IN A TOUGH MARKET, EVEN a company as large as L?Oreal has to maximize resources.
The company actually hits two birds with one stone through the e-Strat Challenge?an online business and strategy competition for students.
Of the thousands of university and graduate students who have joined the contest since 2000, more than 200 have joined L?Oreal Philippines as employees and the rest at least developed a better appreciation of the brand.
?The competition is a good strategy to scout for prospective hires and, at the same time, increase awareness about L?Oreal,? said Michael Mendoza.
He should know. Mendoza was a participant in this year?s competition and formally joined L?Oreal as soon as he graduated this summer.
?In my case, I really went around shops carrying L?Oreal products to prepare for the competition,? said Jedrick Gatpayat, who belonged to the second-placed Philippine team. ?I discovered that they have products for guys also. I wouldn?t have known that otherwise.?
Research was a key part of preparing for the contest, where three-member teams use an online software to ?manage? a virtual beauty products company for two months.
In the first round, teams register online and play one round of market analysis and management decisions. About 22,000 teams register every year.
In the second to fifth rounds, the top 1,700 teams worldwide are selected to play four more rounds of market analysis and management decisions.
To win, a team must raise the company?s share price index (SPI), which includes brand market shares, the firm?s revenues, the quality of R&D, as well as consumer satisfaction.
Participants are asked to make strategic decisions, taking into consideration sustainable performance, and are measured at each round based on their SPI.
This year?s Philippine representative was Team Bluepreneurs?management economics students John Aaron Basilio, Man Man Wong and Virgilio Bordeos?from Ateneo.
Second place was Team GTG?management engineering students Lance Lerrick Co and Jedrick Gatpayat, with management economics student Marc Aldrich Gopal.
Third Place was Team Middleground?management students Ralvin Cailles and Joseph Yap, with Maria Therese Boniface Roxas, communications technology management.
In the semifinals, the top 300 teams worldwide are tasked to write their business plans. In the final round, eight undergraduate and eight graduate student-teams make business plans and defend these before a panel of L?Oreal top managers in Paris, France.
First place in the undergraduate category went to Canada?s Team 3trickhorse from York University. Taiwan?s Team TSL from National Cheng University won in the graduate category.
Mendoza said L?Oreal is so happy with the consistently good performance of Philippine entries that it is working on getting more universities to participate. Currently, Ateneo de Manila, La Salle and University of Asia and the Pacific regularly compete.
?We are working on more university tie-ups to increase participation from other schools starting with next year?s edition of e-Strat,? Mendoza said. ?It would be a good opportunity for students as well so we hope more schools will join.?