Mahindra War Room Season 10

Article contributed by Ambrose Tey

“The best lessons are learnt outside the lecture hall” – this is what I believe in. The value in an MBA is truly found when you synthesize all the classroom learnings to compete with the brightest minds on a global stage. Mahindra War Room was the very first competition in our MBA journey. Needless to say, I was rather enthusiastic about it even though the first round coincides with our Trimester 1 examinations.

The competition is organized by Mahindra Group from India, involving live business cases to be solved by MBA students from top business schools. Preparations for the qualifying round in Singapore was an exhausting yet rewarding experience. My team (Jamie, Roman, Pravin and I) was having late night meetings, while studying for the examinations. The live business case we have chosen was tough, requiring crazy amount of research. Fortunately, we have Jamie, who was a thoroughbred specialist in research and finance, to back us up. And so, we battle on!

The first round of competition was held in Nanyang Business School, we were honored to have several top executives from Mahindra Group as our judges. Their presence was both encouraging and daunting at the same time; knowing that we are tackling a real problem faced by the company. I have to say that we were all excited and nervous, given the amount of hard work we had put in. During our presentation, I thought we were doing pretty well (seeing the constant nods of approval from the judges) until Roman took the stage. No, he did not disappoint us. Instead, he took the level of competition over the top as he dazzles everyone present in the hall. When he was done, I knew in my heart that the battle was won. And indeed, we did!

The stage was set, and we flew to Mumbai 3 weeks later for the grand finale. Pravin and I were in Shanghai for our Business Study Mission, and flew via Singapore to Mumbai. It was nearly midnight when we arrived, and that was when disaster struck! Now, I have flown gazillion times and had never met any major misfortunes other than short delays. We were knackered and just wanted to get sufficient sleep for the competition in the morning. However, my luggage was nowhere to be seen at the belt carousel. Apparently, it was still sitting joyously in Singapore, waiting for the next flight out. I will have nothing to put on for the presentation, besides my suit jacket and pants.

Now imagine having to wear your teammate’s oversized shirt, ridiculously-colored tie and moist shoes for a presentation you had spent weeks working on. It may not have been very pleasant, but it was definitely a rare experience nonetheless. On the bright side, I consider myself lucky that Pravin had spares for everything. I am forever grateful.

Back to business. Let me start off by saying that the most valuable element in any competition is the networking opportunity. Not only did we get to exchange ideas with top executives and acclaimed professors, but we also learned from other brilliant MBA students from all over the world. The second most valuable element is the experience that adds to individual growth factor. Put it this way, every team has put immense effort to solve every live business problem – and we get to see all of it in one day. You will never grow as fast or as much in any other way. In that regard, we all came away as winners even though we were not victorious in the grand finale.

Personally, I am both deeply humbled and honoured to have represented Nanyang Business School in the global arena. I strongly encourage all prospective students to embrace competitions such as this to enrich your Nanyang MBA experience.

On behalf of my team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers and Professor Vijay Sethi for the encouragements they have given throughout the entire time. Special thanks to Ms. Rachel Ng and Ms. Ong Ming Hui for working tirelessly behind the scenes to support us.