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Student contest puts focus on personal branding and creativity

How can you stand out in an ultra competitive business environment? Classified Post, in partnership with MetLife Hong Kong, takes an “out of the box” approach to engaging tech-savvy tertiary-level students so they can bring their personal branding to life and pitch their creative ideas.

The “Discover a Better Future” video marketing competition has attracted around 200 participants. In the competition, four-member student teams from diverse disciplines are tackling the challenge of identifying and showcasing creative and effective ways of building a personal brand. They will do this by collaborating on the production of innovative videos up to two minutes long.

A series of workshops and team-building activities are also being organised to inspire the participants and provide useful guidance.

In addition, the event’s premium partner MetLife Hong Kong, which has been named Insurance Company of the Year at the BENCHMARK Wealth Management Awards 2018, has assigned each team an agency leader to mentor and advise the students throughout the process.

The competition kicked off with a “Fun Experience Day” at the Wave in late March, where nearly 80 teams met their mentors for the first time. The full-day event featured an ice-breaking session followed by team-building exercises, a virtual reality “Bomb Disposal” game, as well as sessions for sharing experiences and debriefing.

There was a palpable sense of youthful energy and enthusiasm as hundreds of students huddled together in small groups, taking turns to use VR devices to “defuse a bomb” and offering each other tips and hints.

The mentors were also ready to offer assistance when needed, and they joined in the laughter and excitement. From the podium, a designated instructor first explained the game and reminded participants of attributes such as integrity that all companies appreciate.

Other elements considered vital for a successful career were also incorporated in the day’s activities; the different games, for example, were conducive to relationship building.

“The games enabled the teams to build trust, create bonds and, overall, enhance personal relationships in a happy environment,” said Stephanie Wong, director and head of agency talent development for MetLife Hong Kong. “The core message was that they should think out of the box. Through such activities, students learn how to work well as a team and be creative.”

The MetLife agents assigned as team mentors were chosen for their leadership skills and known excellence in influencing customers with their professional knowledge and the positive image they portray. These, of course, are important elements for successful personal branding.

“The team debriefing session was also vital to ensure everyone took home the key messages and had a chance to share their insights,” Wong said. “We were encouraged to see that the students were fully engaged in the activities and enthusiastic about sharing their creative ideas.”

Many of those who took part were quick to say they found the day’s activities inspiring in many respects.

For instance, Adilet Abduvaliev from Kyrgyzstan, a first-year economics student at the University of Hong Kong, was impressed by how effectively the games helped to build team spirit.

“It was all about collaboration,” Abduvaliev said. “For optimal results, we assigned different tasks to individual team members based on their specific strengths. Our mentor, Abby Cheung, gave helpful guidance. Initially, we got very excited and came up with lots of ideas, but she reminded us that the solutions should be practical.”

Trista Tian, a first-year marketing student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, echoed those views.

“The games encouraged us to collaborate and build trust, which also enhanced our two-way communication,” she said. “It’s about listening attentively, asking questions, and giving the right responses. Our mentor, Stanley Cheung, helped us to focus on the big picture and organise our ideas so as to arrive at the ideal solutions.”

South Korean Jin Youngseok, who studies creative media at City University of Hong Kong, felt the day provided useful new insights on marketing.

“Initially, I thought the atmosphere would be competitive, but everyone turned out to be friendly and we all had fun.”

For the mentors, the Fun Experience Day proved to be similarly rewarding. For example, it showed Abby Cheung that each successive generation has its shared “language”, along with notions that may not at first be easily understood by others.

“We need to make an effort to listen attentively and analyse the information we hear,” she said. “I always enjoy interacting with people in different age groups, learning about the characteristics they share and what makes them unique. This helps to optimise communication.”

Stanley Cheung was quite surprised by the level of creativity and perseverance the students showed.

“In the paper cutting game, we initially thought it might be impossible to achieve the intended result,” he said. “But I was impressed how my group persevered despite some failures. With mutual trust in one another, they eventually completed the task and came up with creative solutions. My role was to provide guidance and support to help them realise their full potential.”

Candy Cheung likened her role as a mentor to being the captain of a ship who relies on the unique strengths of individual crew members to ensure smooth sailing.

“Throughout the day, I encouraged the students to ask one another more questions. After each session, they reviewed the process and made improvements. I appreciated the fact that each team member had certain strengths and was willing to collaborate to achieve the common goals.”

Attractive prizes await the winners at the end of the competition. For instance, the champion team will win a cash prize of HK$40,000, with HK$24,000 for the first runner-up and HK$10,000 for second runner-up. All participants will receive certificates to mark their achievements.

A presentation skills workshop on presentation skills was held in April, and the final will take place on May 25.