The second Tuesday of [email protected] was a busy one. With the degree of uncertainty and improvisation that is often necessary in the running of a business, the students were put to the test throughout the day with a series of YFCD role plays. Having now taken in the majority of lessons shared through the programme’s lectures, the students dealt admirably with the intense workload of the day, coming out of the meat grinder a stronger team, altogether.
Not known for giving their students much time to rest, the programme then had quite the surprise in store for their young business managers. Advertised as an amicable meet-and-greet with one of the company’s most important German clients, the team had to face many twists and turns in over the course of the interaction. For the sake of keeping the secrets of the YFCD programme as they are, this blog cannot disclose specific details on the challenges the teams had to face. However, suffice to say that across the board the teams kept a cool head, were creative and resourceful when thinking on their feet, performing with honours in this trial by fire.
Having demonstrated skills and characteristics suggesting good hands holding the future of Maywood cycles, it was time for the students to prove their endurance and resilience with the last test of the day. Whereas in previous role plays there was an obvious leader in the team that needed to take charge (for example, the CFO needed to drive the banker’s meeting), the “televised” BBC interview was an instance where each cog of the YFCD leadership had to take equal share of the responsibility, and the team therefore had to demonstrate their ability to work as a team. This was a real test, as team dynamics varied from one team member grabbing the microphone after each question, to more effective teams trusting each other in such a way that each member answered the question their role and expertise leant themselves most to. In addition, the fact that this was the third role play of that day meant that fatigue played a part, something our mischievous counsellors-turned-interviewers took full advantage of. Clips of the best ‘slips of the tongue’ will be shared during the closing ceremony!
Having finished the formal commitments of what was a physically and mentally exhausting day, the students were given a well-deserved late-afternoon off. Although many did choose to take advantage and catch up on some sleep, the group was yet again remarkably energetic given the prospect of a free few hours to do whatever they pleased. This culminated in what proved to be a rather comedic visit to the nearby public pool. A group of students led by two apprehensive counsellors paid for their entry, only to find out that not only was the pool indoors, to go in one needed to be wearing appropriate swimwear (speedos and a swim cap). The group deserves credit for not admitting defeat, with many purchasing the necessary swimwear, not to be beaten by what is in fact ordinary French custom.
Future Careers Presentation
The day ended with two optional sessions run for the students in the evening. The first of these was a presentation of the future of work and careers, run by INSEAD staff member Agnès Cosnier-Loigerot. With many of the students desperate for more of an idea of what line of work they wanted to get into, and how to get there this session proved a very useful addition to the day. However, given that the greatest disruptors of the future will apparently be AI, robotics, automation and data, the kids are going to need to work on their computing!
Finally, Adrian Johnson treated the programme to an informal start-up work shop to finish the day off. Despite the voluntary nature of the session, it was great to see so many in attendance, reflecting both the curiosity around Adrian’s business background, as well as the inspiring entrepreneurial ambitions of the group. After a presentation from the programme leader on the essentials of entrepreneurship, Max from Finland gave us some insight into the start-up he works for with his brother, followed by some contributions from Hector (also from Finland), Denis (from Russia), Adrianos (from Greece). Then the session turned into a bit of a workshop where the students were given the chance to think about the companies they dreamed of founding. When asked to present their own ideas, 10 wonderfully creative and insightful projects came out, with ideas ranging from digital business cards to a business that ensured supply of jeans that fit properly! Here at INSEAD, we deal with the real issue! After being given some time to perfect their pitch, the groups presented their business idea in some more detail –consumer base, features—and the audience got the chance to vote on their favourite project. The winning team, led by Claire, will be looking to introduce a platform for peer-review aimed at high-school students, a service that is, apparently, in huge demand.
Everyone at [email protected] is hugely proud of, and impressed with, the students, who got through what was a very demanding day; good spirits and big smiles throughout, something we have come to grow used to. It was a pleasure watching them deal with so many challenges, work so well as a team, and have time to think and plan so passionately for the future, as well.