Prathosh Gautham, an MBA student at SP Jain Institute of Management Studies in Andheri, would always avoid filling up customer survey forms, when asked to. However, when he participated in Ground Zero, a business strategy competition organised by Future Group earlier this year, and had to get these forms filled out by others as part of a ‘market research’ activity, he realised the importance of the seemingly mundane exercise. “Standing on the other side, you realise how difficult it is to get people to fill up these forms,” he said.
Business strategy or ‘case study’ competitions such as Ground Zero, that require students to solve real-world business problems and come up with creative ideas for the industry, are all the rage at B-schools in the city during this time of the year. The participants crunch numbers, survey the market and use their imagination to impress CEOs with their business acumen. Lucrative prizes and a chance to work with some of the most recognised names in the industry await winners.
It was the first time that Future Group, which is known for its retail chains such as Big Bazaar and Central, had organised Ground Zero, which saw around 520 teams from 15 B-schools across the country participating in it. Auto manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra has been holding a similar competition, known as War Room, since 2007. This year, over 2,000 teams from various management colleges in the country and abroad slugged it out in War Room. A fast moving consumer goods company organised an event called ‘CEO Challenge’ and a financial services firm held a similar programme. Godrej, which runs a range of businesses holds ‘Live Out Ur Dream (LOUD)’.
For students, these competitions offer an opportunity to move from the classroom to the boardroom, and work on business problems beyond their textbooks. For example, as part of ‘CEO Challenge’, Abhijeet Patil, a student from National Institute of Industrial Engineering in Powai, and his teammates were asked to develop a plan for launching a new product. “We had to select the market, target the right customers and prepare an advertisement strategy. We faced questions from the company’s executives for each stage,” he said.
When Future Group asked students to come up with ways to attract the youth to E zone, its technology outlet chain, the students suggested ideas as varied as drone delivery, holographic displays and fancy wearable gadgets. “As former engineering students, technology appeals to us,” said Prithvi Salian, a participant from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies.
Through these competitions, the companies get to pick some of the brightest business minds of the country. Impressed by their creative ideas, Future Group invited a few participating teams to work with its executives to improve services at its retail stores. The winners of War Room and LOUD get an opportunity to intern at Mahindra and Mahindra and Godrej, respectively.
“[War Room] provides an opportunity for Mahindra leaders to understand and appreciate the challenges of budding managers. The secondary objective is to look at the way the youth look at business issues and explore to extent possible how the two worlds could converge which essentially is a source for creativity and innovation,” said Prince August, Vice President, Group Human Capital Development, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
From the classroom to the boardroom
Live Out Ur Dream (LOUD)
Organised by: Godrej Industries
The competition: Applicants are required to share their dreams, along with details of why they have selected this dream and what it would take for them to live it out.
Prizes: A chance to live out your unfulfilled dream and pre-placement offers
We believe that if someone is truly passionate about something, then they will potentially bring that passion to their work.” — Sumit Mitra, head (group human resources and corporate services), Godrej Industries
Organised by: Future Group
The competition: The participants are given virtual money to invest in right the right team and win rewards while the teams used it as their capital. Students were given several dimensions from different concepts to work on.
Prizes: Rs3 lakh, a project with the company, pre-placement internships (PPI) and PPO
“With Ground Zero, we are trying to stimulate a balance between creativity and control in the next generation of business leaders.” - Kishore Biyani, Founder and Group CEO, Future Group
Organised by: Mahindra and Mahindra Limited
The Competition: Students form 4-member teams to solve cases and generate realistic solutions for business broblems in three months of planning and execution.
Prizes: Rs5 lakh, a holiday trip, PPI, a trip to an international racing competition
“The primary objective is to provide insight to budding managers across top B-Schools in the world of Mahindra business.” - Prince August, Vice President, Group Human Capital Development, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
“Godrej LOUD provided me with a huge stage and a different kind of audience. I had to present my personal dream in a corporate setting.”
“War Room introduced me to the rural market. Real learning happens when you try the textbook ideas in the outside world.”
“I believe in learning by doing. Although we are yet to learn market analysis, Ground Zero taught us much of it.”