Lancaster University trio collect award at international challenge

The Lancaster University team of (from second left) Dan Ashton, Aura Zhao and Yang Du, with Simon Harrison, Enterprise Programme Manager for Lancaster University, after winning the Bronze Award.
The Lancaster University team of (from second left) Dan Ashton, Aura Zhao and Yang Du, with Simon Harrison, Enterprise Programme Manager for Lancaster University, after winning the Bronze Award.

A trio of skilled Lancaster University Management School students showed their business nous to impress judges and earn high recognition at an international competition.

Dan Ashton, Yang Du and Aura Zhao picked up the Bronze Award at the annual International Youth Innovation and Enterprise Skills Challenge in London.

The team were supported to take part in the event by the University Enterprise Team at Work in Progress. They competed against 15 other universities from the UK and China, using the SimVenture Business Simulations software to set up and run a virtual business.

The challenge was to maximise a computer-based company’s value as they were presented with a series of events and tests, with all their decisions having an effect. They had to research a market scenario, decide where to spend money and where to make savings, where to target their products, and to who.

Once they had completed their task, the team made a presentation on their efforts – which was prepared while the 90-minute simulation ran – which they delivered in both English and Chinese.

Despite having far less experience than many of the other teams taking part, they impressed the judges with their efforts and were presented with the Bronze Award. They hope to return in future to do even better.

Dan Ashton, a first-year Business and Management – with a year in industry – student, said: “Compared to the rest of the teams, it was a new experience for us. Being able to get the award was a really good feeling, because we didn’t expect it.

“We want to go back and have another go – if we could do it again, we know we could do it better.”

Yang Du, a second year Finance student, added: “It broadened my knowledge of businesses, how they work and how they are structured – and it looked at all aspects, not just one area. It’s a good chance to plan something and to reflect on what needs to be improved. We’re looking forward to a second chance, and to going back next year.”

The competition helped all three students apply what they have learned through their courses, as well as enabling them to take the experience back with them when they returned to learning.

Aura Zhao, who is in the second year of an Accounting & Finance degree, said: “By running the simulation, it deepened my understanding of the course I have been studying. It can all be related from the company we planned to the university course, and vice-versa. It’s not like an exam paper – you have to apply what you know, but it’s in a real scenario.”

Simon Harrison, Enterprise Programme Manager for Lancaster University, was impressed with how the team performed.

He said: “This is a great example of how challenges and simulations can help students to develop the entrepreneurial capabilities – for example, collaborative problem-solving, strategic thinking, communication skills, commercial awareness – that employers expect from our graduates.

“The team at Work in Progress can support anyone preparing to participate in competitions and other employability-boosting activities.”