University Relations and Communications

College of Business student takes top place in simulated business competition

May 16, 2012


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Tanner Lambert is not the CEO of a $100 million business — but he recently proved he could run a simulated company better than any college student in the country.


Tanner Lambert

Lambert, a 25-year-old student in the Montana State University Billings College of Business, earlier this month won the Capsim Foundation Challenge, an online global competition designed to see which business school students have the prowess to run a multi-million dollar enterprise. Since mid-April more than 1,600 students from around the world have been competing in the challenge.


“I was able to use everything I learned throughout the school year to do well,” said Lambert in a recent interview.


For Lambert, who is majoring in business finance with a minor in marketing and will graduate in 2013, the Capsim Challenge proved to him that he has the work ethic and determination to succeed in the business world.


“Everything about the Challenge’s finals was intense and exciting because everyone competing is the best in the world,” he said. “The most challenging part was having only an hour to break down the market, recognize what the competition was doing, and still make the best decisions I possibly could. I really had to trust my knowledge and skills.”


Lambert said he hopes to use his business skills and talents to leave a mark in the private sector once he leaves college.

“I know what it takes to the do the work and do well,” he said. “Does it mean I will be a CEO? It could be possible.”


Lambert graduated from Columbus High School in 2005 and entered the Merchant Marine Academy. After an injury left him unable to complete the academy, he ventured in to the higher education arena, starting first at Montana State University in Bozeman and then transferring to MSU Billings for his business education.


He said he knew he finally found a college home his first semester in the College of Business.


“I heard some good things about this college and the faculty are really interactive,” he said.  “That first semester I knew I would be a finance major.”


The energetic and focused Lambert earned his way to online-based challenge finals by steady decision-making and an element that is not often in a textbook: instinct.


Students are assigned a fictional company and make decisions on production schedules, new product offerings, marketing, pricing, forecasting and finances are contracted into hourly rounds so there is very little time to analyze the competition and the pressure is intense.


“I was able to gauge what the competition was doing,” he said, adding he could sense when certain market segments were getting saturated with the fictitious product. “You really have to think out of the box.”


By watching moves others made, he kept his company on the move. In the end, his balanced decision-making and resource allocation approach earned him 746 points out of 1,000 on the Balanced Score Card to win the event.


Lambert credits not only his business acumen, but also his foundational understanding of finance and management learned in class at MSU Billings.


“The whole event encompasses everything you learn in school,” he said. “Everything ties together.”


The Capsim Challenge is broken into two groups: Capstone and Foundation. While similar in scope, the Capstone Challenge requires students to run a $100 million business whereas the size of the company in the Foundation Challenge is $40 million. Both competitions require participants to manage the business's product development and finances, including selecting a strategy for their company, redesigning its product lines or creating new ones, as well as figuring out the company's marketing and sales plans.


And just like the “real world,” during the competition, students have investors to answer to, sales goals to meet and competition to monitor.


The Capsim Challenge is also an opportunity for students to compete with other aspiring business leaders from around the world and to prove their own skills as a potential CEO or successful entrepreneur. This year's event included over 1,600 students from several countries including Australia, Taiwan, India, Canada, Poland and Switzerland as well as the United States. Of the competitors, 16 students (and 12 teams) went on to the final rounds, which were held April 27-29. The winners were announced earlier this month.


For more information on the MSU Billings College of Business and its programs, go to or call 657-2812.


PHOTO ABOVE: Tanner Lambert, a student in the MSU Billings College of Business, recently finished first in the nation in an online simulated business competition. Lambert, a 2005 graduate of Columbus High School, will be entering his senior year this fall.