2015 Finalist Advice & Suggestions from Judges

Judges advice to the 2015 finalist teams:

  • Every single student introduced themselves very effectively.
  • Every student showed poise, stature and polish.
  • Consistent eye contact from the presenters showed confidence in their work.
  • Each team endeavored to solve both the business aspect and the environmental aspect of the case. That's good because it's necessary for a solution which is itself sustainable. 
  • The judges were impressed that the students found time to do this work.
  • Every team and every student is a winner. The judges had to select a rank order, but every team was a winner just by virtue of being among the 5 finalists out of 28.
  • Just the fact that the students chose to do this sets them apart from others. It differentiates them for the better. The experience will serve them well.

Judges suggestions to the 2015 finalist teams:

  • Always start by clearly articulating the problem statement: what exact problem (and scope) are you solving?
  • Think carefully about whether your models and assumptions are reasonable and financially realistic.
  • If you specify the involvement of diverse stakeholder organizations in your solution (like an agency of government or an NGO) think through roles, responsibilities, and governance carefully and articulate this. Don't say the solution will involve such a third party without being ready to define its exact role, purpose, and added value.
  • If your solution is dependent upon a specific entity or organization, be sure you have fully researched it and that you know its bona fides and workings at least as well as your audience does. 
  • Although the world needs big thinkers -- and often "out of the box" thinking -- when you get down to specific recommendations for a business case don't end up being "a mile wide and an inch deep." You want your audience to be able to act upon your recommendation.
  • Be a good listener when you have been asked a question. Don't talk over top of the questioner. Don't jump the gun and come across as trying to say what you think the questioner may want to hear.
  • Make sure your presentation charts are not too busy. Just because PowerPoint enables some fancy graphics features does not necessarily mean it's a good idea to use them. Less is more. Don't flip charts with complex graphics so quickly that your audience is still trying to figure out your prior chart when you've started talking about the next one. Complex charts are usually hard to pull off.