A team of five Cass Business School students won the creative component in the national final of a prestigious undergraduate competition.

Published (Updated )

Cass Business School students put their teamworking, innovation and business minds to the test as they competed against nine other university teams in the UK Grand Final of the Universities Business Challenge (UBC) Undergraduate Challenge – winning first place for the creative component section of their task.

The team of Richard Serenkov, Violet Parasheuka, Artem Abgaryan, George Mikhin and Tamirlan Rustamov qualified for the national final, after winning their regional semi-final against fellow London universities earlier this month.

The UBC Undergraduate Challenge gives students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, analytical and problem-solving skills to make strategic business decisions in a simulated workplace experience. Teams are set challenges ranging from virtual trading simulations to running fictitious businesses and planning inventive uses of smart technology.

Team Leader Richard said that teamwork and dynamic thinking were the main catalysts behind the team’s success:

“When we put the team together, we made sure that everyone had different skillsets that would contribute to our output. This nurtured a healthy level of conflict due to our diverse perspectives, and ensured that we were all focused on what we could bring to the group as individuals with absolute trust in one another.”

The semi-final saw the students running and managing a virtual coffee shop, as well as completing two creative tasks – comprised of coming up with “ridiculous” business ideas using hens and acting out a 30-second commercial for a fictional coffee shop in front of a panel.

The late decision to change the final – initially planned to be held at IBM’s London office – into an online format provided additional challenges for Richard and the team.

“Because we are an international team, we were all in different countries during the final,” Richard continued.

“Despite the circumstances we still managed to win the creative section of the challenge with our ‘worst possible idea using IBM technology’ – a headset that uses machine learning to translate pig and giraffe speech to one another and enable direct communication between the two species.

“I am really proud of our performance, and even though we didn’t win overall we have been able to develop vital skills for our careers. I’m not completely sure of the career route that I want to take after graduation just yet, but having experiences like this behind me should give me more flexibility in demonstrating my competencies to future employers.”

Business with Finance Year 1 student Violet was equally positive about the experience, which she believes has strengthened her desire for a career in finance:

“The challenge of managing a simulated business entity has made me realise that finance is definitely an area I want to pursue in my future career.

“Having opportunities like this through Cass will enhance my employability skills and help me stand out when it comes to applying for roles.”

Dr Martin Rich, Course Director of the BSc Business Management programme at Cass, said that the single biggest quality of the students was their ability to work cohesively as a team – something he believes is invaluable alongside the entrepreneurship and creativity demanded by competitions like this:

“The level of business acumen displayed by the group was highly impressive, but most of all it’s a real credit to them that they were able to work so effectively together as an adaptable and flexible unit.

“They will also have built invaluable connections with employers, which will pave the way for successful careers.

“We strongly encourage our students to take an interest in activities over and above the syllabus, especially participation in competitions and events like UBC where they can develop practical business skills.”

Find out more about undergraduate degree programmes at Cass.