Meet ABL, the San Francisco Wharton EMBA team that placed fourth in the global L’Oreal e-Strat competition this year among 15,000 teams worldwide. As general manager of a virtual cosmetics company, Xiaoying (Alice) Zhang, WG’08, Loren Simon, WG’08, and Bolaji Olutade, WG’08 rolled out a product development and marketing strategy that earned them first place for Zone 6, which includes the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and solidified their place with seven other teams at the competition finals in Paris.
ABL team member Zhang says that the international diversity of their team (Zhang is Chinese, Simon is American, and Bolaji is Nigerian) played a critical role in the formation of their strategy, which was to provide top-quality cosmetic products to women of different colors around the world. She tells us more about the team’s experience.
"In Paris we had the opportunity to meet and network with MBA talents from other parts of the world — Switzerland, England, Taiwan, Brazil, India, Russia and Turkey. It was a tremendously refreshing experience to get out of a US-centric world and be showered by creative thinking, management insights, and state-of-the-art work from Europe, South America and Asia. We were also proud to represent the entire Wharton school in such a world forum. The defining moments were definitely when people came up and equated our high quality work to Wharton.
"I first heard about the game from a friend, and I thought it would be interesting to put together a team to enter the competition. I spoke with Loren, who has consulted in the retail industry and has lots of industry knowledge, and we decided to enter the competition. But we needed a numbers guy, and that’s where Bolaji came in. When our team came together, we were eager to test how well we measured up to the rest of the world’s MBAs.
"We were surprised to win first place in our zone to become one of eight winning teams. And, of course, we were so glad that we found an excuse to escape to Paris from the hectic daily schedule, to do some partying, make some new friends, and enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
"I have to say this was the most efficient and effective team experience I’ve ever had. Our team strictly adhered to spending no more than three hours every week and made the time spent most productive and fruit bearing. Obviously, the Wharton MBA Exec program trained us how to accomplish such a mission impossible from day one!
"For MBA Exec students generally, juggling a full-time job and an MBA education is never an easy task. But that does not mean that you shouldn’t try to do some extracurricular activities."
Click here for more on the L’Oréal e-Strat competition.