Jones School simulation exercise mirrors the real world

For two days last month, 60 Jones School MBA students found themselves in the fictitious South American country of Latinia. The year was 2006, and Latinia was in turmoil; the government’s plan to nationalize the energy industry was unpopular.

Sixteen teams playing the roles of political parties, disgruntled villagers, the oil workers’ union, nongovernmental organizations and national and private oil and gas companies had to develop objectives and the strategies and alliances to achieve them.

This scenario was part of the fifth annual Jones School International Energy Simulation at McNair Hall, sponsored by Chevron. The simulation concept was developed by former Royal Dutch Shell executive Donal O’Neill, who served in more than a dozen countries for Shell and was concerned that not enough attention was given to risks that could derail a project. For last year’s exercise, Rice President David Leebron dropped in for almost an hour to take on the role of the United Nations secretary general dealing with a crisis in a fictitious country that resembled Myanmar.

Bill Arnold, professor in the practice of energy management and a former Shell executive, oversaw the exercise together with O’Neill, his former colleague. Arnold said the ability to see issues from the perspective of various stakeholders is key, especially in industries where time and financial concerns are important.

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— Jeff Falk, Rice News