Business School master’s students win Innovation Olympics in world's largest consulting competition

9 October 2019

Five master’s degree students from The University of Queensland (UQ) Business School have won IXL’s Innovation Olympics – the largest innovation consulting competition globally. This was UQ’s first time competing in the eight week competition, hosted four times per year.

The Innovation Olympics brings together university students internationally to work with renowned organisations such as PayPal, Nestle, Emirates NBD, Samsung, H&M, and NASA to create new approaches to business.

The competition is co-hosted by the IXL Centre for Innovation and GIMInstitute, based in Boston, USA. However, students from all over the world tune in via teleconference to partake in the games, including teams from Stanford University, Hult International Business School, The Asian Institute of Management and The Singapore School of Management.

Teams were given a Fortune 1000 Food and Beverage company as their client and faced with the challenge: What will be the next growth platform for the organisation?

The UQ team offered a bold direction and suggested something completely different from the current products and services offered by their client, who plans to incorporate the new ideas in the future. 

The winning UQ students included Sumi Rajan, Master of Business; Kristin Watkins, Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Ke (Claire) Bao, Master of Commerce; Khushbu Kaushik, Master of Business; and Pooja Bharadwaj, Master of Business.

Team member Kristin Watkins said the competition had greatly broadened her competitiveness for client-facing work.

“This competition has been invaluable to our experience, particularly the expectations of consultancy work,” said Ms Watkins.

“The team had to work at odd hours of the night and have meetings during those times due to the time difference, but it taught us a lot about preparedness and putting in effort until the last minute”.

Fellow teammate, Ms Rajan hopes that this win will prompt other students from UQ to undertake the challenge and gain experience outside of their degrees.

The competition included training, education, and mentoring from innovation professionals over a two month period. During this time, the teams work closely with an assigned client, liaising and workshopping options to innovate an aspect of the client’s organisation.

At the end of the competition, each team had to produce and present a business plan. The winning team and runner-up were awarded US$4000 and US$2000 respectively.

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