From a plethora of options to choose from, why did you decide to participate in L.I.M.E.?
Being a student from a prestigious b-school, we get a lot of corporate exposure. Starting from leadership talks, to summer internships, to business competitions, XIMB offers a diverse array of platforms to choose from.
As a team, we found solving case studies quite invigorating during our course curriculum. Talking about HUL L.I.M.E. (Lessons in Marketing Excellence), it is the country’s biggest and most closely contested b-school challenge. This year HUL, in association with CNBC TV18, came to our campus with a challenge in the marketing domain. All 3 of us were excited, as this was a perfect platform to work on live business challenges, with the intensity it promised being a cherry on the icing.
The industries which you must study for this competition are quite varied. In our case, we started with a case on HUL’s flagship venture, the Taj Mahal Tea House (located in Mumbai), and then progressed to the automotive industry, wherein we studied Ford. The teams that qualified further were given another case on sustainability. Therefore, it gives you an evolving platform for learning and growing.
Being a newbie to the live competition scene with no prior experience, what was your approach towards solving the case studies?
We started with an intensive market survey and performed secondary research of a wide magnitude to understand the exact gap, which was presented as the problem. For our first case, we spoke to various music academies, instrument shop owners and gourmet teahouses in India. Taj Mahal Tea House, unlike its more popular counterpart, Chaayos, is an exclusive hotspot, curating tea-based beverages for true connoisseurs. Its value proposition is the unique ambience which it has created in its only location, and creating multiple, differential experiences pan-India is a challenge which brand aficionados would love as a challenge! Being business school students, being given an opportunity of such magnitude is a huge privilege.
For our semi-finals, we went to showrooms, franchise dealers, and asked owners of Ford Cars, along with studying the reviews on social media to understand consumer sentiments. The research gave us amazing insights and taking cues from those insights we brainstormed on solutions that can help us. We also met a lot of experts and conducted interviews and discussions. The market research was the foundation of our entire solution.
Since the theme of L.I.M.E Season 9 was “creating newer business models”, we worked towards having a solid business canvas to support our idea at every stage.
With such a unique proposition in front of you, I’m sure you faced many hurdles. Could you elucidate on some of the challenges which you overcame?
Communicating the ideas and validating them with the target group were our major concerns. The feasibility of the proposal was not an issue, as we had solid research to back up; but we were quite concerned about the reception of the idea by our primary stakeholders. Also, designing a customized marketing strategy for the Tea House, as well as Ford needed a lot of industry-specific research and pushing the envelope beyond the usual realm.
Management courses focuses on primarily managing two aspects: time and people. Most students do find opportunities to address the first aspect through their two years of rigorous MBA course. While XIMB’s big, diverse batch strength propels us to divulge into the people aspect, this competition helped us go beyond the usual realm. Imagine talking to consumers who might not have ever been questioned regarding their preferences before. It was a learning experience from both the ends and while we face the challenge of dealing with the behavioural aspect of soliciting objective information, our firm resolve in giving our best motivated us through the journey.
Participating in a national level competition, along with the learning curve, would also have its fair share of rewards. As a management student, what were your key takeaways?
While the cash prize of INR 1 Lakh was a plus, our biggest takeaway would be the goliath trove of knowledge which we accumulated and getting an opportunity to represent our college at the national level in Mumbai.
The treasure trove of knowledge, the new skills which we developed, and the knack of problem-solving capability which we inculcated would be a part of our corporate lives. But, most importantly, the team: we have so many memories to cherish and have developed a bond for the lifetime.
In a nutshell, how would you describe your journey at L.I.M.E.?
The journey was very exciting and the hard work, which the team had put in, and it cannot be explained in mere words. We learnt something new each day, and the difference of opinions that the team had at each point in time helped in fool-proofing our solution and gave us the confidence to face the competition, and life altogether, with a sharper perspective.
Also, L.I.M.E. is one of those few competitions, where you get featured you on national television, and having the diverse populace and your supporters see you fight it out could be either a big distraction or a huge encouragement. We believe our course curriculum which helps you let go of your inhibitions, especially in dealing with a batch size bigger than the norm, helped us mine the best experience possible.
B-Schools are known for their rigorous, holistic curriculum. How do you feel XIMB prepares you for the world outside your campus?
B-School life is very competitive, where everyone wants to do well and differentiate themselves from the others. Be it case studies, article writing or anything. You can study, do your assignments, get good grades and get placed. It’s the normal route which is taken by many. But, the normal is not challenging. Competitions ignite a fire in you to do better, learn more, and strengthen your skills.
Currently, the andragogy is almost fully dependent on lectures, but there is another side to it. Case studies give you an exposure to the real business problems, and a platform to ideate, innovate and excel. Moreover, the value which every competition adds to your CV is very unique. The learning is cross-functional, and hence competition is an integral part of any b-school student’s life.
The subjects, the support and encouragement from the professors, the presentations, the research tools, the methodology frameworks, and the conducive environment were a big contribution to our success. We were guided by the one of the best marketing faculty at XIMB, specialising in branding domain, who showed us a whole new perspective of the case. It widened our line of sight and thought process.
XIMB is one of the few colleges having a devoted committee to promote corporate competitions, and we have emerged as winners at various competitions in different domains, year on year. The numerous business competitions which big corporates choose to host at the XIMB campus gives us the perfect opportunity to test how strong our classroom learnings would hold its feet against the vagaries of real-life challenges. And it feels good to come out victorious.