Founded in 2008, the Solvay Business Game (SBG) is today one of the biggest business students competition in Europe. Each year, more than one thousand students from all over the continent (and sometimes, the world) apply for this event in order to be part of this wonderful experience. Not only is the SBG an opportunity to discover great companies and employers, it also allows students to meet peers with different backgrounds and from different universities.
The main partner of the SBG is McKinsey & Company, a leading management consulting firm that helps corporations and organizations to improve their businesses. On top of BDO and Unilever, which are partners of the SBG for the third year in a row now, the 9th edition of the Solvay Business Game has the chance to welcome two new partners: Lidl and the Bank Degroof Petercam.
2016 also was a record year in terms of registrations. Due to its increasing popularity, the SBG attracted not less than 1312 registrations.
Due to the success of this event, all participants who wanted to attend this game had to take on an online test per groups of 2 and then. As a result, from the 1312 students initially registrated, 400 of them got invited to participate in the SBG that took place at the Brussels Sheraton Hotel during two days.
The Solvay Business Game 2016 started on the 4th of March with an opening speech by the Dean of the Solvay Business School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM), Mr. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, and McKinsey & Company.
This year 6 challenges were presented. Each challenge has its own winner and the last challenge is made of the 2 teams that had the highest score, all challenges included.
The first one was the Lidl Online Challenge, which was axed around strategic decision skills. This challenge took place 2 weeks before the event. Participants had to solve the problem in pairs with the aim of helping Lidl to improve their e-commerce and online retailing.
The Marketing challenge, organized by Unilever, asked from students to set up a complete marketing campaign for compressed deodorants. The goal of this challenge was to make these deodorants more appealing than its competitors. Indeed, even if these new deodorants are smaller, they still last as long as the “normal” ones, with only less packaging, which means they are also more environmental friendly. The winners of this challenge were awarded for the new idea they brought with presenting a cubic design of deodorant that they named with the slogan « From tube to cube ».
The Strategy challenge, hosted by Degroof Petercam, tested strategic decision-making skills based on real facts and figures. The topic was the importance of digitalization in wealth management and the possible impact on private banks. Students had to present solutions, ideas and creativity according to this subject.
The Negotiation challenge, organized by BDO, asked from students to get the best deal possible in a “fight” between two parties over a piece of land. In this situation, one party had to sell the property, whereas the other party wanted to buy it. The goal was to correctly evaluate the property and determine the most interesting price. Students also had to negotiate in order to find a common ground with a right price. The challenge proved to be more difficult than many expected because both parties had different private information, on top of different valuation methods.
During the penultimate challenge, the Pitch Challenge, students had to present to a panel of judges the solutions they found for some questions they received the day before.
Finally, the Eloquence Challenge, hosted by McKinsey & Company itself, required from the two best scoring teams to go on stage for the big final in order to debate on a business subject.
Exclusively for you, dear Readers of the Solvay Student Review, we had the chance to meet and interview one of the winners of this edition of the SBG, Mr. Sebastian Metselaar:
- Hi Sebastian. First of all, congratulations for winning the SBG and thank you for taking your time to answer to our questions. Can you briefly introduce yourself to us and to our readers?
« I’m Sebastian, currently 20 years old and studying business engineering at Ghent University. I’m a basketball fanatic, love tennis and enjoy reading – a bit of my « nerdy » side, I guess »
- Nice to meet you Sebastian! Could you please tell us more about your experience and your feelings while attending this huge business game?
« The SBG experience is one of a kind. It’s incredible how much you learn in those two intense days. The SBG tests and challenges you in every possible way – to work effectively in teams, to perform under pressure and to pitch your ideas in a concise manner. I’d recommend anybody to participate at least once. The skills you learn are invaluable, and are never taught in classes. The experience truly pushes you higher and will help your future career. After all 5 challenges, we (William Florin & I) were blessed and honored to win the 2016 SBG and to take home the Eloquence trophy, hosted by McKinsey »
- Thank you for these precious information. But let us ask you which challenge did you fear the most or which one was the most challenging?
« The most challenging case was the negotiation challenge, organized by BDO. Not only did you need to use your analytical and technical skills to assess the problem, but you also needed to use your communication and interpersonal skills in order to cooperate with the other team, and make the best deal possible. In the last 10 min we ended up making a deal – you could definitely say it was stressful! »
As rightly pointed out By Sebastian Metselaar, the SBG is certainly a hard working place but it also has a huge fun, a lot of different partners, activities and new meetings that one can make during the breaks or the challenges themselves.
The event ended with the awards, walking dinner and champagne bar which were more than deserved after 2 intensive days of hard work.
Such as in every year, the event was very successful, also thanks to the great team that prepared the event during the whole year. A first panel of students has to take care of all the administrative and organization tasks involved by this event whereas a second team has to promote the event itself in different universities across Europe. As members of this second team, we have to confess that it was a pleasure for us to promote this game across different universities and meet people who either have already heard about this fantastic game or are discovering the game through us. To conclude, we wanted to thank the whole team and especially the 60 volunteers who worked with us during those 2 days intensively in order to make this event unforgettable and so it was! As Sebastian said « I strongly recommend you to be part of the Solvay Business Game experience ».
See you there maybe next year!
If you want to participate in the biggest Business competition for students in Europe or be part of the organizational team, do not hesitate to register for the 2017 edition!
By Albana Bekteshi & Avnije