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Practical application: Simulations & The Hult Business Challenge

Applying business theory in realistic scenarios is central to all aspects of the Hult curriculum. Classes are enriched with practical application at every opportunity and skills are put to the test with both virtual and real-world projects.


Simulations are an opportunity for students to put their classroom learning into action before they enter the high-stakes workplace environment. At Hult, we use a variety of simulation types—from simple role plays to complex virtual worlds.

Computer-based simulations

Throughout the year, we leverage complex computer-based simulations to place student teams in the driver’s seat of emerging companies competing against one another in a virtual marketplace. Over several days, teams bring their learning to life by making dozens of critical decisions on marketing, product development, sales, HR management, finance, accounting, and manufacturing, all while coping with shifting economic and political realities of their virtual business world. In the end, students connect the success or failure of their companies back to their own business decisions.

Hult's simulations test the theoretical frameworks we learn in class with practical, hands-on tools to deepen our understanding.They're one of the highlights of my Hult experience.

Joy Meregini    

U.K., MBA Class of 2016, Current student

There is much to be gained from knowing what you actually do in certain situations and learning from your own success or failures. What you say you’d do and what you actually do are often very different.

Rob Anthony

Global Dean of Program and Faculty Development, Hult

How does Hult do it differently?

Many business schools use simulations to illustrate one particular theory at the end of a specific course. Clear, simple, unambiguous learning—but business isn’t like that. That’s why Hult uses multi-day simulations at a program level to teach integrated thinking across marketing, finance, operations, supply chain management, and HR, because in the real world no decision is made in isolation. These immersive simulations are scattered throughout the year and increase in complexity so that students are constantly challenged to grow.

Sample simulation

Here’s a small selection of tasks and decisions students from the class of 2016 faced in one of Hult’s virtual marketplace simulations.

The team

  • Canadian graduate in finance with one year work experience 
  • Indian engineering graduate with no work experience 
  • Brazilian accounting graduate with six months’ work experience at an internship 

The task

You are starting a new company in the international microcomputer business. Your executive team has the next 2 years to get the company off the ground. Your goal is to be the best competitor in the world.

Decision 1 (Marketing)

Analyze the research and choose your market strategy.
  • Will your team focus on smaller high margin segments, large highly competitive segments, or fringe segments outside the mainstream?
  • Will your team chase smaller less costly or larger more expensive markets?
  • Will your team target geographies to minimize distribution costs, or more central locations?
  • Decision 2 (HR)

    Human capital.
  • Will your team compensate higher than the competition to draw top talent, on par with them for an even playing field, or lower than them to streamline costs for investment elsewhere?
  • Will your team provide comprehensive healthcare coverage, basic coverage, or something in the middle for its employees?
  • What does your paid vacation scheme look like, if you have one at all?
  • Will your HR policies vary in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East?
  • Decision 3 (Operations)

    Choose production capacity.
  • Will your team produce larger quantities at a reduced cost per unit at the risk of a surplus, or small quantities to reduce holding costs of unsold units?
  • Will your team produce in-line with demand, or at a lower fixed quantity in the hope of driving increased desire and demand?
  • Will your team stagger production rates in-line with seasonality and costs, or maintain a consistent level?
  • The Hult Business Challenge

    Solve a real company’s current business problem or make your startup idea happen through this intense multi-month capstone project.

    Choose your track, form your team, do your research

    In your first module, you will choose either the corporate track or the entrepreneurial track for your challenge. You’ll then form teams of your own choice based on like-mindedness, common goals, and complementary skill sets. Finally, you’ll attend sessions on strategic planning and partake in a weekend of initial field research before you start developing your solution or startup.

    Corporate track

    Hult works with a different corporation each year to solve a current problem that company is facing. Previous clients have included IBM, Philips, and Unilever. Over the course of the project, teams present their solutions to two “Checkpoint Challengers”—industry experts who assess potential weaknesses in their business plans. Each team is also assigned a coach, generally from the world of consulting, who provides mentorship. Periodically, representatives of the company who set the challenge also provide feedback on the students’ progress. At the end, teams on each Hult campus present their final business plans to a panel of expert judges who choose that campus’ winner.

    Entrepreneurial track

    Students bring their own startup ideas to the table and form teams to make that idea happen. As with the corporate track, Hult supports teams through providing "Checkpoint Challengers" and expert coaches who advise and critique plans. In the end, teams present their business models to a panel of global entrepreneurs, executives, and founders of social enterprises, who choose a winner based on a number of criteria, including level of innovation, quality of analysis, and ambition. Many students leverage this track as the initial phase in setting up a new business, and go on to pursue their startup post graduation.

    By collaborating with Hult students on these projects, we can transfer our wealth of business knowledge and arm students with the skills to develop an innovation-based economy.

    Arjen Radder    

    CEO, Philips
    Middle East and Turkey

    The Hult Business Challenge 2016: Johnson & Johnson

    Systemic heart disease, gestational diabetes, and perinatal depression are widespread health issues globally. They can be predicted and treated before the onset of the disease. But people don’t often seek treatment for a disease they are likely to get, but don’t have yet. In most cases they don’t even know they’re at risk of getting it.

    Johnson & Johnson asked our students: How can we make treatment of these diseases become preemptive rather than reactive? How do we make the move from cure, to prevention?

    The healthcare and biotech industries are some of the biggest and fastest growing in the world. This was a huge opportunity for Hult's Class of 2016 to have a significant social impact in an economically viable way in this exciting new space.

    The Hult Business Challenge was an exciting, hands-on experience, and an invaluable lesson in teamwork.

    Marc Seipp

    Management Consultant, PwC Germany, Class of 2013