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Sussex students triumph in national business challenge

* 3 March 2003 *

Sussex students triumph in national business challenge

A team of Sussex students have triumphed in a national business competition. The group of five from the University of Sussex won the grand final of the annual Universities Business Challenge, held on 28 February at the headquarters of IBM in London.

The six teams in the final - from Imperial College, UMIST and Regent's Business School as well as the Universities of Bristol, Lancaster and Sussex - were given a business scenario and competed to finish the day with the highest share price and the greatest profits.

The Sussex victory was the culmination of a challenge that began last October, when the team had to complete a number of email-based case studies, reflecting simulated company strategies through typical trading periods. More than 100 undergraduate teams from universities across the UK competed to achieve maximum profit, acquire new business and enhance customer satisfaction.

To be successful, the students needed to take into account not only the financial performance of the company, but also its responsibilities to its various stakeholders including suppliers, customers and employees.

"The Challenge gives a sense of working to budgets and schedules," says team leader Alex Rankin, who is studying business management alongside engineering. "It illustrates that often a company has to react to things that are out of its control such as inflation, recession and unemployment."

Having won the first stage of the competition, the Sussex team then went on to victory in one of six regional semi-finals last month, before their ultimate success in London.

So what have they gained from the experience, apart from a prize of £1,000? "It has given us the chance to apply our business acumen to a 'real' application," says team member Stephen Readman. "It has certainly given the students a view of business in a way that is not possible in lectures," agrees their delighted tutor, Richard Verrall.

The Universities Business Challenge is supported by Scottish Courage, Guinness, BAE SYSTEMS, the Royal Navy, Vodaphone and IBM. "More Sussex students should try and get this experience because it is organised by good, experienced companies," urges group member Essel Hagan. "The encounter also sharpens your business skills and gives you an added edge."

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