Schulich team tops in RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge

A team of fourth-year bachelor of business administration (BBA) and international BBA students at York’s Schulich School of Business took home the top prize at the national finals of the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge earlier this month.

Students Shirley Soon, Riddhi Sen and Jan-Lukas Wolf, who called their team 4th Fibonacci, competed against some of the best undergraduate and MBA teams from across Canada to win $20,000 by defeating the second-place team from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. 

More than 100 teams from business schools across Canada entered the competition, including teams from the University of Toronto’s Joseph L. Rotman School of Management and Queen’s University.

Right: Shirley Soon (left), Jan-Lukas Wolf and Riddhi Sen

The innovator challenge required each team to “suggest innovative methods or tactics to transform the workplace to match the needs of an evolving and increasingly diverse workforce.” The Schulich team’s winning submission, “RBC Connect”, was an enterprise 2.0 extension of RBC’s intranet to enable real-time employee interaction, foster collaboration and facilitate sharing of expertise.

“The strength of their proposal, combined with their stellar presentation in front of a panel of RBC executives, set them apart in a tough field of finalists,” competition sponsors RBC said of the winning team.

Left: The RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge award winners Shirley Soon (fourth from left), Riddhi Sen and Jan-Lukas Wolf are presented with a $20,000 cheque

The five teams who made it to the finals had 15 minutes to present their ideas inside the RBC boardroom to a judging panel comprised of senior RBC executives, who then engaged the teams in a 15-minute Q-&-A session. Teams were judged on their written proposals as well as their presentations, and were rated according to the quality of the following criteria: executive summary, description of the future state of the workplace, description of the proposed innovation or concept, implementation plan, originality and creativity of the idea, and overall viability. 

Several Schulich faculty members helped 4th Fibonacci on their way to victory, including Schulich management science Professor Ron McClean, who answered technical questions regarding the implementation of their proposal to update RBC’s intranet.

The team also made a trial presentation of their proposal to four Schulich faculty members – marketing Professor Eileen Fischer, the Anne & Max Tanenbaum chair in Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise; organizational behaviour  & industrial relations Professor Pat Bradshaw; policy Professor Theo Peridis; and finance Professor Elizabeth Maynes. The faculty members challenged the team with the sort of rigorous questions they could expect to receive from the panel of RBC executives. Fischer spent additional time with the team, providing feedback on their revised presentation and helping them to prepare for their Q-&-A session.

For more information, visit the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge Web site.