• 150 students from SEA impress judges with their creativity at the ESSEC Case Competition For High School Future Leaders.
  • Teams from ACS Jakarta, International French School Singapore, and Singapore Cambodia International Academy emerged as winners.
  • Participants cite workshops by ESSEC Business School as crucial to helping them develop ideas and confidence.

There was a palpable buzz of excitement and anticipation at ESSEC Business School on 11 September as participants from the ESSEC Case Competition for Future Leaders gathered virtually and in person to present their ideas for turning Singapore and NYC-based company Confetti Snacks into a household name.

The case competition, held by ESSEC Business School in collaboration with Confetti Snacks and professional training and coaching company The Human Factor, was open to high school students across Asia.

Students had spent weeks researching and brainstorming, and for many, this final day was the first time they would speak in front of an international audience comprising students, industry experts, and ESSEC faculty. In the audience—and key to impress—was also Betty Lu, founder of Confetti Snacks.

“I was most excited to contribute to youth entrepreneurship and also to learn from the young minds of the future,” Lu says, adding that she was looking for ideas that showed an ability to think outside the box.

All 150 participants were delivered. After a difficult deliberation, 30 participating teams were whittled down to five, and three eventually emerged as winners: second runner-up, Team 15 from Singapore Cambodia International Academy; first runner-up, Team 12 from International French School; and overall champions, Team 19 from ACS Jakarta.

Creativity Takes Center Stage

What stood out the most was how the proposals hit the mark for being both comprehensive and creative. Although many proposals involved online platforms like TikTok and YouTube and collaborations with social media influencers, participants were careful to bring their ideas offline, leveraging traditional bus advertisements and real-world events for a holistic, omnichannel experience.

“The teams showed extensive research, excellent solutions with robust evidence, and presented with passion. The quality of the work was outstanding—I would not have guessed these ideas came from 15 to 17-year-olds if I had not known beforehand,” Maria Kassova, an executive coach on the panel of judges, affirms.

The Business School Experience Builds Confidence

More impressive than their age is perhaps the fact that most of the students had little to no business experience before the case competition.

“The ESSEC Business School workshops were beneficial,” Olivia Gunawan, whose team came up with the winning Charlie and the Chocolate Factory idea, explains her group’s success.

“The workshop on entrepreneurship by Julien Salanave taught us how problem-solving is at the heart of every business, and the public speaking workshop with Maria Kassova inspired us to create a presentation that would ‘wow’ the judges.”

“My team was worried that everyone would be more experienced than us, and we’d have difficulty understanding what to do. But the workshops were easy to follow and very interesting,” Julia Sizaire, from the first runner-up team, chimes in. She adds that thanks to the coaches’ guidance, her team managed to start their research process and gain the confidence to follow through with their ideas.

Echoing Olivia’s sentiments, she shares that she, too, benefited significantly from the public-speaking workshop. “Maria explained the different techniques and showed us the importance of tone and body language. I’m not comfortable with public speaking, so the knowledge gave me more confidence, and I tried to use the tips during my presentation,” she explains.

While Julia’s biggest takeaway was gaining the confidence to step out of her comfort zone, Olivia is confident that the lessons learned on problem-solving, communication, and, importantly, teamwork will be the ones that will help her the most in the future.

Whether they or any of the case competition participants go on to careers in business is a story yet to be written. Still, one thing is sure: The taste of business and victory they’ve had at ESSEC can make their journey sweeter.

Congratulations to the winning teams:

  • Overall winner: Team 19 from ACS Jakarta
    Olivia Tjindra Gunawan, Adiva Nahdi, Kaira Wynette Wibowo, Kelly Faith Tanurahardja, Nicole Huang, Emily Adrienne Yang.
  • First runner-up: Team 13 from International French School, Singapore
    Julia Sizaire. Aaron Shen, Brooklyn Monod, Claire Harel.
  • Second runner-up: Team 15 from Singapore Cambodia International Academy, Cambodia
    Chy Panhavotey, Cheng Chanvatey, Vong Chung Hen, Pen Colin, Luy Danita.

Learn more about the competition and the partners in our first event coverage.