And the winner is… Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University (team Bora)! My heart stopped pumping blood for a second; we WON the HEC Sustainability Challenge! We are at top of Canada’s business schools! My phone went off like a bumble bee on caffeine after the announcement as my girlfriend, family and friends were all sending me congratulatory messages.
When we were first introduced as a team, we knew we could achieve something in Montreal. The four of us, Colin Knudsen, Erin Lane and Geordan Hankinson and myself are from completely different backgrounds, with vastly different skill sets. But we were well warned by our Cross-Cultural Management professor Mila Lazarova — if you can’t integrate your diverse skills as a team, you will come in last.
Before the case competition, we did some practice cases with Stephanie Bertels, a sustainability professor here at Beedie. She taught us the proper tactics to solve complex sustainability problems. She tore apart my PowerPoint and focused in on the core root of sustainability challenges. RISK! It is always about managing risks, she said. Apparently this was my job.
We received the case one week prior to the competition. The problem was a surprise as past cases usually involved mining or resource firms. This time it was Air Canada. Coming from a mining and consulting background, I had a lot to learn, FAST.
Days passed, evenings dragged on full of discussion. To biofuel, or not to biofuel? After much hair pulling and eye gouging we came out with a solid presentation in our hotel room minutes before the deadline. Monte Carlo simulations, in-depth biofuel feedstock suppliers and route analysis, and biofuel value chain modelling all incorporated themselves into our presentation.
Post announcement, we were invited to a late night dinner with the organizers that was utterly brag-worthy. Spanish wines and French fine dining nurtured our frayedbodies back to life after 100+ hours of anxiety ridden hard work.
Overall, we won a trophy, a mock cheque worthy of carry-on luggage status, a real cheque to pad the wallet with pride, a dinner to Le Local and a lunch date with SFU Beedie’s Dean, Danny Shapiro. Well done team BORA!
Andrew Lee is a former Economist at BHP Billiton and management consultant at Deloitte Consulting. He is interested in economics, corporate finance and strategy. For consulting opportunities, please connect him via LinkedIn.