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In its 5th year, the Hult Prize Award has quickly become one of the “go-to” business case competitions for scholars around the world. The winning team receives $1 million to implement the strategic in an incubation period that will receive assistance and resources needed to see this project become successful.

L2R - Eddy, Wing, Jenna, Akil and Ben

Wednesday, March 5th (traveling to Sao Paulo)

Leading up to this day has been brutal to say the least! It is coming to the end of the 2nd term and I had to finish everything ahead of time so I can focus on the Hult competition. In total, I’ve completed a take home exam, two research reports and three presentations within a two-week period. Sleeping 4-5 hours a night during these two weeks became a luxury, as I would normally take naps throughout the two weeks to ensure I get enough time to complete by work prior to Sao Paulo.

Up to this point, our presentation for Hult was about 60-70% completed. We agreed as a team that we would complete the presentation and practice our 10-minute pitch on the plane so we would have ample time to relax in Sao Paulo, especially since we would be spending the next 33 hours in close quarters. This was not the case however. When it came to the day we needed to travel, my teammates did not complete the work they had for classes and could not allocate 100% of their time on the Hult competition on the plane. I am not in a position to scrutinize my teammates’ time management, but I was a bit disappointed as participation of the presentation itself was fragmented – especially when we agreed as a team that all work for school would be completed beforehand so that we could work on the plane together.

Knowing my classmates were working on a tight deadline with classwork, I proceeded with polishing and finalizing the PPT so we can discuss as a team on how we can amend the day we arrive in Sao Paulo. In the meantime, I delegated some work to my teammates so that I wouldn’t overwork myself. At this point, it seemed that the role of leadership transitioned from Eddy to me, because Eddy was also working on his classwork.

My personal feeling at this point was why am I sacrificing the quality of schoolwork when everyone else isn’t. We have invested our time to be part of this competition to win and we agreed on an agenda as a team on completing our work, yet noone followed it but me.

Thursday, March 6th (in Sao Paulo)

As opposed to getting a hotel room, our team opted for an apartment through AirBnB.com that saved us money and put us all under one roof, thinking it would make us more efficient when working as a group. Then… my laptop broke! My harddisk did not read properly and my computer simply could not function. I cannot tell you how much our generation relies on electronics these days because I for one could not function properly without a computer. I had to use my tablet, but it didn’t make the cut. So, I had to borrow a computer from a teammate who generally uses his tablet more.

Only a day away from our competition tomorrow, we had to buckle down and practice. We decided in the 10-minute pitch that I would be the main pitch, Wing will come in to pitch our financials and Akil will set the scene. After hours of working our butts off perfecting our slides, we decided to do a rough run of our presentation – and boy was it bad. All of us fumbled and misplaced our facts during our presentation that we decided a one-hour break where we would practice alone in our rooms. When we returned, we had a script ready and tried again. This time around the facts were right and the language we wanted to use was there, but we were reading off the script. We still had a lot of work to do.

By 4PM, we needed to go on Hult’s campus to register our team, and so we did. When we arrived, we saw 29 other teams there, all prepared and there to win. Having a very competitive nature myself, I had no drive to mingle or network, all I wanted to do was go back to the apartment and prepare to beat these other teams. I knew that I had a head start on most of the teams there, but I also knew that maybe the idea we were pitching an idea that was not the best. However, I wanted to win by simplicity and comprehensiveness – ensuring I cover all my bases just show the judges that our team thought about every single factor when comprising our business case.

After the orientation there was a cocktail session. I asked that the team only stays for only 30 minutes of it and then we had go back and practice. We did just that and it was time to get cracking at home. At this point our presentation slides were about 80% finished. I delegated work again and the ones who were going to present tomorrow, were very much engaged and focused. I have to say though; I wished one particular teammate showed more enthusiasm. This teammate took a nap and fell asleep when we were practicing our presentations and gave subpar data when we needed more. This person’s engagement was at zero and almost seemed like this competition meant nothing to him/her. In fact, this proved consistent when I reflect back to the very beginning of our team formation. This person was often busy and disengaged when we discussed our ideas. Even when we were brainstorming as a team, his/her ideas were all preventative and not focused on early detection, which is the objective of this competition.

If only this person worked harder today, I would have had two more hours of sleep instead of just sleeping for 3.5 hours before the day of the pitch.

Regardless, we completed the slides and practiced until 3:30AM.

To be continued…

Read more:

Hult Diary – Part 1 – Applying for the Hult Prize competition

Hult Diary – Part 2 – Leading up to the competition

Hult Diary – Part 3 – Getting ready for the competition

Hult Diary – Part 4 – The competition

About the Author – Ben Wong

 Ben Wong

Ben Wong is a Hinrich Global Trade Leader Scholar on the MBA program at Chinese University of Hong Kong with concentrations on China Business and Marketing. He is a goal-driven and eager B2B marketing and e-commerce professional with five years’ experience in Greater China.