It is 11:58am and I am sitting in the vault trying to determine the best means of conveying my 2014 HEC Sustainability Challenge experience. My exhaustion is still present in the bags under my eyes as I think back on the whirlwind of the trip. Sleeplessness, adrenaline, and poutine probably describe it best. When you only have fifteen minutes to present you learn to be succinct. However, there is always a larger story.
Our team comprised of four disparate individuals; Adrian, who behind his stoic façade hid a passion for numbers unparalleled by even Warren Buffet; Anca, who could charm any judge with her intelligence and wit; Michelle, who wasn’t afraid to dream big; and me, the guy who seemed to walk into the wrong party and didn’t even realize it. For the week prior to the competition we spent 130 hours analyzing, psychoanalyzing, and dreaming about our case. We knew more about lithium mining than we ever dared imagine. We neglected friends, family, exercise, good eating, and sanitary hygiene only to grapple with ambiguous info, overwhelming research, and a proverbial volley of pipe wrenches thrown into our spokes. It was only through the amazing tutelage of Stephanie Bertels, Beedie’s renowned expert in all things sustainable, that we were able to keep our sanity. She was both tough and demanding and it was through her forges that we became a strong contender for Montreal.
We landed in Trudeau airport only to be met by the coldest blizzard I have ever experienced. The only thing colder was the iciness of our resolve. Our hotel provided us with a “gourmet” hotdog bar along with onion rings fried in oil unchanged since its opening in 1978. We quickly fuelled up and rehearsed into the late hours of the evening. After three hours of sleep we awoke early and arrived at HEC to see our competition. Our team was the only one of twelve to not reference the colour green in their names. Points for originality I thought. As we were called in to present an adrenaline ran over me. Like an artist never satisfied with their work you never feel 100% but you recognize that you are at the precipice and the time to jump is now. Fortunately, we stepped up and conducted our best presentation to date.
Following our presentation was my first sensation of time travel. The clock seemed to move backwards as I waited for the results. When the moment arrived and our team advanced to the finals a feeling of accomplishment and trepidation washed over me. We had 18 hours to prepare the second part of our case. We decided to relish in the moment for an hour before jumping back into the fray. An example of unwavering commitment came from Michelle who, en route back to the hotel, dropped her shoe from the taxi and insisted on leaving it behind. For one more sleepless night we worked away and before we knew it we were standing in an auditorium, the last team to present for the entire HEC Sustainability Challenge. We were nervous, tired, and perhaps slightly delusional having just spent two hours isolated watching Good Will Hunting and YouTube videos, but we presented with confidence and boldness. When the dust had settled we came in third amongst our peers. To say the experience was trying would be an understatement. To say that I learned a lot would be even more so. I am proud to say we represented Beedie with dignity and compassion and I was left with an experience I would never forget.
Shaun McPhee is a full time MBA Student at the Beedie School of Business. For the last three years he worked within the deployment control centre for BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program. Passionate about history, current affairs, and pop culture he constantly looks to apply his knowledge to the local trivia scene. Outside of scholarly pursuits he can be found playing ultimate, captaining his softball team, or simply meandering in nature. Connect with Shaun on LinkedIn or Facebook.