The MBA Competition ‘Innovation in Finance’ was held in in Zürich, Switzerland and was co-organised by SIX Financial Services, Digital Switzerland, and the University of St. Gallen.

Amar Dean and ourselves, Qiao Zhang and Subhadra Monga, from the Global Online MBA programme teamed-up with Daniel Chew from the Weekend MBA programme to represent Imperial Business School, alongside 12 other MBA schools in Europe.

From left to right: Daniel Chew, Subhadra Monga, Qiao Zhang and Amar Dean

During the competition we had to work on a real case to provide an international growth strategy for the newly formed company, SDX, the B2B digital exchange platform developed by SIX, incorporating digital ledger technology in the “Swiss way”.

The company is the innovative pioneer that will potentially drive the next wave of the financial industry.  We collaborated as a team and adopted the “white labeling” business expansion strategy. In the solution, we highlighted the rapid pace and scalability growth potential of our strategy and also took the difficulties of different countries’ regulation environments into consideration.

The competition in Zurich

The final event took place on 11 and 12 April. We reached Zurich and attended the opening night Apéro. An introduction of SDX was given by the CEO as well as a brief history of why Switzerland is the world’s most competitive economy that is attracting startups and multinational business. This was followed by networking with known names from the Swiss financial industry.

There were 12 judges to assess our proposal the next day, including the CEO of the Digital Exchange, Head of Financial Services Industry at Microsoft and Head of Blockchain at PwC.

We presented our proposal with the confidence and spirit on this international stage, representing Imperial against other MBA talents. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the final round. Three teams were selected from their inspiring solution and presentation as final candidates. They were provided an additional case by changing the scenario of the original case to develop a new strategy for SDX international expansion.

In just a few hours’ preparation time, the final competing team would have to present their strategy to the audience composed of other MBAs and the company employees, followed by being questioned by the judges on stage. While the final teams were preparing, we got the chance to visit the finance museum located in SIX and learn about the evolution of the financial industry and how innovation changed the financial landscape. We also attended a networking event, learning more about SIX and digital innovation in finance, meeting the other top European business school peers.

Thereafter, the three final teams presented in the room where the IPO of the Swiss Exchange took place. The teams were all well prepared with innovative ideas and impressive presentation skills.

Applying our MBA studies to the real world

Overall the competition provided us MBA students an opportunity to expand our knowledge about the digitisation of the financial market, an insight into futuristic finance, and a practical application of our MBA to a real world problem. We also flexed our case solving muscles and strategy development while networking with other MBA students and industry professionals.

What we learned…

An insightful piece of advice was given by the CEO of SDX who told us that the numbers behind the strategy is very important when it comes to the business modeling. We also learned from the winning team that the secret recipe for their success is all about comprehensive preparation and practice, practice, practice!