Corporate competitions always got me excited and pumped up. Getting a chance to apply theoretical concepts to real-life corporate problems and learning how the real-life functions, intrigued me the most.
By dissecting the challenges that go into implementing solutions, I wanted to understand how other people think differently about the same issue and how I can use this and apply to future actions. This also gave me a chance to work closely with our faculty members which opened up new insights for me outside the classroom.
The strategy that I used was very simple. It looked something like this:
- Carry out a solid primary survey and get an upfront and holistic understanding of the situation;
- Conduct a thorough competitive benchmarking and find out what are the best practices being followed in the industry;
- Brainstorm within the team to bring out innovative solutions keeping in mind the execution;
- Test your solution with a sample population and carefully analyze their feedback;
- Keep a financial budget in mind and work the final solution around it; and
- Most importantly, make simple and visually appealing slides.
The faculty of my college has been my biggest strength through these competitions. They have always been there to guide me through the solutions at any time of the day. They have been extremely critical about the solutions but at the same time, shown us the direction to wade through our problems. SPJIMR, as an institute, has always believed in collaborative learning and this gave me the courage to think out-of-the-box and bring in something radically new.
I believe my team has been the biggest reason behind my wins. One should be absolutely aware of one’s weaknesses and try to build a team around it. Having a good relationship with the team members is extremely essential and helps to bring a positive vibe. I personally do not prefer randomness in my team.
Also, it is absolutely fine if all team members are from the same specialization, unlike popular opinion which advocates against this. Having somebody creative also helps to add brownie points. Lastly, do not change teams frequently as it does very little to help settle frayed nerves and brings a lot of self-doubts.
I have always given competitions higher priority than college work. This is the real deal which teaches you the hard truth and opens up your mind. All companies bring such interesting problems to the table that it is all one cannot think about.
Personally, I would not advise participating in all competitions as one should choose wisely and give their everything to the selected few. Going for all does not add any value and a string of losses punctures the morale a lot.
Definitely, AIWMI Credit Research Challenge is my most special victory. I have always dreamt to be the national winners of a competition and I finally achieved this in March 2018. Trust me, the feeling is surreal and the moment our team name was announced, I couldn’t control my tears. After all, if you are participating in any competition, then you should always have the aspiration to be the last man standing in the race holding the coveted trophy.
These competitions have changed me to a great extent and that too, for good. Being over excited at any instinctive thought to being calmer, grounded and a patient listener. Any communication gap within the team is the first step to a sure shot failure. Winning these competitions has also increased my self-confidence tremendously. Also, it has increased my appetite to work harder and come up with smarter solutions.
According to me, a few sleepless nights just before the submission date will not amount to anything big. You might become the campus winner but then they will surely chuck you out in the next round. One has to learn to become the horse that can run in the long race instead of making short sprints.
Don’t run away from primary surveys as they will give you the most important insights and a lot of direction. Don’t come up with too many solutions as companies do not like it. Stick to one core solution and have the entire team believe that this is the best idea in the world and how could the company be so ignorant to not implement it till now!
Warning: Do not simply stick to academics. Participate as much as you can and keep pushing your limits. All these experiences will also help you in your placement process and there you will be able to speak in a logical manner rather than just displaying theoretical concepts.
Lastly, all these competitions now have a lot of glamour, hefty cash prizes and PPI opportunities which should definitely incentivize you to pull out your thinking caps and start solving real-life corporate problems. All the best, guys!