Time to claim a place in next £15,000 contest

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A combination of teamwork, sound decision-making and a strong appreciation of issues facing a medium-sized business competing in the European Union and the United States has won a team from the water company Severn Trent the right to represent Bri tain in an international management competition next month.

The Severn Trent team won its place in the contest, which will see it pitting its skills against the best in Europe, by winning the first Independent/NatWest Management Challenge shortly before Christmas.

At an all-day event at the Kensington Hilton Hotel in London, it fended off the challenge of United Distillers and NPI to win £10,000 of the total £15,000 prize money.

If you think you or your colleagues have the skills displayed by these companies, you could be heading for this cash prize - and a place in next year's international final.

Sponsored, as last year, by National Westminster Bank, the challenge has been developed by Bill Robertson of Edit 515. It is designed to replicate the operation of a medium-sized consumer goods company selling into mainland Europe and the United States over a 15-month period. But people from all sizes of companies as well as individuals banded together or groups of school children can take part.

Management games have been used for many years by business schools and other training and development organisations as a risk-free way of introducing new employees to the way a company works, or enabling more experienced ones to try out fresh ideas or strategies.

But, unlike many, the version being used for the Independent/NatWest management Challenge is highly interactive, with the teams of up to six members competing not just against a computer, but also against each other for a share of the market and of the labour force.

The criterion for success will be share performance. But to achieve that, participants - who will make a series of decisions stretching out over several months and culminating in the final in November - will have to demonstrate a range of specific abilities besides the general skills shown by last year's winners.

They will need to be able to deal with production, design, marketing, exchange rates and human resources issues.

If you are interested in taking part, please telephone 0181-671 7733 or fax 0181-671 4552. The closing date for entries is 28 April, but those returning their entry forms by 17 March will be eligible for a discount on the entry fee.