MBA student finishes third in international business competition

Prachi Bharadwaj smiles and holds her two young daughters on her lap
Prachi Bharadwaj, pictured with her two young daughters, finds the part-time evening MBA program fits well with her career and home life.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 9, 2021) — When MBA student Prachi Bharadwaj’s team in a business simulation competition won at the university level, they were invited to an international competition. And when the other teammates weren’t able to compete, Bharadwaj decided to go it alone.

Her efforts paid off with a third-place finish in the Glo-Bus International Invitation Only Simulation Challenge, where teams compete by making real-life business strategies for a fictional company.

Work for the global business competition began in Professor Paul Miesing’s Strategic Management class in the evening MBA program in the School of Business.

“The course had a heavy focus on hands-on learning, using the Glo-bus Online Strategy Simulation Tool,” Bharadwaj explained. “Within the simulation, our class was broken into eight teams, with each member assigned as co-managers of a company that operated in an industry that dealt with two products: a camera and a drone. As a team, we made strategic decisions touching every aspect of company operations, from supply chain and pricing to compensation and R&D investments.”

The simulation is based on actual industry and financial benchmarks, and each week the online simulation tool measured the teams’ performances and assigned points for each round, which represented one year.

Miesing said the simulation model gives students real experience in business strategy, making decisions in the context of a competitive market while managing the relationships between various aspects of their virtual companies.

Miesing, who has been at the University since 1979 and plans to retire at the end of this academic year, has had student teams work with both simulation programs and local businesses from the start. “Considering how we’ve moved our courses online during the pandemic, the simulation lends itself nicely to virtual learning,” he said. “I can create break-out rooms for the teams, which also Zoom on their own in between sessions.”

Bharadwaj said her team would meet on Zoom once or twice a week to review the previous round’s results and prepare for the next. Bharadwaj was in charge of decisions on product specifications and cost, marketing and advertising costs, and buying or selling shares in their simulated company.

When they were invited to the international challenge in December, Bharadwaj’s three teammates all had other commitments and were unavailable for the intensive two-week competition against universities around the world.

“I was keen to participate as I felt competing against other teams may give me exposure to different perspectives and an opportunity to learn something new,” Bharadwaj said, adding she was initially unsure about competing because she had an infant to care for. “Encouraged by Professor Miesing and supported by my family, I decided to give it a shot and compete alone.”

The competition, she said, was difficult and intense, especially in the first rounds. “Then I got the hang of the strategy employed by other teams and quickly adapted to move upwards, finally finishing third,” she said. “I was a bit disappointed that I could not win, but happy to have represented my university and finished in the top three.”

Miesing thought the third-place finish, especially for a team of one, was pretty impressive and has asked Bharadwaj to speak to his Strategic Management class this semester.

“She was a terrific student to have and blew by the rest of the class on all evaluations — including her peers’ evaluations of her,” he said. “I was surprised when she told me she’d do it herself, so that says a lot about her.”

The Part-Time Evening MBA Program offers professionals the ability to earn a graduate degree while continuing to work in their fields. Taking courses two nights a week, most students complete the degree in three years.

Bharadwaj joined the program in 2019 to learn more about management, and said the flexibility of the program allowed her to continue her studies both while working and while caring for her family after her second daughter was born in July.

Originally from the central Indian town of Datia, Bharadwaj and her husband live in Niskayuna with their children. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering with a specialization in information technology and has worked in a variety of IT roles.

“So far, I have had a terrific learning experience at UAlbany and am extremely thankful to my professors who have been so helpful, especially through my pregnancy,” she said, adding that she expects to complete her MBA by early 2022.