Data challenge sums up UC’s business leadership talent

University of Canterbury (UC) Masters students showed off their skills in a competition that challenged them to use data to solve problems and develop business savvy strategies.

  • UC MBA 2IC
    Team Subway were awarded a $6,000 prize for their data driven initiative to attract highly skilled tech professionals to Christchurch as part of the hi-tech supernode challenge.

With high-profile judges including IBM New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Smith, UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey, and ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive Joanna Norris, the UC Masters in Business Administration Insight Initiative Challenge (2IC) was a chance for participants to use the knowledge they have gained from the new six-week course to respond to industry-based tasks.

The key industries covered were food and fibre and advanced manufacturing supernodes, and local business attraction. The challenge questions were set by economic development agency ChristchurchNZ.

UC signed a memorandum of understanding with ChristchurchNZ recently expressing the University’s commitment to growing its impact on the development of the city, Professor de la Rey says.

“The ideas were innovative and engaging and the presentations were convincing. The timing of the 2IC coincides with the recent MoU signing between UC and ChristchurchNZ and it shows how we can do more when we come together.”

Nine teams competed for three “Sebastian and Fernando” prizes of $12,000 in total sponsored by UC MBA Data Informed Strategy course facilitators, Isuru Fernando from Google NZ and Arun Sebastian, who is Chief Financial Officer for IBM New Zealand.

Team Subway won the challenge with their data driven initiative to attract highly skilled tech professionals to Christchurch as part of the hi-tech supernode challenge.

Elle Archer, Managing Director of ELG Global – a SMART Development company and a member of the winning team, says 2IC tested the team in collaborative design thinking.

“We worked hard, we prepped harder, and we were pleased with the results. We were not in it to win a prize, we were passionate about creating a sound concept that the city of Christchurch could utilise in boosting our economy, employment, and partnerships.

“UC is leading the way with this new MBA, and our hopes are that we come away with the tools we need to be business leaders, for today, and tomorrow.”

Team Aices were runners-up with their solution to tackle Canterbury’s manufacturing challenges and Team Hi-Tech Christchurch won the “Wow” factor prize positioning telehealth as a local business growth opportunity for Christchurch.

Smith, also a UC MBA graduate, says all of the teams were amazing and covered a lot of ground especially in proposing solutions to the challenge of data aggregations within and across industries.

Norris says she will be able to draw useful insights from many of the solutions she saw over the weekend.

“The teams did well to identify local capabilities and strengths in Canterbury and leverage these in areas where this are global growth opportunities. You are the leaders of the future.”

MBA Director Associate Professor Chris Vas says the 2IC was an intensive experience that challenged students and was a fitting finale for the newly launched Data Informed Strategy course, which has had invaluable input from industry leaders.

“The participants are people who already have extensive business or scholarly experience so there is an incredibly high standard. This weekend really tested their skills and showed what they’ve learned about the technologies and analytic approaches that can be used to convert data into insights that will solve problems and create strategy.”