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Linking Young Minds Together
    Volume 2 Issue 50| January 02, 2011 |


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Speeding to Success

Sarah Z H
Photo Courtesy: Faijur Rahman Shoukhin

"To date, it has been one of the richest aspects of my university experience. This experience gave me the opportunity to learn a great deal about global business and the effective communication of ideas in a professional environment. I also developed strong friendships with my team-mates from the university," says Sakib, Department of Finance, and University of Dhaka from the winning team of Battle of Minds (BOM) 2010.

“Battle of Minds 2010 was a momentous occasion and one that has enhanced my analytical and presentation skills. Despite the intense training and long hours (24 hours to prepare for the presentation component of the competition), getting up in front of an auditorium full of best students from leading universities and influential business people and presenting was a fantastic challenge, and one I will never forget. As the first runners up in the competition, it was humbling, but the people I met were the most valuable part of this competition," says Nadim, North South University.

Participants come up with ideas and the best ones win.

“I was a part of BOM and our team became the second runners up. This was a completely amazing experience. It was like we were flying across to success in one of the country's largest competitions in strategy consultation for undergraduate students. Case studies give students invaluable exposure to the corporate world. The cases are about real world problems. The companies that you present to are real companies. The solutions that you propose can even find their way to real life products and services," explains Tausif Jamal of (Institute of Business Administration (IBA).

This year, a large number of undergraduate students from the Faculty of Business, Economics, Social Sciences and Arts and also Environmental Sciences have been invited to participate in a number of national case study competitions whilst also participating in competitions based on campus like Battle of Minds (BOM).

The number of such competitions has grown steadily over the past few years, with competitions being held in countries such as the United States, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Denmark.

Like any international case competition, BOM involves teams consisting of four undergraduate students selected by a panel of judges (Kazi Wahidul Alam, Editor, Bangladesh Monitor; Zaid Amin, Vice President, Corporate Banking, CitiBank N.A; Inam Ahmed, Deputy Editor, The Daily Star and Syed Imtiaz Faruque, Head of HR, British American Tobacco, Bangladesh (BAT,B) for the year 2010) who compete against teams from other premier schools.The Final Round of the competetion had six teams (Institute of Business Administration, Team 1; Institute of Business Adminstration,Team 2; North South University, Khulna University, Department of Finance, University of Dhaka; Department of Marketing, University of Dhaka) working under pressure to solve a real business problem, using simulated business conditions such as strict deadline requirements to analyse, explore and formulate action-oriented solutions. Their recommendations were presented to the judges who evaluated them in terms of theoretical knowledge of a case study and then draw on their experience outside the classroom. By participating in this case competition, students are able to increase their employability skills by gaining communication, presentation, leadership and teamwork experience.

The stages followed in BOM comprised of pre-launches in universities and road shows (one-day-activity in each university). They highlighted strategic challenges and managerial dilemmas faced by global business leaders. Competing teams from different schools work under conditions such as time-critical deadlines and incomplete information, to formulate workable, action-oriented recommendations. The teams in the competition were presented with the business case, "Tourism Industry in Bangladesh", and were given approximately twenty-four hours to research, analyse and develop a set of action plans, make recommendations, and prepare their presentations for December 21, the day of the final round. Each team had twenty minutes to present their case analysis and recommendations from a required written overview. All team members were expected to actively participate in the presentation phase, which is followed by a question and answer period. Judges based their decisions on such criteria as the depth and comprehensiveness of analysis, relevance, originality, persuasiveness and overall presentation.

According to the judges a lot of elements are involved in delivering an idea.

Durbin tours, the team who received the title of Second Runners Up focused primarily on the experience more than anything else. They believed they could supply their customers with exciting outdoor activities like paragliding and sea cruising. Their target market was specified as they had in mind the expectations of young travellers. They put forward an interesting logo that read, Dekhi nijer Deshke. At times it felt more like their presentation was more appropriate for a class and not so much for the investors to take them seriously. But what pulled their position up in the competition is their data analysis, the celebrity appeal (the inclusion of Musa Ibrahim in their campaign), a beautiful initiative entitled to international tourists, Plant a memory campaign which will require every travelling young foreigner to plant at least one tree while their stay in Bangladesh and country specific promotion.

To be creative, one needs to be logical and use proper reasoning.

Team Shankhachil started with a visual presentation, which pleased the audience. They seemed to be a well co-ordinated team who presented the irresistible idea of living in a tree house. They promised to build eco-friendly huts and their communication strategies closely resembled that of other teams. They too brought in cricketer, Tamim Iqbal, giving the audience a hint on celebrities being a common promotional tool among the contestants of the day. In the question-answer round, they faced queries about their use of the term ROI (Return on Investment) and how practical the notion of building a tree house was in the Sundarban region. The team took time to answer all the questions and weren't as convincing as the other teams who secured the first three positions in the competition.

Greenway Ltd, the winners of the evening began their presentation with a highly imagerical description of Bangladesh, calling it "The Best Kept Secret of Asia". Their target market was couples or the honeymooners. They introduced the idea of experiencing the lives of tribal people. Their customers could live the life the tribal way if they wanted to. They would offer the couples with seasonal celebrations like rainy season festival and summer kite festival, spa services and even the chance to get married among tribal abode. According to their preferences the couples can customise their packages to suit the taste of their loved ones. They also planned a special wedding festival in every Leap Year -- a fantastic attempt at preserving the youth of a marriage.

Before the winners were announced, Hafiz G.A Siddiqui, Vice Chancellor, North South University shared a few lines with the audience and expressed his joy to be apart of the event. The venue of the Grand Finale was North South University. Chief Guest for the evening was Mr. Muhammad Zamir, Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commission Bangladesh. According to one of the judges, Kazi Wahidul Alam, "It has been a unique competition and the participants had innovative ideas to share. We judged them on the content, the validity of the facts and figures, their ability to analyse, their knowledge of the market and of course, the overall presentation." However, he also added his disappointments saying, "I mean I'm not exactly dismissing what they have done, because they have done a great job but they could have been more professional. Their presentations could have been more lively and exciting and for some contestants, especially at this stage, their English language proficiency should not be questionable."

The Judges’ Panel for Battle of Minds 2010.

Arun Kaul, MD, BATB opined that the quality of the contestants is progressively improving every year and if not better, these teams are as good as the teams competing in similar competitions in countries like Malaysia, Dubai, Vietnam, Pakistan and South Korea. "The work presented seemed well-researched and their ideas were good too. Maybe due to budgetary constraints it was not possible for the students to make their presentations more gripping, giving it a more professional outlook."

Participants express their ideas.

And to vouch for the success that these youngsters achieved through Battle of Minds, it would perhaps be best to quote Syed Imtiaz Faruque, Head of HR, BATB who believes, "While every new project manager of Battle of Minds have brought in greater innovation and taken it to the next level, the spirit remained unchanged, which is all about BATB contributing to the education sector and talented young individuals in their grooming and preparedness to enter the corporate world. BOM promotes dynamism in how it caters to the needs of today's young talents. Applicants could compete with themselves to win a space in the team, groom with interventions relevant to their personal leadership development stretching to a five-day challenge involving long hours on research and strategising. I am very proud of what the project team and the participants have delivered putting together Battle of Minds 2010 a spectacle to watch."

With the Battle of Minds, we discover innovation, creativity and passion amongst the young people, every year. It is evident that we have quite a big pool of talents surrounding us. However, the challenge lies with us, as to, how we can encourage these young people to make use of their knowledge and skills and channel them in the right direction. This way, not only will these young people be benefited, the country as a whole will also experience a new wave in terms of development in the fields of agriculture, technology, health, businesses, education and much more. Hopefully, this would reduce the brain-drain crisis in Bangladesh. It is time for the young minds to be more aware and work together, to make this country a better place for the future generation.

In the end the best ones stand out.


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