Youth in the Boardroom

By Julia Casey, Center for Economic Development Entrepreneurship Specialist

 Participants in the Alaska Business Week program gather for a group photo. PC: Alaska Business Week.

Participants in the Alaska Business Week program gather for a group photo. PC: Alaska Business Week.

Alaska Business Week is putting high school students from across Alaska in the Boardroom.  Last week, I was invited to be a judge/shareholder as the teens presented the financial results of their companies to their “board”.  This presentation was the culmination of a weeklong simulation of running a smartwatch company. During the simulation, which fit two years of corporate decision making into the weeklong program, they made choices about production, financial, sales, marketing, and more. Each decision they made had outcomes that affected their bottom line, public perception, and employee satisfaction. They also had to come up with a new product in the wearable technology industry to diversify their offerings.

How freaking cool is that?

#StartupLife: Alaska Business Week is corporate-focused and did not spend time on lean startup methodologies, a focus area for CED. That said, these high schoolers now understand financial statements, strategic planning and implementation, team dynamics, and most importantly that they belong in decision-making roles. They also learned to stand-up in front of fifteen board members and defend their choices.

I was shaking in my boots for them, but they were poised and well-spoken.

Their professionalism was a real testament to the kind of leaders these students are and the kind of program Alaska Business Week creates. Congratulations to all of the Alaska Business Week participants and organizers!  It was lit (or some other youth lingo. ABW participants, please advise).