SMU Team Cognitare emerge champions of the McDonough Business Strategy Challenge 2020 in Washington, D.C.

SMU’s Team Cognitare, comprising Daryl Peng (year 3, BBM and BAcc), Tan Shi Wei (year 2, BBM), Winna Leow (year 2, BBM) and Yang Shuqi (year 2, BSc Econ), is the first Asian team to clinch the championship title from this year’s McDonough Business Strategy Challenge, organised by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, from Washington D.C, USA.  They stood out among 22 participating universities hailing from nine countries worldwide.

The McDonough Business Strategy Challenge (MBSC) is one of the largest undergraduate international business case competition in the US focused on delivering strategies to non-profit organisations and fostering the growth of future business leaders who are passionate about serving our communities. With limited resources, different legal requirements and no profit incentive, cases pertaining to non-profit organisations pose greater challenge to competitors as compared to traditional for-profit organisations.

At this year’s competition, held from 4 to 9 February 2020, MBSC introduced teams to CARE International, one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organisations focused on fighting global poverty in 95 countries. Students were given 34 hours to analyse CARE’s extensive organisational structure and challenged to present a unique platform solution to help CARE scale their global operations and programmes to achieve greater global impact, by transitioning CARE from a pipeline to platform business model.

SMU Team Cognitare impressed the judges with their innovative strategy of giving more power and resources to communities, by developing a platform that connects local NGOs with SMEs, volunteers, and donors, encouraging greater innovation and giving local NGOs greater autonomy to spearhead localised initiatives. The team believed that with such a strategy, CARE International will be able to reach out to more communities with a larger number of more effective programmes, thereby creating greater impact.

In addition to their exceptional strategy and comprehensive plan, Team Cognitare displayed excellent teamwork in the delivery and engagement of their final presentations, allowing them to come in first in their division and advance to the finals. Facing off against five top teams in the final round, Team Cognitare, which eventually emerged victorious, was commended by judges and participating schools for their excellent presentation and the depth of their proposal.

Team Leader, Daryl Peng, was proud of the team’s achievement. “This is the first time Team Cognitare is participating in the McDonough Business Strategy Challenge, and our first-time consulting for non-profit organisations on a competitive level. Navigating the complexities of CARE’s business model in the context of a large non-profit organisation with independent subsidiaries spanning across multiple countries was a new but meaningful challenge for the team.”

“I am glad that despite being new to the competition, we managed to empathise with CARE’s mission and present a solution that CARE believes in. We are grateful to everyone who advised and encouraged us in our preparation for the competition. The team’s success would not have been possible without the guidance of Cognitare members, advising professors and LKCSB’s constant support,” he added.