Alaska Business Week is hosted by the Northern Leadership Center and provides hands-on learning for high school students to explore their leadership skills and future career choices. The simulated business environment immerses students in the challenges of running a business. Competing with other teams, students also discover their own leadership talents and strengths.
Dedicated business executives works directly with students throughout the week to advise and coach the teams in their pursuit of a winning strategy. Participants also receive in-depth briefings from a long roster of entrepreneurs and business leaders covering topics such as leadership, corporate ethics, marketing, and finances.
The following is a first-hand perspective of SOM student Julia Moore, who helped organize the event:
Despite the rain and clouds hovering over us during the week, the 2013 Alaska Business Week class shone. During the week, the 53 students were divided amongst seven company advisors who guided them through eight quarters (two years!) of a simulated business management, broken down into 14 company meetings. Each company advisor had a different strategy and different insights and, much like the students, all came from different backgrounds and places.
The business simulation, wasn’t the only judgment factoring in the final decision of the best company, nor was it the only point of interaction between the students and adults in the business world. Nine guests came to speak about their personal experiences entering the workplace, the major points that they have learned in their life, and what they look for in employees and coworkers. The main topics of the speeches varied from Spirit of Alaska FCU CEO Mike Lombardino’s speech about security and the plethora of risks that await adults once they enter the world of credit cards, checks, and online banking to UAF School of Management’s Liz Ross’s speech, on chaos and the opportunities it provides for leaders. One thing all of the speakers set out to accomplish was to engage the audience—which they all did in a number of ways, such as Liz Ross throwing candy at the crowd after asking if they like chaos.
The students also showed their talents and creativity with the variety of challenges presented to them, for example, in the “Hunk of Junk” competition the students raced to get items collected from the Fairbanks transfer site one at a time in order to create something marketable. The students’ passion really showed on Thursday night’s talent show, featuring singing, dancing, guitar and piano playing, and slam poetry. It’s clear that although the students were here to learn about business, they have many more talents that will add more diversity to the future of the business world.