The first proper YFCD day! Finally, after weeks and weeks of speculation, anticipation, and preparatory reading, the role play simulation has begun- and what a day it has been. Imagine the frantic, manic chaos of taking over a company, meeting all of its employees electronically, fighting fires on a thousand different fronts, and, on top of all the anxiety of moving a failing company in a new, positive direction, taking on THREE role-plays with our loving counsellors. And now imagine doing that all in one day. What a day it has been.
The day began with the excitement of the first role-play session of the simulation: the negotiation over the acquisition of the company (something the students had prepared extensively for). Waiting in their designated offices, the different teams were licking their lips at taking the sellers for a ride, ready to boast to their colleagues over who had managed to close the deal with the lowest price and the most favourable terms looking forward. To some extent, the teams proved that they had been paying attention in the preparatory lectures, and that the team-dynamics between the different students had been working well. Polite and professional with the role-playing counsellors, passionate and energetic when communicating their vision for the company, stern and informed when covering the different discussion points, by and large the students demonstrated many valuable qualities in a prospective negotiator.
Mind you, none of the deals were perfect. Many groups focussed on getting a good price and did not focus on how they were going to structure the refinancing of the loan supporting the acquisition (did somebody say bankruptcy). Others were distracted by superficial talking points (enter the honorary Maywood memorial museum), rather than focussing on some of the core terms of discussion (e.g. reps and warranties against skeletons in closet). However, the most important fact about this morning’s exercise is the fact that each deal was different and that all the students’ learnt a tonne along the way. There is no doubt that this learning will continue as the teams attempt to resolve some of the pickles they’ve got themselves into, now stuck with the deals struck in the simulation.
In true Summer@INSEAD style, the break between roleplays was filled with busy attendance to a wave of emails, with each member of the team inundated with introductions from keen colleagues, propositions about changes to the company, demands of job security and salary raises, all on top of crisis management such as stolen cars from previous management and server crashes communicated by IT. It was probably at this moment that the students began to wonder what they had gotten themselves into (I would be lying if I said I didn’t hear attempted resignations at a particularly heated moment of COO firefighting).
No time to worry about resignation; next up was a visit from the local banker who wanted reassurance that the company was not going to drop below their overdraft facility which was coming ever-so-worryingly closer. Amongst the most technical of the roleplays the teams were going to take on, the different groups demonstrated a wonderful capacity to think on the spot, with each requiring to come up with creative solutions regarding how the company was going to gain control of their financial incomings and outgoings in a sustainable manner. Such calmness and creativity was also of utmost importance for their dealing with German client Alex Schongstein, who met up with the different groups in “Stansted Airport” to discuss an order that had been placed that needed urgent attention.
In the interest of maintaining the anonymity of the programme and the mystique and secrecy of the demands of YFCD, this blog post will not go into further detail over the demands of each role-play, and will instead include some reflections from the students involved (feel free to drill the students yourselves in person, when given the chance!):
“Today was our first YFCD simulation, we acquired Maywood company and again learned how important communication is. We could have done better when it comes to the payment schedule but you learn from it. The day was very stressful, we had to handle many emails. But we managed to Organise ourselves by writing everything on the white board in order to get a clear overview of what we have to do, which problems we have to solve, the request we get, and status updates on important things as Emily’s Bentley. One thing that really surprised me was the realness of it, as the emails and the meeting where we had to meet an angry customer and solve a problems quickly. However I think that our group did pretty good we managed to solve the problems calmly but even under pressure while being calm at the same time. I‘m really happy and impressed with our first YFCD simulation and I’m looking forward to it”
“Today was a very stressful but productive day. I collected some insight on the functions of a new company and how to effectively distribute tasks, queries and goals to be as efficient as possible under a lot of time pressure while still ensuring that every member is aware of the situatuon. We do have some regrets in the negotiation aspect, however, it was vital to learn from these mistakes and understand their consequences to grow as a company (and of course use it in our future lives). On the other hand, I was proud of my team as we had done a lot of reading on the company and its “cons” that helped us to stand strong in negotiations.”
“The search for the answers of the screaming banker is rooted in logic, but also the irregular creativity that can be displayed on occasion, a very highly complex order that arose from the panic of five kids stuck in a room flooding with uncertainty. But hey, that’s business!”
The final session organised for the day involved a visit from Agnes Cosnier-Loigerot and Thibaut Seguret, who, together, spoke about the jobs for the future and how this applies to the students. The first part of the lecture involved an introduction of what a career looked like in the latest generations of the modern workforce. The group were introduced to the concept of “multi-careering”, described as the next best thing, and ere informed how to do this effectively. The main piece of advice was to take advantage of the fact that hard and soft skills are becoming ever-more transferrable, making the possibility of changing industries more appealing, and to be aware of the need to build a storyline that is consistent throughout the way.
The pair then discussed how INSEAD looks to prepare its students for the challenge of finding and attaining their dream jobs. The programmes the group prepare, as part of the HR department in INSEAD, look to find out what skills recruiters are interested in now, what experience is recommended, and what mindset is needed to succeed throughout. Results from the “kahoot” knowledge quiz set up for the students afterwards confirms the fact that the students really engaged and learned a lot from this talk.