University Business Challenge: Vindex. UEA, 2015 by Toyosi Oni
Left to Right: Emily Foley, Becca Clark, Harriet Keogh, Toyosi Oni and Jaballah Matar
The University Business Challenge is the world’s leading competition for employability and enterprise where students compete against peers from all universities within the UK. I had heard about the University Business Challenge through an email circulated to NBS students and I was immediately excited to take part in it. A group was formed with myself and four other NBS students; Becca Clark, Emily Foley, Harriet Keogh and Jaballah Matar. Our team name was ‘Vindex’, which means ‘Triumph’ in Latin. We were a mix of first and second year students who were very excited to gain practical insight into the business world.
The first part of the competition was a simulation. We were put in a group of 8 other teams from various universities in the United Kingdom. We were the key decision makers of a virtual wearable technology company and each week before a set time, we had to submit business decisions on what products we were going to produce and in what quantity. We also had to make financial decisions on how much we wanted to spend on other business associated costs such as marketing, research and development, inventory and storage and intelligence costs (if we wanted to know the decisions other teams in our group made).
We met for an hour each week of the first round of the competition to discuss what actions we wanted to make that week. Each week, we were faced with new issues that affected our business. As with a real life business setting, often this ‘issues’ were beyond our control and so we were required to be very creative and adaptable with our business decisions. At the end of the first round, our team emerged with the highest profit of the other teams in our group and we also had one of the highest profits across the competition. With this, we cemented our place in the semi-finals of the University Business Challenge.
Our semi-final was hosted at the University of Bristol. We set off a day early from Norwich and on the way, we came up with a team strategy that emphasised cooperation and quick thinking due to the time pressures of the competition. After a long trip to Bristol, we settled in our hotel rooms and soon after had an appropriate dinner fit for the events of the next day. The next morning, we set off early to the Wills Memorial Hall at the University of Bristol where we were assigned tables according to our universities. The competition began shortly after.
The first part of the competition focused on creativity. We were told to turn a herd of cows into at least three business ventures. Our team came up with; a Cow flash mob where cows would be led into busy commercial areas and would dance to music, a cow ice-cream shop where customers would have the opportunity to milk the cows for the ice-cream by themselves and eco-cow where the cow’s droppings would be used as a sustainable form of energy. Our proposed ventures were among the shortlisted three shown to the rest of the teams as outstanding.
The second part of the competition focused on decision-making. We were given a set of options to decide from when faced with certain business related issues. This round required a lot of teamwork and debate to reach consensus on what to do. It was really fascinating to be exposed to different perspectives and pulling all of them together. The final part of the competition was a one minute elevator pitch of a unique and innovative idea. Becca Clark presented our ‘port-lock’ idea to twenty five of the other teams. Our idea was to created lockable charging ports powered by solar energy around key locations in city.
We were 3 points to becoming one of the top 10 teams out of 50 in the competition. Though gutted at how close we were to the finals, we were happy that we can that far. UBC was an experience that would not be forgotten quickly. We were given to opportunity to immerse ourselves in both the practical and theoretical aspects of business. We were also able to hone key transferable skills such as innovation, creativity, dedication and teamwork while having tremendous fun in the process!
I would thoroughly recommend this event to all business school students.