A team from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) clinched top spot at the ACCA Hong Kong Business Competition 2012 (Degree Category) finals by proposing a non-conformist approach to promote the city’s creative industries.
This year’s event marked the first time the competition has been expanded since its debut in 2007 to include undergraduates from local universities. It was previously only open to sub-degree students.
The competition was organised by the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Hong Kong. This year, ACCA partnered with the government’s Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) to challenge teams to simulate a not-for-profit project for a company or organisation to promote local creative industries and draft an application for funding from CreateHK’s CreateSmart Initiative (CSI). More than 200 teams of local-university students joined but were eventually whittled down to just five finalists.
The champion team produced a mix of strategies designed to promote Hong Kong’s advertising sector. These included a competition, the use of QR codes in public areas to attract the attention of its target audience, and the engagement of local social enterprises. The team also took home several other awards, including Best Proposal, Most Creative Team and My Favourite Team.
Brian Kwok Chi-lok, leader of the winning team, said that while there were many business competitions for university students, they were attracted to the ACCA Hong Kong Business Competition because of its focus on the creative industries. “We thought there was more room for original ideas and it would be more interesting compared with other contests,” he said.
Kwok, together with teammates Jasper Li Chun-hei, Owen Chan Wai-hian and Cherry Wong Chi-yu, are all year-one students studying a bachelor’s degree in business administration (global business).
Wong said the team benefited from its strategy. “We learned to leverage the specific strengths of individual members,” she said. “Brian and Jasper excel at formulating proposals and using PowerPoint, [while] Jasper and I are good at generating innovative ideas through brainstorming. We have achieved good results through teamwork and effective talent allocation based on individual’s specialised areas.”
For Chan, the most enjoyable parts of the competition were the arduous nights prior to the finals during which they worked on perfecting their presentation. “We practised our parts repeatedly while continuing to fine-tune the details. We worked on the format, style and main focus in order to make ourselves stand out. The preparation was intense,” he said.
Kwok was grateful for the advice the team received from HKUST staff. “Special thanks go to Professor Emily Nason, programme director of the global business programme at HKUST, who came to our presentation rehearsal and gave plenty of useful suggestions for improvement,” he said.
Li said the team’s set-up was the key to winning. “We are all like-minded individuals. We all have innovative minds which ensured we all contributed out-of-the-box ideas to the proposal. We also had the drive to differentiate our proposal from the real project proposals that have received funding from CSI,” he said.
The requirements set for the contestants were tailored for the competition and varied from the original criteria for CSI eligibility. As the finalists were all outstanding, the judges said they faced a tough time in picking a winner. But the champions set themselves apart with their passion, said Janette Yu, partner for audit, KPMG. “The team members demonstrated good collaboration and rapport during the presentation. They articulated their ideas with clarity and great focus,” she said.
Fellow judge Ted Ho, audit partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, agreed. “The team had good stage presence. They were effective in focusing judges’ attention on the main points. Their presentation was so well structured that it naturally guided us to see the feasibility of their ideas,” he said.
Another judge, Teresa Tso, partner for financial services at Ernst & Young, thought the champions excelled at their use of body language. “For instance, they leaned towards the audience slightly to engage them effectively,” she said.
William Mak, chairman of ACCA Hong Kong, said the judges were impressed by the solid content of the champion team’s proposal. “Their written proposal and presentation comprehensively covered every detail. Although this is only a competition, the judges assessed the viability of the finalist teams’ proposals as if we would really grant funding for the successful applicants,” he said.
A member of another HKUST team, Julie Ng, picked up the prize for Best Presenter. Commenting on the award, Teresa Tso, partner for financial services at Ernst & Young, said Ng had superb command of body language and delivered her part smoothly. “Her appropriate intonation and voice projection made her stand out from the rest,” she said.
KPMG’s Yu said that Ng’s answers to questions from the judges included more concrete ideas compared with those from her peers.
Rebecca Chan, senior manager at Michael Page Hong Kong, said that for the Q&A session, contestants could have prepared themselves better by conducting rehearsals in front of professors and fellow students and seeking their advice and suggestions. “This could have helped them to identify areas neglected earlier and to better anticipate questions raised by the judges,” she said.
The competition was sponsored by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Michael Page International, PwC, and the Hung Hing Ying & Leung Hau Ling Charitable Foundation.