Elevator pitches, presentations, and communication issues in the workplace are just a handful of the topics Broad College of Business students are covering in BUS 250, a required business communications course for Broad students. Over the last week, the class took a hands-on learning approach by taking on the Whirlpool Corporate Challenge, a real-world simulation to mimic realistic workflows and potential communication hang-ups.

“Last week we demonstrated what poor communication looked like, and this week for the second round we focused on improving communication between departments starting from the factory, moving to the workhouse, deployment, and on to the stores,” said graduate assistant Tyler Duston (MBA Finance ‘17).

The class was divided into three teams, each set up like an assembly line. The winning team—determined by fastest time, inventory, availability, and sticking to their communication plan—would earn no tangible prize (but undeniable bragging rights).

Win or lose, students gained a better understanding of how small communications missteps can lead to a bigger problem. “The simulation helps visualize an entire company and comprehend how many components there are,” said Julia Wixson (BA Marketing ’19). “It makes you remember that you’re part of a team.”

Whirlpool, which emphasized communication as a process in the workplace, is one of five companies to presenting to BUS 250 this semester. “I really appreciate the companies coming in to talk to us,” said Austin Ruppert (BA Business Admin ’18). “It helps me picture myself working at their company.”

The class will also work with four other partner companies: Kimberly-Clark, Deloitte, Stryker, and Auto-Owners Insurance. “We tapped into their areas of expertise,” said Shana Redd, professor of practice. “Our goal is to learn from those that have training and development programs in place within their organizations. Our partner employers give us the gift of continuous improvement in training us as they would train their top-talent employees.”