VirBELA: An Insider's Perspective

October 15. 2013
by Maria Babizki

An email blast went out alerting Rady students of yet another wonderful opportunity that can enhance their academic lives and provide a fun learning experience. What made this email spark an automatic interest for me was the mix of simulation, competition, international networking, and an amazing grand prize. So what is this simulation that has caught my eye? To most of my friends, I just call Virbela “Business Sims”.

Virbela offers a chance to interact with other MBA students all over the world in a way that is both fun and stimulating. The simulation takes place in an all virtual world in which your avatar, dressed in savvy business wear, can walk around multiple rooms designed to encourage effective teamwork. Besides the complexity of the actual simulation that includes operating a car manufacturer with 5 separate car lines, while simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on CO2 emissions, the biggest challenge is coordinating an international team.

In previous simulation competitions I participated in, I got to choose my team. For this brand new experience, not only was I assigned a team, but none of my teammates are even in the same time zone. With participants ranging from as far as Singapore to right here in San Diego, a big challenge for all the teams is finding a good time to meet. When I am awake, some of my teammates are asleep, and when they are awake, I am at work or class.

So far in the completion my team has encountered several challenges including technical issues that almost made our team of 4 a team of 3 and the simple problem of figuring out how to translate Pacific Standard Time to GMT to ECT. However, once we did come together, we found that despite some cultural differences and differences in our backgrounds, showing respect to one another and listening to the input of the teammates have proven to be a solid footing on which to start.

There are three more simulation meetings with some possible surprises and as my team faces each new week, I hope we find a way to communicate even better and make good decisions faster in order to stay on top and claim the prize. I cannot wait to share what the whole experience has taught me as it has already been a great learning experience, and also tons of fun.