Deloitte21: Working with Junior Achievement's MESE program in Japan
By Shinako Matsuzaki - September 01, 2010
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the Deloitte21 Fellows from all over the world last May in London. After sharing the wonderful experiences together during the workshop, I felt inspired by other Fellows and empowered to move our Deloitte21 program forward here in Japan.
After careful consideration, our Deloitte21 program project team decided to focus our efforts on assisting the MESE (Management and Economic Simulation Exercise) by Junior Achievement. We believe that the MESE program aligns well with the Deloitte21 mission of assisting underserved youth in developing 21st century skills.
MESE is a computer-simulated program developed by Junior Achievement. In the program, students assume the roles of corporate managers, and make production and marketing decisions for an imaginary product called Eco-Pen. During the simulation, students decide on pricing, amount of production, advertising cost, capital investment, and R&D expense. They analyze industry reports, balance sheets, profit and loss statements and market conditions before making their decisions and submitting them to the facilitator. The most successful teams will be those that best balance supply and demand at the highest level of production and price. The purpose of this program is to develop basic skills needed for social life, such as decision-making, courage to express different opinions from others, and acceptance of cultural diversity.
Over the past few months, we have been working closely with Junior Achievement to develop more effective ways to promote the MESE program to high schools all over Japan. Our objective is to raise awareness of these necessary skills that students will need to succeed in the 21st century economy to both students and their teachers through the promotion of the MESE program.
In order for our team to better understand the MESE process, several weeks ago Ms. Yoriko Kuroki, Director from Junior Achievement, facilitated an MESE simulation for our Deloitte21 team, enabling us to experience the program in action.
Nine employees from different divisions participated in the activity. We were divided into three teams -- each team, or “company” was given a name of a major manufacturer. Our goal was to market a fictitious product called an “Eco-Pen.” By default, the pricing for each Eco-Pen was set at $30. In the first round, each company had to decide on its initial selling price based upon the business information provided, and compete with other companies. The intent of this exercise was to provide the teams with a realistic market situation.
One team dropped the price to increase their sales volume, another raised the price to increase their profit margin. Our team decided not to change the price from the default. We obtained the performance results (Management and Performance Index) calculated by a computer application on the facilitator’s PC with the prices that each company set. Based upon the results, we analyzed the data and made the subsequent decisions hoping to obtain higher performance results. We repeated the process several times which included adjusting the amount of production, advertising cost, capital investment, and R&D expense as well.
The simulation lasted about two hours, and to my surprise, my team won with the highest performance score! It was really interesting to see that one company never recovered from the bottom ranking, even after several rounds.
Even accounting professionals like ourselves, with real-world experience working with clients were very excited participating in the simulation, and each of us found ourselves engaged in heated discussions as the game progressed.
According to Ms. Kuroki, “The key learning from the program for students is that decision-making is often accompanied by the result and the responsibility. In the near future, students will face numerous situations in which they have to make a decision including choosing their future career path.” She also said that if students could make decisions by themselves, they would take the responsibility and could accept the result.
As the next step, we are planning to develop marketing tools, such as brochures and promotional video clips, which will encourage teachers to use the program in their school curriculum. As the program is implemented, we believe that MESE will be more effective if facilitated by Deloitte professionals who have broader business knowledge and experiences. Therefore, we plan to select professionals who are willing to contribute to their alma maters by promoting the program and facilitating it as a touch point. We hope that the schools will benefit from the presence of our professionals and in turn, our professionals will feel the sense of fulfillment from their contribution. By taking this approach, we anticipate that the program will continue and grow. We are really excited to meet high school students through this program!
Shinako Matsuzaki is a Certified Public Accountant and joined Deloitte in the US in 2006 where she performed accounting and auditing functions for major corporate clients. Shinako moved to Tokyo in April 2009 and is currently a Senior Consultant in Enterprise Risk Services as well as a Deloitte 21 Fellow.