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FS students’ participation in A4S International Case Competition (A4SICC)
FS Life / 17. April 2024
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Bachelor of Science in Management, Philosophy & Economics Class of 2025
Cloe De Leo is currently studying at Frankfurt School while employed as a Junior Innovation Consultant and is working towards a position in social impact consulting.

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Back in September 2023, Frankfurt School Community Management informed the student body about the A4S (Accounting for Sustainability) International Case Competition 2023. Hong Nhung Tran, Tobias Klinkhamels and I, Cloe De Leo, decided to apply. We believed that the A4SICC would allow the three of us to train our skills in a field that interests us deeply: sustainability and human rights.

The team and the application

From the beginning of October 2023 until the end of March 2024, our team, with the name of Apex Advisory, worked to identify, build and pitch an alternative business model for Nestlé, ranked as the 97th world’s most influential companies by the World Benchmarking Alliance, with the goal of restructuring their cocoa supply chain in the effort of ensuring transparency over human rights issues along the production and fostering higher standards of living for the people involved in it.

The first step of the competition was a so-called application: we had to come up with our idea for an alternative or modified business model, present it in a video, outline it in an executive summary and back it with a financial analysis. To reach satisfaction with our results, Nhung, Tobias and I had to meet various times – always over the phone, as I was currently enrolled in my semester abroad – to compare the outcomes of our research, discuss and argue for different possible solutions. Finally happy, we sent our material to A4S.

Reaching the semifinals

It was the end of January 2024 when we got the news that our proposal had convinced the judges and that we were moving on to the semifinals. The news filled us with joy, a bit of pride and a lot of will to keep working on our proposal. We spent the next month refining it based on the feedback received and the precious help of the mentor that we got assigned by the organisation.

During the second week of February, we faced two other teams in our semifinal round. We got to present and pitch our solution to a panel of experts internal to the matter. The stakes were high, the expertise of the teams competing against us was inspiring and our pitch was as passionate as it could get. In only a couple of days, we were invited to attend an online networking session, at the end of which the names of the teams who had reached the final stage of the competition were going to be revealed.

Through this networking session, we got the opportunity to meet an exponent of the business – and, in particular, consulting – world, who was genuinely interested in knowing what drove our decision to participate in the A4SICC.

A trip to Canada…

It is hard to describe the feeling of reaching the final stage of a case competition of the calibre of the A4SICC. For the next FS student applying to it, be prepared! Beyond the enthusiasm, thrill and satisfaction, there were some organisational matters that required our attention. In particular, how would we fly to Canada in less than 4 weeks, right on the last day of our exam week?

The weeks between the announcement of the finalists and the actual final round were filled with emails, phone calls, travel adjustments and embassy consultations. At the same time, we were studying for our exams. Finally ready and packed to go on our trip to Toronto, the whole team – who had been supporting, working and arguing with each other – fell sick.

… Or an online presentation?

Thankfully, the A4S team was kind and supportive and let us give our presentation online. Despite the disappointment of not having made it to Canada, Nhung, Tobias and I will always be grateful for the opportunity that was granted to us.

Takeaways for future FS applicants

The takeaways of this experience are uncountable: the learning curve was a very steep one, and throughout the whole six months of the competition, we worked on our proposal, deepening the research and the data backing it, receiving feedback from mentors and judges and observing the other teams while also learning from them. On top of this amazing chance to enhance our skills, we got to meet and connect with incredible personalities in the fields of human rights, business and sustainability.

We would also like to mention the Bissim Sustainability Business Game as one of the highlights of this experience: a fun and realistic opportunity to manage an entire company, with the task of prioritising environmental and social responsibility while achieving profitability and sustainability.

If our immune systems had been strong enough, we would even have enjoyed an amazing stay in Toronto, meeting the people who accompanied us on this journey in person!

We can only recommend participating in this experience to all FS students.

Co-authors

Nhung Tran

 

Nhung Tran
Bachelor of Science in Management, Philosophy & Economics Class of 2025

 

 

Nhung Tran is a student at Frankfurt School, employed at SAP, striving to enhance her skills and knowledge regarding software solutions in the field of sustainability.

Tobias Klinkhamels

 

Tobias Klinkhamels
Bachelor of Science in Management, Philosophy & Economics Class of 2025

 

 

Tobias Klinkhamels is studying at FS while growing his start-up in the renewable energy sector.

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