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EF Academy New York team wins Hult Global Business Challenge 2015

From January 14 to 17, students from all three EF Academy schools traveled to London for the final round of the Hult Global Business Challenge, an annual competition that challenges students to come up with creative solutions to business-related scenarios.

This year, students were asked to work in teams of two to three to develop a business strategy to improve the growth and revenue of a newly promoted soccer club in the Barclays Premiere League. They needed to consider all the aspects of the global business of soccer, including PR, marketing, finance and management.

Brazil’s Renato Zimmermann and Taiwan’s Sarah Chen, IB Year 1 students from EF Academy New York, took home the grand prize after impressing Kent Jonsson, Executive Director of Hult’s London Undergraduate Campus, and Jannicke Roos, Executive Vice President of Hult’s Undergraduate Program, with their proposal of a “STAAR Initiative” for Norwich Football Club.

Their proposal concentrated on five points: upgrading the stadium, implementing new technology, establishing a training academy for new players, building an appreciation program and recruiting new players. The highlight of their presentation was an app prototype that Sarah and Renato created that would serve as an important tool to help Norwich F.C. fulfill the initiative.

“One part of the STAAR Initiative is taking advantage of technology. The app will be used as an advertisement tool and will help gain fan loyalty. The app also has a ‘live match’ function, which is interaction between the soccer players and the users of the app,” Sarah explained. “The idea is to have the registered users pay a monthly membership fee so that they have access to exclusive content, and there will be a regular raffle where they have the opportunity to win a chance to attend a monthly fan meeting with the players. So the super loyal fans will be excited about it, and the number of users will increase.”

The Hult Global Business Challenge kicked off in October when Hult visited the three campuses to present the competition. By the sign-up deadline, 123 students had indicated their interest in participating. Before winter holidays began in December, students had to present their solutions to a panel of judges that included the Head of School and a representative from Hult – in Torbay, an external businessperson was also part of the panel. The judges selected two teams from each school to travel to London for the final round of the competition held at Hult International Business School’s Ashridge Estate.

The final round

After checking in on Thursday evening, the finalists and their chaperons were invited to a dinner at the school’s on-campus restaurant. The following day, the groups prepared their case solutions and presentations and even received business advice from Hult professors. In the afternoon, they attended a public speaking seminar with the business school’s Director of Career Services and they were paired with students from the other EF Academy schools to create a five-minute presentation that answered the question, “What does an international career mean to you?” Answers ranged from traveling and being well educated, to working in an international, multi-cultural environment in their home country. They ended the day with a viewing of “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which led to discussions about culture and British humor.

The final round took place on Saturday and was followed by an announcement ceremony and a banquet dinner. As the winners of the competition, Renato and Sarah were awarded $500 (USD), a full scholarship to Hult’s Pre-University Summer program and a guaranteed Future Business Leader Scholarship of $5,000 (USD) to Hult’s Bachelor of Business Administration program. Both winners plan on enrolling in the summer program in London and combining their trip to the UK with travels throughout Europe.

“What I really got from this competition was a realistic business experience. I’m someone who doesn’t learn as much from presentations or reading books, I learn from experience. Whether I fail or succeed, the experience is important for me and being part of the competition with my teammate was a great experience. Getting to compete was more important to me than winning. Learning all that I did – from my team and from other teams – was really the greatest take away, winning was just an extra,” Renato said.

The Hult Global Business Challenge is one of several major academic competitions that EF Academy students are encouraged to participate in. In addition to allowing students to expand their knowledge within a specific field like business, the competition also gives them the unique opportunities to learn from experts, meet other bright students from around the world and learn more about their options for university.

“It was amazing and rewarding to see the growth in students’ presentation skills, poise, and confidence over the duration of our visit to Hult Business School, London. The highlight of the trip was the day we spent at the beautiful, stately Ashridge,” said Mark Niesen, EF Academy math teacher and chaperon of the two teams from New York.

Any student who is interested in participating in the 2016 edition of the Hult Global Business Challenge should keep an eye out for more information at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The competition will kick off in late September.

“We had a large number of students from Torbay work on proposals and presentations for the Hult Global Business Challenge and all of them showed their skills and maturity in the proposals that they put forward,” Chris Nicholls, Enrichment Coordinator at EF Academy Torbay, said. “In the end we had two groups go through, one from the IB program and another from the IGCSE program. All the students really enjoyed the experience of the competition and the trip to London and we all welcomed them back with a round of applause.”

About Hult’s Pre-University Summer School program

Hult’s Pre-University Summer School program brings together adventurous high school students from around the world to London and San Francisco to get a taste of university life. During the two-week program, students aged 16 to 19 gain new skills and knowledge that will be beneficial for any course of study and receive a great introduction to undergraduate life. After-school activities and cultural excursions complement the immersive learning and practical application that occur in the classroom, making for a well-rounded and inspiring academic experience that will prepare students for the next step of their academic journey.

If you’re interested in experiencing university life at Hult this summer like Renato and Sarah, you’ll find more information about the program at

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