Last year, I entered and, as part of an international team, won the inaugural Accenture Strategy Global Case Challenge. If you’re thinking of signing up for the competition, here are a few things to think about.
Just do it
First things first. I would say that if you’re thinking of applying, just go for it. You won’t regret it.
Preparation is key
If you’re lucky enough to be accepted onto the competition, get planning early. Sort out your team. Do your research on the NGO and its work. It will stand you in good stead as you progress.
It’s not just about ideas
Strategy is about having good ideas. I knew that. But through the competition I realized that that’s just the start. It’s not enough to have a good idea, you need to prove it’s robust enough to stand up to scrutiny. You’re the one that has to ascertain what the risk factors are and develop the solutions that can overcome them.
Be prepared to feel
The fact that this challenge wasn’t a hypothetical business solution really appealed to me. Having it framed in terms of a humanitarian cause – in this case improving maternal and childhood health – made it far more meaningful to myself and my team, and made people far more forthright in putting across their perspectives. When working on the initial stages from my school in Leipzig, one of our team members was from Cameroon – her experience of poverty was completely different to mine. It really opened my eyes to the world.
It’s the real deal
This isn’t a made up issue that you’re dealing with. It’s a real problem that needs a real solution. But you’re given the exposure to people to really make it work. Not just the client but high-end involvement from Accenture Strategy people too. You get the benefit of their experience to carry your idea through towards a practical solution.
Collaboration is key
If your idea is good enough to pass the initial stages, you’re in for a treat. For us it involved being flown to London to take part in the third stage challenge. Our original Leipzig team was split up and we were placed in international teams with a winner from every other participant country – Italy, Spain, Brazil and Japan. From here we had to work together to get a brand new idea off the ground and make it work.
It lasts longer than you think
I applied for the competition around this time last year and I’m still feeling the benefits. In practical terms, because my team’s idea won, we’re still in contact with Save the Children who want to take our idea forward. More than that though, I genuinely feel that the experience of applied strategy and teambuilding will be highly beneficial in years to come.