Tuck team wins international policy and business challenge

by Eileen Brady | 2/28/19 2:55am

A team of students from the Tuck School of Business was awarded first prize in the Global Universities Challenge at the World Government Summit in Dubai this month. The competition asked participants to craft a 10-year plan for the sustainable development of the fictional Middle Eastern country of “Urmania,” according to executive director of the Tuck’s Center for Business, Government and Society John McKinley, who served as the faculty adviser for Tuck’s challenge team.

The invite-only challenge brought students from 19 top graduate programs in public policy, government relations, political science and business administration together to design creative solutions to international problems, according to the Global Universities Challenge. Participating institutions included Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as other prestigious graduate programs from around the world.

The GUC is a focal point of the four-day World Government Summit, a conference dedicated to “shaping the future of governments worldwide,” according to the World Government Summit website. This is the second year that Tuck students attended the summit, but the first year they were invited to participate in the challenge. Tuck’s WGS delegation included the five-member challenge team, three other students, and McKinley.

According to McKinley, the challenge team attended summit activities during the day and worked tirelessly on their GUC presentation at night, often beginning in the evening and ending around midnight.

When it came time to present, teams were judged by a panel of high-level government and business individuals on four categories: novelty and innovation, impact and comprehensiveness, viability and feasibility, and presentation.

The team’s strategy focused on the Urmania’s human capital, appealing to the fictional nation’s various ethnic groups, according to Melina Sanchez Montanes Tu’20, a member of the challenge team. They sought to combine the best of both the public policy and business realms in their solution.

She added that their approach was three-pronged: first they sought to stabilize the nation after years of civil war and unrest, then to connect the people, reengaging the general population in the economy, and finally to transform the country’s economy to fit the demands of the 21st century.

Chris Ramos Tu’19, who attended the summit as an additional delegate, said he believes what set the Tuck team apart was its ability to explain the broader implications of their plan rather than focusing on the individual level.

“I think where we really shined was in looking at the macro, broader picture of trying to implement policies and that we’re both like tangible on smart, like pegging the currency to the U.S. dollar to mitigate inflation,” he said.

Sanchez Montanes said that attending the summit helped the students make their case.

“[During the summit], you hear from high level policy makers, politicians and business people around the world, and being able to participate in those sessions with other student was super valuable,” Sanchez Montanes said. “Actually, those sessions and what we learned throughout gave us a lot of good ideas for our case competition, and we incorporated those ideas into our final presentation.”

While team members were focused on their plan for Urmania, other student delegates focused more on networking, according to Ramos.

The many high-profile conference attendees provided opportunities to build relationships and bring different perspectives back to Tuck, Ramos said. Attendees heard from speakers like Christine Lagarde, director and chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund and enjoyed a meal with New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu.

“He was very gracious with his time; he answered questions and was very interested that we were from [New Hampshire],” Ramos said, adding that they hope to bring Sununu to Tuck to speak in the near future. “He seemed pretty amenable, so we’re just like trying to figure out the scheduling logistics, essentially.”

Additional delegates also helped the challenge team whenever possible, giving advice based on their own past experiences and expertise. Challenge participants could also contact Tuck faculty back in Hanover, a resource which McKinley said proved to be invaluable.

“Students were allowed to be in contact with professors at Tuck, and they were really willing to respond and engage,” he said, emphasizing the rapidity with which Tuck faculty responded to students’ questions.

Tuck’s victory was announced to a crowd of over 4,000, Sanchez Montanes said, adding, “it felt very grandiose and official.”

McKinley said the win was not only a win for the five students, but for Tuck and the whole Dartmouth community.

“Our mission at Tuck is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business,” McKinley said. “We do that by encouraging students to cultivate confident humility, empathy and judgment. The Global University Challenge provided a fantastic opportunity for our students to apply those skills in practice.”