The battle has heated up again! It is down to the last 20 participants in five teams competing for the title of the most prestigious business plan competition, Battle of Minds. On September 4, one will be crowned champion.
British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh have been organising Battle of Minds every year since 2004. The company has recruited over 70 managers through the competition into various entry level positions in the last nine years. Participants are faced with real-life business challenges, unforeseen situations, and are pushed to the limits.
Battle of Minds serves BAT Bangladesh as a unique recruitment tool through which the finalists are groomed, introduced with the company’s culture and faced with a unique business challenge. After the competition, the finalists are then invited for further assessment sessions and upon qualifying are hired to be a member of BAT Bangladesh. The competition had also been implemented in South Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan.
This year more than a thousand undergraduate students from all over Bangladesh applied to participate in Battle of Minds. After the initial screening 100 were selected for the first round. The participants were assessed individually prior to the final round.
Minhaj Nur Alam, a finalist, said: “Battle of Minds is a very prestigious competition and gives us new challenges, new ways of thinking and an idea about challenges faced by businesses.”
The final round kicked-off on August 26 with five teams – two teams from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), two teams from Islamic University of Technology (IUT), and a team from North South University (NSU). The teams were given an office setup at Club Amazon in Gulshan and worked as four-member teams.
On August 26, the finalists were briefed on presentation skills, essential business skills and what was expected of them in the final round. On the second day, the teams were given a business case to solve as consultants to a hypothetical multinational beverage company. By the end of the week, the teams’ task was to develop a product, a business strategy, and marketing plan.
Each teams were assigned a separate room depicting an office environment with ingredients for making a tea-based beverage and credits for purchasing market information. The teams had until the end of the week to finalise an actual product and how they would sell the product.
The teams were faced with constant twists and turns with new information and changing situation at every corner depicting real-life business situation. The teams needed to revise their course of action accordingly in overcoming such obstacles.
The five teams competing in the final round are “Ocean’s 4”, “Cracker Jacks”, “The Sentinels” and “House Stark”, and “Decepticons” from IBA, NSU and IUT.
Taking the name from a popular Hollywood movie, Ocean’s 4 is said to be filled with enthusiasm, creativity, and a solid combination of skills that complement one another. The team members are Mohammed Masudur Rahman, Bhaskar Kumar Dey, Sabrina Afroz, and Samira Saba. Although the team has participated in similar competitions before they feel that Battle of Minds is different as it reflects on the professional aspects of a business and makes one think from a business owner’s perspective. Talking to Dhaka Tribune about her expectation from Battle of Minds, Sabrina said: “Battle of Minds gives the participants a good exposure to some of the greatest creators of leaders in the country.”
A second team is represented by the fiery Cracker Jacks. They are Reza Ahmed Ridwan, Mushfique Amin Mallick, Sumayea Tabassum, and Samia Khan. The team mentioned that they possess a very good understanding of business and team-bonding. Talking to Dhaka Tribune about Battle of Minds, Mushfiqe said: “The competition considers all aspects of a business and puts oneself in immense pressure to consider various factors. It puts the participants in an unfamiliar situation out of one’s comfort zone – an isolated room, limited resources and a huge challenge.” Their interests are in sports, event organising, and reading books.
The House Stark team members are Mehedi Hossain, Tahsin Mahmud Chowdhury, Shihab Nayeem, and Jamshed Karim. As Battle of Minds is a business plan competition, the team asserts that they anticipated a tough time in terms of preparation and followed their instincts into participating. House Stark are confident that they are fast learners, energetic, and enjoys challenging situations. Their interests are in music, debating, and designing graphics.
Nabil Rahman, Md Salamah, Minhaj Nur Alam, and Syed Fardeen make up the team of The Sentinels. According to them their team is skilled, visionary in solving analytic and strategic plans of a business, and with very good interaction and team chemistry. Talking about his experience of participating, Salamah said: “I have been able to develop my skills of managing and working in a team, creating business strategies, and skills dissimilar to my current background.”
Taking the name from the popular anime and movie “Transformers,” Decepticons team members are Nishath Quamrul, Salman Kabir, Tanvir Ebne, and Md Mushfiqur. In line with their own words the team’s strengths are unity, teamwork, confidence and humbleness. Nishath said: “The competition has given us the chance to develop our own product for the first time.” The team’s interest is in blogging, watching movies, reading books, music, and gadgets.
What lies ahead
The teams have already finalised their product, business strategy, and a marketing plan. They have one last session in the grand finale to present their cases and showcase their product.
Last year the title was won by IBA, in 2011 by Khulna University, and 2010 was conquered by Finance Department (DU).
This year, it’s up to the final five teams from IBA, IUT and NSU to bring glory for their universities. One team would emerge winner, while the others will take away the valuable experience gained from participating in the competition.
The grand finale will be held on September 4 at The Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel Dhaka.