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The University of Southampton

Engineering students join forces to reach Universities Business Challenge Grand Final

Published: 27 May 2019
winners showing certificates
Krzysztof Zaborski and Megan Hickling

University of Southampton students Megan Hickling and Krzysztof Zaborski excelled in a series of testing commercial simulations to reach the UK Grand Final of the Universities Business Challenge.

The third year MEng Ship Science students demonstrated a business acumen surpassing rivals in traditional business degrees to be selected for the final at IBM’s South Bank hub in London.

The Universities Business Challenge Worldwide is the world’s longest running simulation-based competition designed to develop undergraduate and postgraduate students’ employability and enterprise skills. The contest is held over three rounds and involves teams developing sales strategies across trading periods in theoretical business scenarios.

“I felt the competition would be a great way to exercise my interest in economics and challenge myself in an area outside of my comfort zone,” Megan explains. “I couldn’t believe it when it was announced that we had won our semi-final as we felt like the underdogs with just two team members and no business background. It feels like an amazing achievement to have finished as one of the top teams out of the initial 300 that entered the competition.”

The challenge’s first round was set over six weeks and tasked teams with producing the maximum gross profit from an online simulation for a company selling solar panel kits to remote communities in Africa and South America. Megan and Krzysztof finished second in their heat to qualify for a live semi-final which simulated the growth of a newly formed coffee shop. The pair employed an ‘engineering approach’ as they set pricing, staff numbers and a business brand, impressing the judges to book their place in the Grand Final.

“It has been a fun challenge and great experience,” Megan says. “It has been a great test of how to deal with stressful situations with tight deadlines, building new skills that I hope can broaden my horizon. I would ideally like to incorporate both engineering and business in my future career as a well-integrated relationship between the two is key to success within the engineering industry.”

This spring’s London final involved simulated trading periods for an action camera brand. The event included inspirational talks from IBM staff and was eventually won by a student team from the University of Glasgow.

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