- Apr 8, 2015
When Michelle Yick, Erika Tsang, and Matthew Tan entered the Unilever Future Leaders’ League, they expected it to be a regular case competition.
The HBA1 students had already competed in, and won, Unilever’s UniGAME, a national business competition for students across Canada. As the winners, they were awarded the chance to go to London, England to compete in the Unilever Future Leaders’ League.
When they arrived in the UK and met the competitors from 29 other countries, the Ivey students realized the real reward was learning about the other teams and their countries.
“The highlight wasn’t the competition itself,” Tan said. “It was meeting all these students from business schools around the world. It was hearing their stories about what their lives are like and what their take on business is.”
Expectations and reality
Although the Ivey students entered the case competition with the intent of having fun and gaining experience, they ended up surprising themselves. More than 30,000 people from around the world applied for the competition. Yick, Tsang, and Tan exceeded their expectations and placed in the top 10.
The competition itself was a learning experience for the students. Yick noted that it was all very similar to the Ivey cases they worked with. The top three teams at UniGAME presented to Unilever’s entire leadership board, including the CEO of Canada.
“At Ivey, we always have roles in our cases, like a consultant to the CEO of a company,” Yick said. “This was the first time I actually stepped into a real-life case with a real-life CEO. That was a good way to tie what we learn in school to actually what happens in the real world.”
After watching other teams present, the Ivey HBAs noticed there was a big difference in their presentation styles. Cultural differences played a role in how teams presented their message.
“At Ivey, we’re definitely very professional, whereas a lot of teams are more creative,” Tsang said. “Some of them integrated videos, or a skit to showcase their idea, or a dance. It was interesting seeing how to deliver the same message in different ways.”
Getting to know the teams
As the case competition progressed and the teams got to better know each other, the students realized as much as they enjoyed learning about other countries, it was a two-way street. The other teams were interested in Canada, too.
Sharing stories about Canada and learning about their opponents was an experience that changed the three Ivey students’ perspective. Going into Unilever Future Leaders’ League, they had no idea that the international aspect of the competition was going to play such an important role.
“It really opened my eyes to international opportunities,” Tan said. “I’m a complete advocate now for everybody going abroad and doing exchange. We’re kept in this bubble. But there’s so much more across the water. I think all students need to experience this.”