Winning a graduate business competition in Canada was an unexpected triumph for business students Anna Maclean and Helen Hancock.
Anna, Helen and fellow students Mark Wright and Regev Bar didn’t know each other very well before they were selected to compete in the 2017 International Graduate Competition. They were an engineered team brought together by RMIT lecturers who hoped their individual skills would form an unbeatable team.
“We were kind of like the Spice Girls - we were a manufactured team and we were brought together for our complementary skills,” Anna, an Executive MBA graduate, explained.
“Because we didn’t know each other, we had to get up to speed to be able to trust each other to be a high performing team and be a cohesive, successful unit.”
The International Graduate Competition sees teams of students from universities around the globe striving to work through four business cases in just 48 hours. In the high-pressure contest students must analyse each case and prepare a written report as well as an oral presentation.
The RMIT team spent three months preparing for the competition by working with cases from previous years and learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I think the pre-work that we had done to build our team relationship was one of the key things that helped us cross the line to win,” Anna said.
“Because we were able to rely on each other and we agreed that we weren’t all going to be perfect during the 48 hours, it made it a safe environment.”
Teammate and fellow Executive MBA student, Helen Hancock said the competition was physically and emotionally exhausting, but one she would highly recommend to others.
“It was one of the most emotionally exhilarating and draining times of my life,” she said.
“I had Eureka moments where I finally felt that I hit my stride and moments of utter despair where I felt that I had no idea how I was going to contribute to my team.
“It was stressful and we had some breakdowns but because we were comfortable with each other we were able to pick each other back up or take control of situations before they got out of hand.
“I’d recommend it to others because win or lose, you're never going to have an experience like this again. You'll know that you've tested your mettle and achieved something great.”
“In previous years, the finalists in the competition were all outstanding and very different – some teams we observed were data-based and skilled at conveying a lot of content concisely and persuasively; others showcased a star presenter who shone in the spotlight.
“We learnt a great deal from observing each of these experienced competitors in action. In particular we realised there are many varied ways to be excellent and that each future RMIT team would need to find its own ‘essence’.”
“To represent RMIT, we aimed to create a true blended team, a team of equals, gender balanced, highly empathetic, and that proved to be a winning formula” he said.
Next year will be RMIT’s fourth consecutive year of participation in the IGC.
Story: Kate Jones