High School Students Get a Taste of Business and Victory at the ESSEC Case Competition

  • 150 students from SEA impress judges with their creativity at the ESSEC Case Competition For High School Future Leaders.
  • Teams from ACS Jakarta, International French School Singapore and Singapore Cambodia International Academy emerge as winners.
  • Participants cite workshops by ESSEC Business School as crucial to helping them develop ideas and confidence.

There was a palpable buzz of excitement and anticipation at ESSEC Business School on 11 September as participants from the ESSEC Case Competition for High School Future Leaders gathered virtually and in-person to present their ideas for how to turn Singapore and NYC-based company, Confetti Snacks, into a household name.

The case competition, held by ESSEC Business School in collaboration with Confetti Snacks and professional training and coaching company, The Human Factor, was open to high school students across Asia. Students had spent weeks researching and brainstorming, and for many, this final day was the first time they would be speaking in front of an international audience comprising students, industry experts and ESSEC faculty. In the audience—and key to impress—was also Betty Lu, founder of Confetti Snacks.

“I was most excited to contribute to youth entrepreneurship and also to learn from the young minds of the future,” Lu says, adding that she was on the lookout for ideas that above all, showed an ability to think out of the box.

All 150 participants delivered. After a difficult period of deliberation, 30 participating teams were whittled down to five, and three eventually emerged as winners: second runner-up, Team 15 from Singapore Cambodia International Academy; first runner-up, Team 12 from International French School; and overall champions, Team 19 from ACS Jakarta.

Creativity Takes Center Stage

What stood out the most was how the proposals hit the mark for being both comprehensive and creative. Although a wide range of proposals involved online platforms like TikTok, YouTube and collaborations with social media influencers, participants were careful to also bring their ideas offline, leveraging on traditional bus advertisements and real-world events for a holistic, omni-channel experience.

“The teams showed very thorough research, excellent solutions with robust evidence, and presented with passion. The quality of the work was outstanding—I would not have guessed these ideas came from 15 to 17-year-olds if I had not known beforehand,” Maria Kassova, an executive coach, who was on the panel of judges, affirms.

The Business School Experience Builds Confidence

More impressive than their age, is perhaps the fact that a majority of the students had little to no business experience before the case competition.

“The ESSEC Business School workshops were very, very helpful,” Olivia Gunawan, whose team came up with the winning idea, explains of her group’s success. 

“The workshop on entrepreneurship by Julien Salanave taught us how problem-solving is at the heart of every business, and the workshop on public speaking with Maria Kassova really inspired us to create a presentation that would ‘wow’ the judges.”

“My team was worried that everyone would be more experienced than us, and we’d have difficulty understanding what to do. But the workshops turned out to be easy to follow and very interesting,” Julia Sizaire from the first runner-up team, chimes in. She adds that it was thanks to guidance from the coaches, that her team managed to start their research process and gained confidence to follow through with their ideas.

Echoing Olivia’s sentiments, she shares that she, too, benefited significantly from the public-speaking workshop. “Maria explained the different techniques and showed us the importance of tone and body language. I’m not comfortable with public speaking, so the knowledge gave me more confidence, and I tried to use the tips during my presentation,” she explains.

While Julia’s biggest takeaway was gaining confidence to step out of her comfort zone, Olivia is confident that the lessons learned on problem-solving, communication, and importantly, teamwork, will be the ones that help her the most in her future. Whether they, or any of the case competition participants, go on to careers in the business world is a story yet to be written, but one thing is for sure: The taste of business and victory they’ve had at ESSEC can make their journey forward sweeter.

Congratulations to the winning teams:

Overall winner: Team 19 from ACS Jakarta comprising Olivia Tjindra Gunawan, Adiva Nahdi, Kaira Wynette Wibowo, Kelly Faith Tanurahardja, Nicole Huang, Emily Adrienne Yang

First runner-up: Team 13 from International French School, Singapore, comprising Julia Sizaire. Aaron Shen, Brooklyn Monod, Claire Harel

Second runner-up: Team 15 from Singapore Cambodia International Academy, Cambodia, comprising Chy Panhavotey, Cheng Chanvatey, Vong Chung Hen, Pen Colin, Luy Danita

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