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SMU’s MBA team beats 90 teams across 61 countries to win top prize at the 2017 Zurich Enterprise Challenge (ZEC)

27 Sep 2017

Class of 2017 MBA students Annabellee Chua, Akshay Tatke, Zhe Hui and Serena Se Eun Park of Team Smoomba emerged champions of the 2017 Zurich Enterprise Challenge (ZEC) held in Edinburgh, Scotland on 22 September 2017, claiming victory with a successful pitch over University of Chicago Booth School of Business, who came in second place. The team, coached by Prof. Ang Ser-Keng, won the vote of attendees of the 2017 Zurich Global Risk Management Summit. The full challenge took place over a course of six months and three phases of competition eliminations.

90 teams across 61 countries participated in the 2017 ZEC, which is now into its fourth year. The ZEC is a three-phase team competition designed to offer postgraduate students worldwide, the opportunity to work directly with multinational corporations to provide solutions to existing corporate challenges. Sponsored by the Zurich Insurance Group, the challenge requires postgraduate students to implement solutions utilizing Zurich Insurance Group’s award-winning country risk assessment tool, the Zurich Risk Room.


The competition kicked off in March with 90 teams required to submit video solutions for the Phase 1 challenge. Phase 2 saw the top 20 out of 90 teams working with Zurich Insurance Group’s corporate clients, such as Mars, Lendlease, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Kimberly-Clark and Nestle, on client-specific case projects over a one-month period with multiple client touch points. SMU’s Team Smoomba was the only Asian university to make it to the Top 20 Phase 2 Teams, which included universities such as HEC Paris, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, IMD Business School and Macquarie University. The top 20 Phase 2 teams presented their work to clients via videoconference.

Phases 1 and 2 were judged by the Zurich Academic Review Board and individual client companies, based on the criteria of analysis, quality of technical work and organization of thought. The top two teams who advanced to Phase 3, on the other hand, competed on the merits of their technical work and their communication style to the attendees of the Global Risk Management Summit.

Working with Mars in Phase 2, Team Smoomba developed a risk-based framework for Mars’ businesses in Southeast Asia that allowed the team to advance to the final round of the competition. The team flew to Edinburgh to pitch their project to an audience of risk management leaders, who were corporate clients of Zurich Insurance Group.

Sharing about lessons learnt from taking part in the competition, Zhe Hui commented, “Our entire team was juggling between the requirements of the competition while continuing with our internships and classes. The key to our success was that we each focused on our strengths in the limited time we had. The most valuable lesson I learnt from my teammates was how to break down the same problem differently so as to provide a comprehensive solution.”


Last updated on 17 Oct 2017 .