Last week, dressed smartly in suits and heels, it was finally our turn to attend the highly anticipated annual Management Conference with boys from the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. This event is for Year 12 students, and lasts one and a half days. The purpose? To expand our knowledge of the slick corporate world of business and finance management.
Pizza? Yes, please
The main task of the conference was a five-quarter business game. We were split into teams of six boys and six girls, and each team was guided by a business mentor. Each team had to compete to create the most profitable pizza restaurant. The game was designed to help us develop effective teamwork and communication skills. It tested our ability to devise meaningful financial strategies in order to make a profit. Time-management skills were also required as we had to make quick decisions at the start of each quarter.
The power of teamwork
At first, we were all very quiet as the girls and the boys had come from different schools and weren’t very familiar with each other.
However, as soon as the tasks and decision forms began to come our way, we became extremely competitive, and happily began discussing and negotiating business strategies and plans.
The decisions that we had to make ranged from silent bidding prices for the sites at the beginning to the wages of the pizza chefs, and from market research to options for expanding and renovating our businesses.
As none of us had done anything even remotely close to running a business before, this was a steep learning curve. Despite the difficulties, in the end, our team was delighted to find out that we had won the business game by producing a profit margin of £185,000 (HK$1.7 million)!
Walking away with new knowledge
We also attended lectures delivered by inspirational speakers. This included well-known public figures such as entrepreneur Lord Bilimoria, the founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, and Dame Fiona Woolf, who served as Lord Mayor of London from 2013-2014.
They encouraged us to build our careers around what we are passionate about, and to be confident about achieving our dreams.
Overall, everyone learned many new skills, such as listening, communicating and carrying out tasks as a team under a lot of pressure. Despite the intense day and a half (and wearing uncomfortable clothes and shoes), we were able to expand our knowledge of the world of business, cultivate teamwork, and make new friends.