Roberto Jimenez '09 Wins Major Business Competition in India
If there were a decathlon for business students, Roberto Jimenez '09 just took home the gold. Jimenez, who is spending the fall studying abroad in India, won a grueling three-day-long contest to find India's "next CEO." The Numero Uno competition, held October 10-12 in Bangalore, pitted 20 top students from Indian business schools plus three international students against each other in a series of trials on leadership, strategy, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, athletics, and presentation skills.
"The event was very competitive — Numero Uno is a really big deal for Indian MBAs," said Jimenez. "The other contestants were some of the smartest people I have ever been around. They were very sharp, particularly with numbers, and many of them interned at the biggest international banks and consulting firms. I certainly didn't expect to win."
Leading up to the contest, participants were asked to blog about emerging economies, corporate citizenship, and entrepreneurship. They then assembled at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore for the actual competition. On day one, the contestants had to compete in a seven hour marathon of MarkStrat, a simulation game that tests skills in marketing. That night, the group watched a "case movie" on a start-up technology firm, and then had to come up with a presentation to venture capitalists for the following morning. For the morning of day two, the competitors formed teams in order to complete a number of physical tasks: lifting and placing tires onto a tall vertical pole, building the highest antenna, and rock climbing. "The idea was to test our skills in working with groups," Jimenez said. "Luckily, I was well prepared by SOM course such as Managing Groups and Teams, and Interpersonal Dynamics."
The main event took place the afternoon of the second day. Each contestant was handed 5,000 rupees and given five hours to go out into the streets and make money. "We couldn't use cell phones and were not allowed to speak with anyone we knew," Jimenez said. "I worked with four other contestants on a strategy to sell khadi bags — we bought 35 of them at a bazaar market and then took these to the main shopping street in Bangalore. We hawked the majority for 200 rupees, but as time faded away we dropped the price to 100 rupees. We made 3230 rupees in profit. I was a street vendor — competing against the drum seller, the magazine hawker, and the flower lady. It was so much fun."
For the final day, all contestants had to give presentations on their selling techniques. And then six finalists gave one-minute pitches on any topic before a packed auditorium. "I was alone on stage with a spotlight shining on me," Jimenez said. "The questions were tough and included knowledge of the Indian business environment and global business ethics. It was essentially the State and Society class back at SOM. My pitch was what I learned about myself during the Careers class and the Leadership Development Program of my first year at SOM."
The judges convened for an hour, and when they came out, they awarded Jimenez the victory. He won about $3,000 and a certain amount of celebrity on campus. Asked why he came out on top, Jimenez paid tribute to SOM. "The fact that I won this competition is another example of how the new SOM curriculum is preparing us in a well-rounded manner," he said. "It is teaching us to think like a CEO, with a clear view from the top. It also speaks about how our curriculum is teaching us to create bridges across boundaries — cultural, national and organizational."