URI senior takes top national spot in prestigious Capsim Challenge

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Accounting major places third overall in worldwide competition

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 12, 2009 – Sean Finneran smiled as he shared the new name he earned during his final semester at the University of Rhode Island.

The Champ.

Finneran, a senior accounting major from North Kingstown, earned the moniker from classmates after his performance in the Capsim Challenge, a business simulation game developed by Capsim Management Simulations in which individuals or teams develop management strategies.

In April, Finneran competed against 942 teams from around the globe and was one of six finalists. In the finals – which consisted of eight rounds completed over a three-day stretch – Finneran finished third in the world, and was the highest finisher from the United States, beating an entry from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School for top national honors.

In addition to Finneran and the Wharton entry, the finalists included two teams from India, one from Hong Kong and the world champion team from the Curtin Institute of Technology in Australia. It was Curtin’s second world title in four years.

Finneran got involved in the Capsim Challenge through a class with URI professor Robert Comerford. After performing well in the class setting, Finneran decided to enter the worldwide challenge as an individual through the Capsim Web site. For the competition, he set up shop in the 24-hour room at the URI Library.

“I was nervous for the first few rounds, and for good reason,” Finneran said. “You were playing against the best other five teams in the world. You should be nervous. You have to be nervous. You’re not human if you are not nervous.”

In the days leading up to the contest, Comerford spent time with Finneran developing and tweaking the strategy Finneran employed. The individual attention made a strong impression on the student.

At 28 years old, Finneran has been taking college courses for more than 10 years. He started at the Community College of Rhode Island, transferred to Rhode Island College and returned to CCRI before coming to URI.

“Once I got to URI, it was my chance to finish school somewhere and kind of have a home,” Finneran said.

The entire time he has been in college, Finneran has also worked as a kitchen supervisor at Gregg’s Restaurant and Pub in North Kingstown.

“It has all been part of the human experience,” Finneran said. “You grow and evolve and you kind of find your way in society. That’s what I was doing for a while.”

Finneran has found his way at URI, and soon he will be able to add another new name for himself.

The Graduate.

“It’s really special for me because I have been in school for 10 years,” Finneran said. “There was a time I did not think I was going to graduate from college.”