Students Confidently Pursuing Opportunities in the Working World

  Katherine Manson
  Monday, June 1, 2015 2:03 PM
  Archives 2014 - 2015

Abilene, TX

graphicMcMurry University produces graduates who feel confident leaving campus to pursue opportunities in the working world. Those students graduating from the University’s school of business, credit much of that confidence to their Senior Capstone class, Strategic Management.

The class is required for all business students and focuses on integrating the core requirements and fundamental topics of marketing, finance, accounting, management, and economics.

Dr. Pat Lapoint, a professor in the school of business, has been teaching the Capstone course for more than 10 years and is an instrumental component of the success of the class.

“I’m not an easy professor; I’m pretty rigorous and demanding,” said Dr. Lapoint. “I set my expectations very high for these young people, and what I’ve generally learned, is that they meet my expectations. By the time they finish this course, they feel confident and know they can handle and master any challenge.”

The course’s final project revolves around the Business Simulation Game, featuring an online experience that the class participates in as teams. They work as senior level management would, in roles like CEO and president, to manage and make decisions for their simulated company. The Business Simulation Game allows the teams to compete against the rest of the class, as well as on a global basis.

“Some of the kids in your class surprise you,” Dr. Lapoint said. “You don’t always think they’re paying as much attention, but they continually prove that they are learning.”

The teams manage their simulated companies while competing against their classmates, as well as against other university students across the world participating in the same online Business Simulation Game. The global competition is called theTop Global 100, and features colleges and universities worldwide ranging from 3,600 to this year’s total participants of 5,500.

“I’m always reminded that these young people have an enormous amount of talent,” Dr. Lapoint said. “They have a different way of approaching things, their talent just bubbles up and it’s wonderful to see.”

The class has been recognized in the past through teams ranking high in the Top Global 100. The Global 100 rankings are calculated on key performance indicators and overall score. The ranked teams represent a select group of students with excellent overall Business Simulation Game performance.

“Several teams from previous Capstone courses placed in the Top Global 100 for several weeks throughout the semester, and in one case, for all 10 ‘game years’. In this year’s current course, one team tied for 94th rank in the simulated year 14,” explained Dr. Lapoint.

Throughout the history of the successful simulation game, approximately three teams have been awarded top honors in the Strategic Management course after being invited to compete in the Business Simulation Invitational. The invitational is a unique two-week intensive competition featuring all first ranked teams from various colleges and universities. In the last six years, one team at McMurry has been ranked 6th nationally within their industry category at the Business Simulations Invitational. These business simulations put students in difficult business situations where they must work as senior leadership would, in order to make the appropriate business decisions. Students leave the course with the ability to approach complex problems and work as a team.

Connor Davis ’14, knows firsthand how Dr. Lapoint’s Strategic Management class prepared him for life following graduation. The business management and finance graduate is currently an Associate Service Consultant at CenterPoint Energy in Houston.

“Dr. Lapoint holds her students to a higher standard,” explained Davis. “The Capstone course taught us how to become overly prepared, and ready for anything that might be thrown at us. We were always expected to act professionally and present ourselves in that manner throughout our class presentations and projects. Dr. Lapoint would hold us to a higher standard than we would sometimes hold ourselves.”

The course is only available for graduating seniors to enroll in as it encompasses strategies and advanced lessons learned from the business school pre-requisite core classes.

“A number of McMurry business graduates have gone on to start their own businesses and take on high-level jobs,” Dr. Lapoint said. “The Capstone class helps develop their critical thinking, and gives them the ability to present and work through complex data in a professional setting.”

The Pathway to Professionalism initiative begins for McMurry students as they enter the business school as freshmen. Each course exposes students to specific professional issues, and expands as they move through each year, ending with their final professional project in the Business Simulation Game in the Capstone course.

“Our business program prepares these students so effectively, and the Capstone class is the cherry on top,” said Dr. Lapoint. “It’s that extra something that gives them the level of confidence to be prepared  in the real world.”

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