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Management game looks to move overseas

PLANS TO develop an international version of the highly popular Merit competition - in which teams manage a virtual construction firm in competition against other (see box) - are being considered by the ICE and the game's organisers.

The proposal was revealed at the finals of the competition held at Loughborough University where the winners from a field of 134 were the Gibb Energy team from consultant Gibb based at Reading near London.

'The competition has been so successful in the UK, we will be examining at our review meeting in July ways of expanding the game overseas, ' said ICE assistant director of engineering John Bennett.

While a small number of teams from overseas have entered including one this year from St Lucia, participation of teams from outside the UK has been small.

'There is nothing to stop a team from overseas playing, but if they make it to the final they would have to get themselves to Loughborough. We did look at ways of playing the final stages remotely, but we decided that the benefit gained from sitting people together and having them face to face for the last stages was too important. So an international version might mean we would have to centre a game in Australia or Hong Kong where the finals would be held, ' said 2001 final organiser Ron Steel of Balfour Beatty.

A storming performance from start to finish brought victory in the Merit 2001 competition to consultant Gibb in a contest played over two days.

Gibb Energy romped home, ahead of second-placed Kant B Rong (Halliburton Brown & Root), Farnborough Alliance (Taylor Woodrow) in third, Buzz Construction (Birse), Litigation Mitigation (Halliburton Brown & Root), and Donaldson Associates.

For the winning team captain, Rosa Diaz, victory was especially sweet. The Spanish engineer was pipped at the post last year as a member of Halcrow Tunnels team.

And the key to success?

'Every decision was debated - we only came to decisions we were happy with. Each person in the team had a well defined role and we had a consistent strategy, ' said Diaz.

'We sought to win big jobs, opting for lower risk, finishing early by fast-tracking, and keeping a healthy capital base. We prequalified for around 85% of the jobs we went for and paid dividends every other period keeping the shareholders, ' she added.

All teams showed consistent performance, with most confident that they had mastered the parameters to ensure survival and profitability.

Final organiser Mike Fletcher of Loughborough University said the standard of most teams this year was extremely high.

'Measured against their starting position, 86% of teams were trading profitably which shows that all those playing could run a business effectively, ' he said.

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