A team from IIM Shillong, comprising twins Aritro and Arko Datta, and Hardik Goyal, won the grand finale of BusinessLine on Campus (BloC) Boardroom Challenge 2021. SIBM Pune was the first runner-up while SPJIMR Mumbai finished third. For the finals case, participants had to present strategies for a wealth management company to attract retail investors to invest in non-traditional asset classes and improve awareness.

The two-month-long contest saw around 600 teams from top B-schools participate in the online preliminary psychometric test. In the second round, 33 teams were shortlisted to take part in the virtual semi-finals rounds across nine cities. The trio from IIM Shillong bagged the coveted title of CXOs of the year and ₹1 lakh in prize money while the team comprising Vijay Balaji KS and Arun Prasad of SIBM Pune won ₹75,000 and the SPJIMR Mumbai team of Sai Sankalp Vemavarapu, Lahari Nuchu, and Sambhav Batra, took home ₹50,000.

The announcement of the winning teams was made by A Balasubramanian, Managing Director and CEO, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd, the presenting sponsor for the case study challenge. Balasubramanian said that the idea was to make use of the inputs and insights spotlighted by students and facilitate dialogue about the wealth management industry which is often not discussed in high frequency.

IIM Shillong had to slug it out with eight other top B-schools in a nine-city final. The other teams competing for the CXO title were: IIM Bangalore, IMT Ghaziabad (Delhi), Great Lakes (Chennai), SIBM (Pune), IIM Kozhikode (Kochi), SPJIMR (Mumbai), and XLRI Jamshedpur (Kolkata) and JNTU (Hyderabad).

The jury comprised--KS Rao, Senior Vice President & Head, Investor Education & Distribution Development, Aditya Birla Sun Life AMC Ltd; Vishwadeep Kuila, Founder-Director, Brand Vectors; Kamlesh Sharma, Chief Public Affairs and Communications Officer, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages; and Lokeshwarri SK, Senior Associate Editor, and Head of Data Vertical, BusinessLine.

Kuila said most teams did a brilliant job assimilating the information and coming up with solutions. “It’s a complicated case and it’s not easy to analyse large amounts of data. What’s impressive is that the winning team went beyond the brief and had done a lot of primary and secondary research for their presentation.” Lokeshwarri pointed out that it was an open-ended case with multiple layers. “The winners went one step ahead with their additional reading and research. They presented original ideas on how to crack the market which really set them apart.”

Unanimous decision

Sharma said that the decision to pick IIM Shillong as winners was unanimous. “The winning team was able to structure their thoughts and present solutions backed with facts and data. They had done their due diligence before the presentation and that came through.” Rao said that all the presentations had some extremely useful insights while assessing the wealth management industry. “As someone in the field, I can make use of these ideas for my future business plans. Outstanding presentations, great teamwork, and the way each team approached the case was highly creative,” he said.

The BLoC Boardroom Challenge, a unique business strategy contest for B-schoolers, is in its fifth year. In 2017, the first year of the challenge, a team from LIBA, Chennai, was the winner, followed by ISB Hyderabad in 2018, IIM Ranchi in 2019, and SIBM Pune in 2020.

In the first three years, the contest was held as an on-ground event, where B-schools in different cities hosted the semi-finals of the contest, and the grand finale was held in Chennai.

Held entirely online

However, last year due to the pandemic, it was conducted entirely online. This year too, was a virtual experience, given the circumstances.

“The Boardroom challenge is a part of The Hindu group’s larger focus on students and education. It underlines BusinessLine’s focus on a new generation. BusinessLine on Campus , a BusinessLine product, was launched eight years ago, and it has proved to be a tremendous success with students across B-schools. Last year, we expanded the scope of the website to cover disciplines such as engineering and accounting as well. On the agenda is further expansion into arts, literature, and other disciplines such as civil services, which are in need of help and support. We also took BusinessLine on Campus to print with a page every fortnight, which has been received well,” said Raghuvir Srinivasan, Editor, BusinessLine.

This edition of the BLoC Boardroom Challenge 2021 is sponsored by Aditya Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund and powered by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd while Punjab National Bank is an associate sponsor. The knowledge partners are Brand Vectors and Potential Genesis.