We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
I was elated to be part of one of the teams selected in the top 5 finalists for the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge. Following the announcement, our team banded together to strategize a winning plan of action. We had to take our "RBC+" socially responsible investing solution for using big data to the next level!
When the week of the competition finally arrived, I think my team members and I were all both nervous and excited. The anticipation grew in the days leading up to our final moment of truth. We had spent many late evenings preparing and practicing our pitch, and were about to deliver it to top executives from the Royal Bank of Canada at their corporate headquarters in Toronto.
When January 17th finally arrived, we entered the boardroom, and I became surprisingly relaxed. The experience was far less daunting and dramatic than I had built it up to be in my mind. Our pitch played out like clockwork - we left it all on that enormous table!
The executives were friendly and encouraging, and gave us immediate feedback that was very promising. They applauded our solution's focus on the customer, consideration of the role of RBC employees, and integration of the challenge question. As we thanked the judges and left the boardroom, I felt that in a way, we had already won.
Standing in the lounge room waiting for the judges to arrive, I felt like we were contestants in a reality TV show competition - from the extended wait as the judges completed their final deliberations, to the moment they apologized for the delay as a result of the a tough decision, to finally announcing our fate.
They began by revealing the three teams that would be awarded finalist prizes of $3,000. As each team name was called, I felt the anticipation and thrill of winning grow! Once I realized our team had not been called after three rounds of pictures and finalist trophy awards, the elation of being in the top two finalists set in. That was in and of itself a big win for us.
When they announced our second place win, the judges reiterated how difficult it was for them to arrive at the final decision. Our sincerest congratulations go to the Rotman School of Business for having prevailed through such a close battle!
Lunch followed the competition. The detailed, positive feedback we received from the judges over lunch was worth more than any ranking. It was an overall tremendously memorable experience that has set the tone for our careers as innovators in the business world!