Editor’s note: Between November 3, 2012 and March 16, 2013, 80 students at both the MBA and undergraduate level took part in the 3rd Annual VANCOUVER+acumen Case Challenge. The experience included 4 workshops and a competition. Each year, the focus is to have students analyze the situation of and come up with a recommendation for an Acumen investee. Mike Vandervelden writes about the experience below.
I recently had the pleasure of preparing and presenting a strategy for Ziqitza Health Care Ltd to a panel of social entrepreneurs at the annual VANCOUVER+acumen case competition. This competition differs from most in that all cases revolve around a social enterprise. My team of fellow MBAs Winnie So, Andrew Simard, and I placed 2nd in what the organizer declared “The Closest Finals Yet.” The task was to provide a scalable strategy for Ziqitza to:
“Provide world-class ambulance service for all of India’s population, regardless of socioeconomic status”.
For us it all came down to “HELP”. We knew we had to provide something outside of the case that would be a real game changer, something that would make Ziqitza or 1298 (the emergency number they use) synonymous with ambulance services. That’s when we came up with the Acronym “HELP” to teach people when to dial 1298.
So, why bother share a 2nd place experience you might ask? Well, because the take away from this competition is so much more than meets the eye. This competition was unique in the sense that VANCOUVER+acumen put on a 4-session course spanning 5 months, in which they gave us tips on how to approach these types of problems. However, these skills go well beyond just case competitions, they are skills that can be applied to real world scenarios. In my mind, case competitions provide real world gut checks as to how we are applying our education. Although it took a few days for the sting of being so close to victory to dissipate, when I sit back and think about what we achieved, I couldn’t be more thrilled.
On a more personal level, this experience has done wonders for me in clarifying my career path. Upon starting the MBA program at BEEDIE, I knew I wanted to get involved in a sector where I could use business to make a positive impact in society; I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. I started looking at different options beyond my original goals in hopes of building a series of experiences that I could tie together and apply to an honorable initiative one day. Through the VANCOUVER+acumen workshops and case competition, I was able to grasp what it takes to provide a sustainable business strategy with philanthropic mission statements: I now believe I can achieve both simultaneously. This experience has not only refocused my objectives and introduced me to the exciting world of social enterprise, but I was also able to meet great people already working in this space. It’s opened a whole new world for me.