En franҫais ou en anglais? That was the question most commonly heard by my fellow Segal Case Club members William Jackson, Connor Gillan, Anantdeep Singh and I at the 2015 HEC Sustainability Challenge in Montréal. What started with a long flight and a couple team members on standby, turned into an extremely cold fun, educational experience I’m very thankful to have been a part of.
We received the case for this competition a week prior to presenting and dove right in. The case was based around a natural gas provider, Gaz Métro, in Montreal and their current problems with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the demand for natural gas over diesel in the transportation sector. We brainstormed, crunched numbers, and iterated our plan several times before the due date. Luckily, our team has diverse skills, an A+ attitude, and we all worked very well together. We were able to delegate the work evenly and collaborate when needed. Go team!
We developed a concrete business plan for the company we were consulting for with an equal emphasis on revenue generation and sustainability. Needless to say, it was a week of long and stressful days and nights, but we were very proud of our finished product when we submitted it a mere ten minutes before it was due.
T- 1 Day
The team met at YVR’s Gate 49 at 7:30am to debrief and confirm which portions of our previously prepared presentation we will be responsible for, so we would have at least something to do and practice during the 5 hour flight. At the same time, we became aware that two of our members did not previously check in to our packed flight from Vancouver to Montreal and were both placed on standby. A mild panic escalated amongst the group while we waited for their seats to be assigned and we continued to strategize for the case competition.
Luckily, both managed to secure seats and we boarded and settled in for the flight with our laptops, notes, and minimal leg room where we practiced our part of the presentation and solidified our speaking points.
Upon arrival in Montreal, the first order of business was to re-energize with some food before we ran through our presentation as many times as we could before sleep overtook us.
The Competition (La Compétition) #DEFIHEC2015
Competition day began at the ungodly hour of 6am EST (3am PST). We sleepwalked/transited over to HEC Montréal to register and hook up the caffeine IV. The order of presentations were randomly selected, and we were up first. We wiped the sleep from our eyes and put on your consultant faces and dug right in.
The presentation was 20 minutes long with 15 minutes of Q&A. We presented our plan confidently and responded to all questions asked. The judges were fair and from various backgrounds, two sustainability consultants, a manager for a large truck fleet, and a sustainable transformation manager from Deloitte.
During lunchtime, we found out that there would be another required presentation and analysis of the case given for the chosen finalists. Unfortunately, our names were not called to proceed to the finals. At that point, we revisited our strategy and focused our efforts toward winning the team spirit competition. With William as our lead, we posted, tweeted, and Instagrammed the afternoon away in hopes of taking home the prize!
Meanwhile, HEC did a fantastic job of keeping us engaged. They organized a speed networking event in the afternoon, which was a fantastic way of meeting members of the other teams. There were teams from across Canada as well as from Copenhagen, Denmark! We discussed our previous work experience, current programs, and our post-MBA aspirations.
Next, the finalists presented their revised businesses cases to the judges and all the teams were invited to watch. The three teams also presented solid business plans backed by thorough financial data – the competition was stiff! The judges retreated to deliberate who the winning team would be while we were invited to a panel discussion with members from Gaz Métro, SNC Lavalin, as well as a number of other seasoned sustainability experts.
After a fantastic day of networking and learning, it was finally time to announce the winners. They started with the team spirit winners, and we were proud to walk on stage and accept our gifts when we heard them call out “Segal Graduate School of Business”. Big congratulations to Ryerson, UQAM, and HEC Montréal for taking home first, second, and third and a huge thanks to SFU Beedie for allowing us the opportunity to represent the MBA programs at the 2015 HEC Sustainability Challenge.
Mangez toutes les choses!
Laura Hayes is a part-time Management of Technology MBA student at the Beedie School of Business. She is the Vice President of Communications for Beedie’s Graduate Business Student Association and a member of the Segal Case Club. As a marketing and technology enthusiast, she currently works full-time as a marketer for Canada’s leading IT services company. Outside of school and work, she enjoys running, yoga, and travelling. Connect with Laura on LinkedIn.