Indians dominate French biz strategy competition

Thursday, 24 April 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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Indian management students dominated the awards at the finals of the 3rd L'Oreal e-Strat Challenge held in a glittering ceremony at the Eiffel Tower here.

PARIS: Of the four teams that bagged awards, Indians formed part of all, except one - an all-Brazilian team from the Coppead University - which walked away with the third prize. But for all the other prizes, including the first and second prize and also the jury's special prize, went to teams that either had Indian members or were entirely Indian. A total of 17,000 students from 800 schools in over 80 countries around the world were in the hunt for places in the final. A total of 32 teams from various Indian management institutes, including the IIMs and the IITs, competed in the third edition of the competition this year. L'Oreal, which is the world's largest cosmetics company, says its E-strat championship is becoming hugely popular across the world, adding that in 2002, the number of students participating was only 8,000 and this year it has more than doubled to hit the 17,000 mark. The top prize was bagged by the Vodite team from the French management school, Insead, located about 50 km from Paris. One of the three members of the team was Sahil Merchant, an Indian living in Australia. Likewise, one of the three members of the second-placed team - Harvard Business School - was Mumbai-based Sachin Palod. And, to cap it all, the all-Indian team, IndoTigers, bagged the jury's special award for its unique poetic touch added to a very fine presentation. The team, comprising of Ajay Gopalakrishnan, Bijo George and Manish Kurien, all students of Mumbai's S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, had earlier become the first Indian team to make it to the finals of this virtual business strategy competition. "We had introduced our participation in the finals as a fairy tale where we were the three princes trying to capture the heart of the princess - the trophy. We made it poetic to add a touch of humour to our presentation," IndoTigers told IANS after bagging the award. The three, who hail from Kerala and are the first year students at the Mumbai institute, said they did not expect to make it so far when they first applied to play the game nearly six months ago. "We did not think we will make it to the finals, or even make it beyond the first few rounds since in India itself we were up against teams from the best institutes. And in the semis, we had a very close and keen contest with a Singapore team," the team members said. But having made it to the finals and considering the fact they are the first Indian team to have reached so far in the game, the team members say it has been a great experience. "The last five days that we spent in Paris, meeting with people from all over the world and looking at the presentations and ideas of so many brilliant people, it has been a wonderful experience for all of us. Something that is worth even more than the award that we bagged," the IndoTigers say. An opinion entirely shared by Sachin Palod from Harvard. "We were just fascinated by the whole experience. We did not even think of winning any awards and were happy to be here for the last five days, meeting with people from around the world in this beautiful city," says Palod, whose family runs a business in Mumbai. It says the competition is a simulation where each team finds itself at the head of a virtual cosmetic company and the challenge is to work as a team, discuss strategy and take tactical decisions, in order to ensure that the company stays on track and ahead of competition. The competition is provided by four computer generated virtual cosmetic companies which respond, often in very innovative ways, to the decisions taken by the team. In the run-up to the finals, the students play the game for two months, which corresponds to five game runs and create a strategic business plan to qualify for the finals. The game includes the constraints and opportunities of the highly competitive international cosmetics business, with changes in distribution, currency valuations, social trends and purchasing power of the consumers. There are also a number of real market parameters that include corporate performance indicators like share price, market share, sales volumes, brand profiles including product pricing. The teams are judged on their performance across the entire spectrum and changes in stock prices will be an important criteria since it reflects a number of criteria - the company's financial performance, market position and consumer satisfaction.
Source: IANS

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