My journey to winning ITC Interrobang Season 8
Winning is important, but not all wins are equally satisfying. It's when you know that the task at hand is a challenging one, something that requires you to bring out the best you have and then some more, that you feel like you've truly won something worth winning. It is for these reasons that winning ITC Interrobang Season 8 was a special feeling. It was a feeling of exhilaration coupled with a sense of relief that all the hard work that was put into it eventually paid off. It was also a feeling of appreciation for the quality of the competition, who were brilliant without a doubt. And with all that, I also feel immense gratitude toward ITC Limited for organizing such a terrific competition and lending all the eminence of their name to it, which makes me and my team doubly proud to have won it. On top of the prizes on offer, we gained some invaluable experience that we couldn't have found in too many other places, and that in itself is the greatest reward.
Talking about my journey, forming the team was the first and the easiest step. With the kind of comfort and trust that Sai, Sandeep, Sriram and I share, it was obvious from the start that we are together in this thrilling journey. We named the team “The Weekenders” for a rather superstitious reason, as Sandeep and I had won two other national competitions, with the same team name.
Almost by design, we decided to not have any kind of pre-conceived notions that would cloud our thinking as we approached the case. Our pursuit of reconciling the dichotomy that the case presented led us to a number of destinations. And each one of them offered lessons of their own. Be it Maharashtra Mazdoor Sanghatna (a trade union of Mathari workers operating from Pune), Mapro factory, or Cummins plant, we made it a point to go out on the field to get a first-hand experience of how things happen on ground, and gain as diverse perspectives as possible. Merging these insights with our own critical thinking, we designed our path to address the given problem.
As the submission deadline drew nearer, we latched on to each other’s strengths, and tried to present the best possible solutions that we could come up with. After being chosen as campus winners, we next had to face our formidable opponents from SIBM, Pune. It was a pleasure competing with them as a contest in which your competitors are no pushovers is far more rewarding than winning a contest in which your victory is a foregone conclusion. Looking back, it was a journey filled with fun, hard-work, brainstorming sessions, all-nighters, and some unplanned adventures. None of this would have been possible without the help and support of our college, SCMHRD, which instills in you a culture of winning, unmatched by any other B-School. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude toward all the managers and workers of various factories we interacted with, previous year winners and faculty members for guiding us, and our awesome batch-mates and juniors for standing like rock behind us.
Here are some quick tips for the people who would soon be entering the world of business competitions. These are from my own experiences of having won four different competitions in the past one year. Use them at your own discretion.
- Never lose sight of the problem. Since the stakes are so high, it is very easy to get carried away into tangents that have nothing to do with the actual problem you are striving to solve. You get evaluated on the output, and not just efforts.
- Learn to unlearn. Don’t unnecessarily force the umpteen number of models that you must have studied in your course. Though they are important, focus more on the ground realities that you can gain only by visiting the field and getting insights from people. Remember, devoid of context, nothing means anything.
- Be clear in what you want to convey. Each of your ideas should be explained as coherently as possible. Don’t leave your charts and figures for the evaluators to interpret on their own.
- Talk to people. Reach out to your faculties, seniors, and any other person who can help you.
- Make the most of whatever you get. We did not have the permission to enter the factory when we visited Tata Motors. So, we started interacting with workers near and outside the plant gate. That’s how we got to know about the presence of a trade union office a few kilometers from the place. Though we had to wait for five long hours outside the union office to get a chance to interact with the General Secretary, it turned to be a worthy effort, as we got to understand the side of the union which was integral to the case.
By: Dev Awasthy