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HBAs help the YMCA to support the community through COVID-19

Jan 14, 2021

Deloitte Innovation Forum winning teams: Team 8 at top, Team two on bottom

The winning teams: Team 8 (top), Team 2 (bottom)

For the 6th annual Deloitte Innovation Forum, Ivey’s HBA1s were challenged to reimagine life beyond COVID-19 and think about ways the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario can serve its community differently throughout the pandemic and after.  

During the three-day event sponsored by Deloitte, which ran January 11-13, the students worked on teams to develop a creative business model and strategy and pitch their ideas to judges.

Two problems, two winning ideas

The student teams were divided into two groups based on their section number so that each group of teams tackled a different problem. One group looked at how the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario could serve its community differently during the pandemic, while the other brainstormed ways the YMCA can create a safe environment for the community post-pandemic.

The winning ideas focused on leveraging technology and creating a safe environment.

One was to create an interactive virtual community hub called Y-Live during the pandemic. The other, called Smart Safety Initiative, involved using innovative app features to give YMCA members access to occupancy tracking and a real-time cleaning schedule so they would be more informed about the safety measures taken by the organization.

Like many organizations, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario has had to adapt to COVID-19 and is looking for new ways to continue to support the community.

“Our commitment to building healthy communities remains unphased during the pandemic and is only further enhanced by the opportunity to gain new insights and perspectives from the students participating in the Deloitte Innovation Forum,” said Elyse Sheare, EMBA ’12, VP of Marketing & Communications, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, and one of the judges for the event.

Real-world problem-solving

The Deloitte Innovation Forum is one of multiple events in the HBAs’ Learning Through Action course. Kyle Maclean, HBA ’12, PhD ’17, an assistant professor of Management Science, and Colin McDougall, MBA ’06, a lecturer in Marketing, were the faculty leads for the event.

Maclean said the students integrate concepts they have learned from their HBA1 courses and use them to formulate actionable plans.

“This is a cornerstone of bringing Ivey from the classroom into a real-life problem,” he said.

McDougall said it’s an opportunity for the students to be creative and learn about the innovation process.

“This unique event encourages students to embrace ambiguity, draw on their creativity, and apply their abilities to a real-world, problem-solving situation for an important, globally recognized organization,” he said.

Learning about the role of the consultant

Katrina Schouten, an Insights and Design Consultant with Doblin, the innovation unit of Deloitte, said the challenge was designed to mirror the work Deloitte consultants do every day.

“Since COVID-19 has started, every day, we are helping our clients understand how to both react to COVID-19 in the present and how to continue adapting in the future,” she told the students during the virtual kick-off event.

Before getting started, Alex Morris, Lead of Innovation Strategy at Deloitte, shared three tips to inspire innovation:

  1. Flip orthodoxies – Question conventional wisdom, norms, habits, and behaviours to reveal new possibilities;
  2. Be user-centred – Focus on creating a solution that’s desirable for users, viable from a business perspective, and feasible from a technology and capability perspective; and,
  3. Think holistically about all the ways you can innovate – Leverage the 10 types of innovation to inspire new ways to grow, enhance, and build on your idea.

Takeaways from HBA students

Taylor Clapham said she enjoyed the opportunity to work with a not-for-profit organization and learn about the business challenges specific to COVID-19.

“This experience taught my group and me that different businesses can hold vastly different measures of success and, as a consultant, you must ensure you are prioritizing those measures,” she said. “I also gained deeper understanding of the struggles and needs of different business models during unprecedented times, such as a pandemic.”

Arjun Saini said participating in the event virtually is an example of how people and organizations have adapted during the pandemic.

"This competition truly demonstrated to me how well we, as students, have been able to adapt to COVID-19's educational impact,” he said. “Inevitably, it has been a challenging time for many of us. Nonetheless, students were able to participate in such a unique experience and derive many learning outcomes from it. We should all be proud of ourselves."

Congratulations to the winning teams

Section 4 – Team 2: Chloe Aiken, Oleksandr Feoktistov, Bailey Newton, Alexandra Radova, Livvy Southerst, Vishal Vijay, and Yenny Yang.  
Section 3 – Team 8: Aradhya Bansal, Emily Chan, Adriana DiNunzio, Zach Fairfield-Bell, Carolyn Levitt, Lauren Mooney, Albi Nani, and Alex Nelson.

Thank you to our judges

Thank you to all of the Ivey alumni and Deloitte representatives who served as preliminary judges, and to the five finalist judges:

  • Mike Ennis, COO, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario;
  • Ridhima Gupta, HBA ’14, Engagement Manager, Monitor Deloitte;
  • Andrew Lockie, EMBA ’05, CEO, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario;
  • Alex Morris, Lead of Innovation Strategy, Deloitte; and,
  • Elyse Sheare, EMBA ’12, VP Marketing & Communications, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario.

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