes, other times it is better to wait a round and react to what other people are doing." 

Burns is from Minnetonka, Minn. He completed a spring semester abroad in Fremantle, Australia, prior to graduating from SJU last May, and currently he is applying for business jobs in Australia on a one-year work visa. He's also involved with a few online start-up companies. He's hopeful that having this award will show potential employers that he has a natural aptitude for strategic decision making. 

More information about this business simulation competition can be found on the GLO-BUS Website.