A Journey Which Offered More Than It Promised – RB Global Challenge 2018

A B-schooler’s life in India usually follows a defined pattern since the time they join their dream B-school. Classes, committees, guest lectures, placements and a lot of competitions.

However, there are times when one’s journey through all this is defined by one moment, and that moment for me, was one I could have never imagined.

By the end of our 1st year, as we headed towards our internships, teams were already being formed for one of the key aspects of a B-school life – corporate competitions. I did the same, as I formed a team with my friends – Ayshu Varsha and Vipul Mehta, who fortunately had diverse backgrounds. Once we returned to college after the internship, the competition-floodgates opened, and one of the first and the biggest competition to be launched was the RB Global Challenge 2018.

Having participated in a lot of competitions, one unique thing about this particular competition was that there was no set problem that we had to solve. We had to find one, and then solve it as well!

Once we cleared the simulation round, that was the time when the brainstorming started for our big idea. It took us many sleepless nights before we were able to find the one big problem that we aimed to solve. Then came the idea that made us reach where we have: our solution to tackle the issue.

We submitted our solution and within the next few days, the results were announced and we were the only team from our campus to be shortlisted for the campus round. Before we knew it, we were called for the regional round at Mumbai. That was the time when our big idea actually started getting big.

After our presentation, the team from RB spent a good amount of time explaining the areas of improvement for our idea, and how it had the potential to be something really special. That was the moment when we actually came to terms with the fact that if we got the solution and feasibility right, this could be something that is actually taken up by the company.

The next phase of the journey was one where we learnt more than we had ever hoped for. Once the results for the regional rounds were announced and we made it to the national finals, each of the top 8 teams was assigned a mentor to help them with the solution.

We cannot thank RB enough for this guidance!

All of us know the usual ‘product-market fit’ fundas that we learn in classrooms, but our mentor made us realize how things actually work in the market. We received help on every aspect of our solution, right from redefining the problem statement, to product composition, marketing, financials and how all that needed to be sewn together.

By the time we submitted our final solution, our confidence level regarding our product were sky high. We knew that if we presented in right, we really had a great chance at grabbing the top spot, and a once in a lifetime experience that was in store for the winning team – Competing on a global level, in London, at RB’s Headquarters.

Then came D-day. 20th September 2018. I clearly remember the date, as it was that day, when all that we had hoped for, came true. We had practiced our presentation around 14-15 times, before we finally went in front of the jury. Post the presentation, as we were waiting for the results, there was a strange feeling, of anxiousness, yet feeling relieved at the same time, as we had executed our plans the way we wanted.

The results were announced, and that was our “Oh My God” moment. We were declared National Winners of RB Global challenge 2018.

In almost every competition, being National winner meant the end of the road. But not here, as now we had the ultimate task of proving ourselves at the international stage, and competing against the best minds from 19 countries across the globe.

The preparation for the global round began soon after the National finale. While we were doing bits at our end, the team from RB provided their full support to us as well for this journey. A full day was scheduled for us, where we visited the RB India headquarters in Gurgaon, spoke to various business leaders who helped us modify our Idea and make it as feasible as possible.

With a business Idea which was stronger than ever, we boarded the flight to London in November.

Initially, we just thought of the global round as another one wherein we go and present our idea, deal with the Q&A round and the hope for the best. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

The moment we reached our Hotel, we were given our ID cards, and for us, that was the one defining moment of our B-School journey, as below our name on the ID cards, there wasn’t any college or company, but there was a country – India.

That is the moment we actually realized that it was much bigger than we had ever imagined, and the three of us were representing our country at the global stage. That is one feeling that we can never forget and probably the only time we get to feel that way.

The event in London was planned over 2 days at RB’s central headquarters. Day 1 was the semifinal round, where all the global champions presented their ideas to RB’s senior leaders. Post the presentations, an innovation fair was organized wherein all the teams were given a chance to showcase their ideas to RB employees. It was quite an interactive session, as we got a chance to interact with many RB employees and showcase our idea to them. Almost each interaction brought a new perspective and how the product can be of use in different countries. At the end of Day 1, the top 6 teams were announced, who were to present to RB’s global leadership team the following day. Fortunately, we made the cut!

The final day of the event was one with mixed emotions. The journey of over 5 months was about to end, so there was nostalgia; We were presenting to the top leaders about whom we had just read about in Newspapers and online articles, so there was nervousness; Finally, there was a chance to be the best in the world, so there were lots and lots of excitement.

While we had presented the same idea 3 times since the start of the competition – Regional, National and Global Semi-final, yet the rush for the final round was higher than the last 3 times.

By the end of it, we stood the global runners up. While was there was a sense of disappointment in having missed the top spot by a whisker, yet the feeling of fulfillment was quite overpowering.

The journey which lasted for over 5 months, had us competing with over 8,000 students in India and a total of 16,000 students all over the globe. It gave us an immense amount of learning, and interactions with business leaders that we would’ve hardly gotten otherwise, at this stage of our lives. It helped us broaden our perspectives, not only from a business standpoint, but from a global viewpoint as well, as to how people in other countries think, act and view the world.

With this write-up, even though I’ve tried to capture as many pit-stops as possible we had in this journey, there’s one thing I can say for sure, It’s still just a small part of the experience. You have to be a part of it to fully understand how this helps you grow professionally, as well as personally.

To everyone who plans to take part in the 2019 edition of the RB Global challenge – All the best. See you on the other side!

Abhinav Bhargava

Currently pursuing MBA in Marketing at SIBM Pune.