I have two main interests: Technology and Management. Therefore, when I heard about the Procter & Gamble IT Business Challenge 2017 (short: ITBC), I was immediately interested in participating.
No sooner said than done, I registered at the official event website – and became a participant in a four-stage assessment process. The first step was composed of a CV-screening and an online quiz. After passing this stage, I had to solve a virtual case challenge within one week. This challenge consisted of a typical Project Management situation to be solved with quantitative and qualitative skills. After concluding the challenge successfully, the third and last step before Madrid was waiting for me: an assessment day at the Procter & Gamble headquarter near Frankfurt. The day started with the P&G Global Reasoning test followed by several interviews.
One week after the interviews, I got the message that I was selected together with 23 other students (chosen from several thousand participants) from Western, Central & Eastern Europe, Turkey, Egypt, and India to go to Madrid for the finals of the ITBC. They were announced to be a unique and fun way to gain real-world experience by solving real-life case studies and getting a glimpse of how business, innovation, and technology come together at P&G to create competitive advantage.
Indeed, during the four days in Madrid, we worked together in teams of six people solving four real-life businesses cases. My team members came from all over the world, which made the team work an especially great international experience: Ecem Karam from Istanbul, Rossella Mauri from Milano, Sara Rat from Astana, Mohammed Metawaa from Cairo and, Gustaw Zyngiel from Warsaw. In our “Team Stella” we got to know each other very quickly while working on highly demanding cases under time pressure: In the morning we got an introduction to the case and then had about 2-3 hours to solve the case and present our solutions to a jury that would tackle our solutions. At the end of every case, team and case contents were discussed in a group coaching session. Last but not least, we had the possibility to meet the top management of P&G, to see interesting projects of the company – and to enjoy cultural events and fun surprises in the evenings.
The key factor for success in this competition was definitely my team. The competition was not so much about the skills of a single person than about the team dynamics and interactions and the ability to combine the different skills for the best in one’s team. I was very lucky with my team, as from the very beginning on, we somehow interacted as if we knew each other for ages – and in fact, we had met only the day before. The mutual feelings of trust in our team enabled us to divide the work efficiently and effectively so that everybody had its own responsibilities and accountabilities. I believe that is why we were able to succeed in such challenging environment and finally won the competition.
Even though I already have some experience in teamwork through business games at HEC Paris or through the work in my startups, this challenge was particularly helpful for me to better understand and develop my leadership skills. We always had a coach in our room who observed us while we worked on the case and afterward, he discussed with us in individual and group coaching sessions how it worked and how we could improve. These sessions were maybe the most valuable part of the competition and helped us a lot to improve day by day at how we interacted as individuals in our team.
Finally, after four full days of competition, the board assessed our case results as the best and made us proud winners of the ITBC 2017. Obviously, winning the competition was great, but the best part was the interaction with the outstanding participants and the fantastic organization team of the ITBC (I never saw such a well-organized competition). Thank you to all those phenomenal people. The learning progress at this competition was huge and will help me a lot in my future career. I can warmly encourage everybody to participate at the ITBC and in case competitions in general, as they allow you to learn a lot about specific topics and methodologies, but above all about yourself.