Hundreds of men and women have earned a Master of Business Administration degree through Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Todd Calhoun, Sarah Neff and J.P. Tiengo are—by one metric, at least—the best of them all. The trio is firmly entrenched in the all-time top spot among groups who have competed in the worldwide SmartSims MikesBikes business simulation.
“We knew which levers to pull,” Neff said, as Tiengo added, “It’s important to know a little of everything.”
They knew enough to rocket their MikesBikes company, Spin Doctors, to the No. 1 spot with a shareholder value of $1,663.32, and then to eclipse that with a shareholder value of $1,800.55 in a lightning round that lasted just a few hours.
The team owns the No. 1 and No. 2 slots in the MikesBikes Advanced Hall of Fame, and another Baker MBA group appears in the top five, and while that may not sound impressive, MikesBikes is more than a game. The simulation requires students to make decisions about different aspects of a business, including marketing products and hiring employees. As in real life, these decisions affect the performance of the business. MikesBikes allows students to recognize performance indicators and implement what they have learned in classes since the beginning of their MBA program.
As luck would have it, Calhoun, Neff and Tiengo had worked together since the beginning.
“We just struck up conversations through the awkwardness of the first class,” Calhoun said.
Being alone and meeting new people in a new environment can be tough, but the Spin Doctors had the advantage of being in an already small group. Their cohort consisted of just nine people.
“We were in a study team,” Neff said. “In the second class, you had to pick [group members] and we picked each other.”
By that point, they recognized each other’s individual strengths. Tiengo already had experience working on accounts in international business, Calhoun holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, and Neff enjoys the creativity afforded by marketing.
“I’ve yet to work in a team in business that has worked as well as we did,” Tiengo said.
The closeness created through their MBA program isn’t exclusive to the Spin Doctors, however. All nine members of the cohort grew close.
“The group was so small,” Tiengo said. “We have a Facebook chat where we still talk and say happy birthday.”
While the small class size allowed students to get to know each other well, the group still offered diversity in the academic and professional background of its students. For example, Calhoun and Neff are both first-generation college students. In that context, “Go big or go home” is how Neff explains her decision to get a master’s degree. Tiengo is originally from Brazil and has worked with accounts in Latin America throughout his career.
The bonds created by working closely with peers on the way to graduation had a big impact.
“I couldn’t have done it without you guys,” Tiengo said to Calhoun and Neff. “[I looked to you] for whatever reason… I don’t want to be cliché, but it felt organic—the whole program—from the start.”
Tiengo, Calhoun and Neff were together from start to finish in their MBA program. They learned the ins and outs of how to operate a successful business through each course and it all culminated with two stellar performances in the MikesBikes simulation. While those records may not stand forever, the knowledge the trio gained will influence what they do for the rest of their lives.
Baker University is ranked No. 1 for MBA enrollment in the Kansas City area. Our online courses include students from across the nation.