Managing P&G's Multibillion Dollar Brands: The Seventh KCC - P&G Commercial Challenge Gone Virtual
“Regardless of the results, you learned something new that would definitely help you in future case studies. In my team, two of us joined P&G after we participated in the competition”. This is how Assem Abdelhamid, senior sales manager at P&G, expressed his pride to witness the great talents of the participants of the seventh edition of the KCC - P&G Commercial Challenge and praised them for their efforts in coming up with creative solutions in such a short time.
The winners of this year’s challenge, Hussien Ahmed, Mark Mikhael, Marwan Mohamed, and Zeyad El Shayeb were announced in the closing ceremony, which took place on March 14. The runner-up team, Youssef Sakr, Youssef Abou Hamer, Kerlos Zareef, and Mohanad Mahrallah was only three points away from the winning team. Originally, around 70 students formed 19 teams to register in the competition, with eleven of these teams presenting their final pitches in front of two panels of judges who then discussed their presentations and decided on the winner.
"This competition is among various KCC activities that foster experiential learning,” said Engy Magdy, director of El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC), adding: “It has always been a success since its launch more than seven years ago, and this year is no exception despite being held online."
This year’s winners expressed their excitement to have won the competition. From the brainstorming sessions within the team, coming up and refining ideas, to presenting in front of P&G executives, to winning the challenge all in one week, the winners have witnessed numerous exciting moments in this competition.
As Hussein Ahmed, electronics and communication engineering junior, puts it: “What I really enjoyed the most in this competition was definitely the conversations and the negotiations I had with my colleagues. It was really beneficial and interesting to hear others' opinions and points of view and discover their way of thinking.”
Such a competition gives students the opportunity to apply what they learn in class in real-life cases. It enables them to transfer their learning experience from books and theories to a more professional and realistic experience.
Zeyad Elshayeb, business administration finance junior, said: “The most interesting aspect of the competition is that we got the chance to solve a real-life case, which led us to be in contact with the real-life environment, taking us one step closer to the job experience”.
As the competition participants come from various backgrounds from business administration to engineering, participation in the challenge opens new possibilities for them and empowers them to venture into different fields of interest.
Marwan Mohamed, mechanical engineering junior, said: “The most interesting thing about the challenge was the fact that it gave me a chance to adopt a new way of thinking that is outside my field of engineering and try to expand my horizons and learn new ways of problem-solving, especially from a marketing aspect, something that I never encounter in the engineering world”.
The challenge started off with an introductory session to guide the students in solving the case followed by a case walk-through. Afterward, the registered teams had one week to work on the case before they presented their solutions to a panel of P&G managers.
The time constraints presented another very real-life challenge for students to perfect their ideas in such a short time span.
“In my opinion, there weren’t a lot of challenges faced; however, the pressure of time made coming up with fruitful ideas challenging,” said Elshayeb.
The time constraints were not the only challenge facing the teams, the competition itself was just as hard.
Mark Mikhael, business administration finance and accounting junior added: “For me, the most frustrating part was constantly coming up with and discarding ideas to best accommodate the consumer demands and preferences.”
The KCC P&G competition was a journey in which the students learned a lot of valuable lessons. The participants expressed how the competition helped them in developing important soft skills like communication, teamwork, and technical skills in branding and sales.
“It taught me to step outside my comfort zone. […] Taking the leap and deciding to participate and thankfully ending up with a win made me realize the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone and trying to seize every opportunity that is thrown their way,” said Mohamed.
“I definitely improved my communication skills as well as presentation skills. The feedback I got after the presentations from P&G was also very beneficial,” added Ahmed.
Mikhael elaborated: “Firstly, I learned to always have a plan B to account for any unforeseen changes and for that, have a plan C. Secondly, relating to the consumer mindset is extremely helpful not only when devising sales and distribution plans but also in small details such as product design and packaging”.
During the competition, the participants got in touch with a number of P&G executives from whom they learned a lot, including Assem Abdelhamid, senior sales manager at P&G, who gave a quick session titled "The Two Basic Mindsets that Shape our Decisions" before the announcement. In the session, Abdelhamid shared some tips that would help students in their success journey. He talked about two basic mindsets that influence the decision-making process. The model he explained consisted of eight levels of accountability that help in becoming more perceptive to opportunities.
Given the valuable lessons that the participants of the winning team learned, it was apparent that they have invested extensive effort in perfecting their presentations and in making their plan as realistic as they could, which is something that the judging panel noticed and applauded.
Karen Youssef, brand manager at P&G, congratulated the winning team and expressed her admiration for the effort they put into their presentation. She elaborated: “What made us choose this group is because you put a lot of effort into your concept. Everything was well measured and very specific and you have translated that into your PNL. We are very proud that this plan was very feasible and you have come up with it in just a week’'.
Commenting on the level of talent and creativity that all the participants showed in the competition, Mostafa Abou Ghali, North Africa senior HR manager and MEA branding and initiatives leader at P&G, said: “These kinds of case competitions are a channel for us to engage with students to see the quality of the calibers, to spot different talents, and give them the right experience whether they decide to go to P&G or not”.
Embracing this life-changing experience, the winners have definitely learned some life lessons that they will carry with them. As Mohamed puts it: “It was truly an amazing and interactive experience that gave me a glimpse of the real world and I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to participate in such competitions to seize the chance and go for it”.
All the participating teams will receive a certificate of participation. The winning team will also be surprised when their doorbell rings with a very valuable P&G kit delivered to their doorsteps.