Volume 96, Issue 75
Thursday, February 12, 2003

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Students battle in virtual cosmetic war

By Diana Whellams
Gazette Staff

Computer nerds beware – the cosmetics industry is invading your domain.

L'Oreal Canada has developed "E-strat," an Internet-based competition that tests participants' abilities to manage PRIMA, a simulated cosmetics company.

"The game is fun. You get to compete with people from around the world," said Victoria Novillo, a second-year masters of business administration student at the Richard Ivey School of Business, adding each team's company is pitted against four "virtual" companies.

Teams are provided with an initial situation and must make decisions concerning everything from manufacturing to budgeting to marketing strategies, she added.

"We had some troubles at the beginning, but finished well," said Rodrigo Diaz Varela, Novillo's teammate, concerning last year's challenge.

This year's competition already finds itself in round three. E-strat works in successive rounds; in each round, teams input their decisions and the scenario changes based on them, Varela explained.

"It's a virtual game, but it's a real experience," said Isabel Leger, human resources manager at L'Oreal Canada. During yesterday's promotional event at The Wave, Leger told Western students about the unique chance for them to manage their own portfolios.

"In the end, the company that wins is the company with the highest stock value," she said. Successful teams in each country present their ideas to the L'Oreal headquarters in Paris and can win further prizes, including digital camcorders and Web cams, Leger explained.

"It's more than a game – it's business," Leger said, quoting the competition's motto, adding winners are often hired by L'Oreal.

"I really like the uncertainty of it," said Melodie Eng, a first-year honours business administration student at Ivey, who is also participating in "E-strat," adding there is an element of luck to the game that adds to the excitement.

Another first-year HBA student, Saheel Shah, said the game was fun to play. "You're making business decisions for all aspects of the company. You get to apply what you've learned," he said.

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