I am currently taking Professor Kathleen Fitzgerald’s Integrated Strategic Management Course. It’s been a bit unconventional – rather than turning in thought papers or problem solutions, I’ve been spending the past few weeks glued to the “Gleacher Game” portal, where along with my team, I’ve been creating products to sell to other regions.
Each team is allocated a region and has to maximize profits by creating various medical products, buying and selling these with other regions, building factories, and devising a healthy distribution strategy. What this ultimately requires are skills from many of the classes we’ve already taken: microeconomics, operations, competitive strategy, financial accounting, managerial accounting, corporate finance, negotiations, marketing, governance, and managerial decision making.
Professor Fitzgerald created the game as a response to Executive MBA student requests for a capstone course. The process was kicked off in 2013 and it was finally launched in 2017. Fitzgerald said, “It’s been a team effort – Rob Gertner, who was Deputy Dean at the time, championed the initiative and we solicited a lot of advice from faculty and students as we continued to develop the software and class over the years.”
So far, feedback has been really positive, though Fitzgerald does caveat, “This course is not for everyone.” Those who have enjoyed it most, she says, “Don’t mind (maybe even like!) trying to dig themselves out of a hole, are tech-friendly enough to put in the time to learn how the simulation works, are eager to understand how to apply what they have learned throughout the program, enjoy building strong management teams, and are comfortable designing strategies that are flexible enough to accommodate the changing environment as the industry grows and matures.”
The biggest piece of feedback has involved the importance of building strong teams and managing conflictful as well as difficult conversations.
Asked what she sees as the most valuable takeaway from the course, Fitzgerald said, “I think that the biggest learning is the understanding that most business decisions are cross-functional in nature and that we need to approach these decisions from different perspectives and consider the trade-offs involved in choosing one option over another.”
I certainly agree. As the team’s CMO, I have benefited a lot from the input of my teammates. We often joke that our debates are similar to those that happen in the real world. I want more advertising; the CFO wants to cut down on spending!
It’s been a really unique and interesting experience and would definitely recommend this class for students who are up for a challenge.