Siemens’ Hult Business Challenge 2017: Winners interview
Seven months to find the best solution to a global corporation’s challenge, or to bring your own startup idea to market—The Hult Business Challenge encapsulates what learning at Hult is all about. Real, practical, intense, no-limits teamwork.
The winning team
Guillermina Sanchez, Argentina
Pre-MBA role: originally an Architect but working with marketing for the last 8 years, last position at TEDxSaoPaulo
Bharti Mathur, India
Pre-MBA role: Senior Operations Manager, Customer Care at American Express
Ayushi Goyal, India
Pre-MBA role: Assistant Manager, Audit & Assurance at Deloitte Haskins & Sells
Adeboye Oye, Nigeria
Pre-MBA role: Sales Manager for National Portfolio at Pfizer, worked for 8 years in the pharma industry
Fermin Carrillo, Venezuela
Pre-MBA role: Field Engineer at Schlumberger Ltd. (Oil and Gas Industry)
Mauricio Alarcon, Mexico
Pre-MBA role: Field Service Manager at Schlumberger Ltd. (Oil and Gas Industry)
“We created a disruptive business model leveraging trends like electric vehicles, the Internet of Things, and smart cities initiative.”
Tell us a bit about the idea – how did you come up with it and what’s the objective?
Our solution was to create an innovative, disruptive, and sustainable business model to position Siemens as a provider of infrastructure for wireless power transmission, building a roadmap to leverage the growing need of wireless charging due to trends like electric vehicles, the Internet of Things, and smart cities initiative. The vision was for Siemens to create wirelessly distributed electricity networks for electric vehicles, and then scale them up to serve communities and cities.
How did you choose your team?
Ayushi took the lead of bringing people together. The guiding philosophy in building the team was about diversity at its best. We thought that having a diverse team of MBAs in terms of cultural and professional backgrounds, as well as personality styles and gender, would bring unique perspectives to our ideas and how we implement them.
Did you have any mentors or advisors? How did they help?
Eric Giler (former Witricity’s CEO) and Katie Hall (former Witricity’s CTO) were our mentors. Guillermina reached out to Eric through Linkedin and he promptly accepted to advise us in our project.
We met three times in order to further understand the technology and get help with the development of the ideas. They provided us basic knowledge about the wireless power transmission technology and the applications it has in different industries. They also provided us feedback about our idea for the business model.
The whole idea seemed very futuristic, but they showed us the amazing technology working in front of us and told us real stories about how the technology is actually changing lives in the defense and medical field and the potential of its future.
Eric told us how a lot of soldiers are dying more by being out in the field to change batteries of robots that dismantle bombs, rather than in combat. This technology made it possible to wirelessly charge the robots and save a lot of lives. They made our vision possible and ignited our passion.
“They showed us the amazing technology working in front of us and told us real stories about how the technology is actually changing lives.”
How did you test the strength of your idea?
We sought help from professors and we presented in front of the challengers who try to tear the whole idea down. We received a lot of useful feedback from them, but the most important moment for us was receiving feedback from the other students. That’s when we found out that our idea was the most disruptive and out of the box.
What was the biggest challenge you faced throughout the project?
We wanted to propose a business model for a future 20 to 30 years from now. Beyond everybody’s comprehension. The biggest challenge was to make it realistic, to convince them that it was actually happening, even as we speak; that competitors and even Siemens were actually working with similar technologies.
Even though people were amazed by our ideas, they still were very skeptical. There are so many internal and external issues that have the potential to destroy the team, and the team ideals. We learnt that the team must stick together.
What was the highlight of the experience?
The strong teamwork was the highlight of this experience. Learning to enjoy the small wins after some big lows, and being together through it all. We had our challenges and disagreements, but we were focused and we really believed in our idea.
Another highlight was actually going through the process involved in developing new business ideas to create competitive advantage in a disruptive industry – an incredible learning experience.
What skill did you develop the most during the Challenge?
Guillermina: I learned to deal with a group of different results-driven people. We were very effective even though we had to face a decent amount of stress.
Bharti: Being persistent in your belief and seeing an idea through to the end despite a fair amount of criticism.
Ayushi: Learning how to say focused and extracting positivity out of negative criticism has been a great learning. Some believed the idea was preposterous (*laughs*).
Adeboye: I have pitched business ideas quite a number of times in my years in the pharma industry. Pitching this time for my team was a different ball game. With tremendous support from this very diverse team, I took my pitching skills to a new level.
Fermin: The skills I developed the most were team skills, and creating an insightful story to communicate our ideas.
Mauricio: Conflict management (*laughs*).
“We wanted to propose a business model for a future 20 to 30 years from now. Beyond everybody’s comprehension.”
What are your plans for the future?
Guillermina: After the challenge, I became interested in maybe working for the energy sector, companies like Siemens, GE, Tesla, and developing the marketing strategy. I keep track of Siemens’ operations and I follow the evolution of wireless technology, the Internet of Things, electric vehicles, and smart cities initiatives. It’s really sparked my interest.
Bharti: This experience has made me very interested in building business strategies and in marketing. I plan to pursue Dual Degree in marketing from Hult and aim for a job where I’m able to add value and brings me satisfaction..
Ayushi: A job focused on the financial viability of business plans and proposals involving its forecasting and budgeting is what interests me the most. Keeping in touch with this extraordinarily talented team and set of friends is a sure checkpoint in my plan. It’s been a pleasure.
Adeboye: The pharma industry has been my passion for the last 9 years and I plan to return to same, although to a more strategic function where I can interpret the various ramifications of movements in the business, and how to apply them to maximize value for all stakeholders.
Fermin: My plan for the future is to work for a technology company like Witricity as I have developed a keen interest in wireless power transmission technology and its applications in our daily life.
Mauricio: Find a job in the energy sector. And keep in contact with this great HBC team.
The Challenge from Siemans
This year, MBA students at the San Francisco and Boston campuses took on this challenge from Siemens:
The electric utilities industry is undergoing major disruption. Transitioning to this new marketplace will require incumbents to effect transformative rather than incremental changes in utility business models. Your team is being tasked to advise Siemens on the future vision and the specific plan that will be announced by the CEO, and to develop a business case and justified recommendations backed by insightful analysis, real-data, and a clear strategy.
Companies and challenges vary according to campus every year. Previous partners and challenges have included how to utilize AI technology from IBM, and how to market pre-emptive health treatments with Johnson & Johnson.
Find out more about the Hult Business Challenge.
To find out more about Hult’s global business programs, download a brochure
Next, we talk to the MBA Hult Boston team that won the entrepreneurial challenge…
Laura Chung is a staff blogger and Hult’s Global Head of Copy & Editorial. Previously a senior copywriter in PayPal’s Worldwide Creative Studio, she has also written and designed e-learning courses for many well-known brands including Microsoft, Redbull, KPMG, and BT. Laura believes passionately in the power of storytelling in both marketing and learning and indulges her love of stories by writing creatively in her spare time.