Mariana and Ricardo, the students who triumphed in EAE’s Brand Challenge
04 de June de 2020
04 de June de 2020
Within the world of communication, public speaking has always been the star of the show which, among other reasons, is due to the capacity of speaking eloquently to be one of the most persuasive mediums for achieving any goal. At EAE Business School, we are well aware of this fact and, with this in mind, we constantly organize events designed to foster and strengthen our students’ discourse skills.
One of the most interesting of these events is the Brand Challenge, a competition in which students prepare and present an elevator pitch of between 30 and 60 seconds. The aim varies may vary between putting forward an idea, selling a product/project or proposing the solution to some kind of problem. In February, two versions of the event were run and the winners were Mariana Lara, a student on the Master in Big Data & Analytics and Ricardo Anselmi, a student on the Master in Design Thinking and Customer Experience.
Tell us a bit about yourselves, your educational background and professional career? What is your current job?
Mariana Lara: With respect to my career, my first proper job was as a Radio Frequency Engineer at Huawei Technologies Venezuela, where I worked for about 3 years. I had the opportunity to work on PMO projects at the headquarters in Panama and to be an instructor at the Huawei University on technical issues related to LTE and WCDMA. After this, I was transferred to Huawei Technologies Colombia, where I joined the Delivery & Quality team, taking on various roles in this department and working with the BI department that was taking shape at the time. After almost a year in Bogotá, a really challenging project came up in Costa Rica which I managed to classify for and decided to take part in. For two years, I worked as an LTE network consultant. I am currently finishing a Master in Big Data & Business Analytics and getting involved in various Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation projects.
Ricardo Anselmi: I have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. For over 8 years, I worked as the Manager of the Department of Advertising and Marketing at companies like Telefónica, Terra and Digitel in Venezuela. I then decided to start my own business specializing in representing brands in marketplaces, which I ran for 6 years. My entrepreneurial venture gave the me the chance to discover digital marketing and ecommerce, which are my great professional passions. It keeps me so excited that I can work for hours and hours almost without realising. I currently work as the Marketplace & Logistics Director for Tec Moon, a Spanish high-tech mattress brand that has recently entered the market.
Turning to the Brand Challenge, what were your elevator pitches about? What were their objectives?
Mariana Lara: One of the things that the School has particularly emphasised over the course of the program is the fact that we have to develop new routines and skills. With this in mind, since last year, I have been signed up to different news websites and, every morning, I read a summary of the main international news of the day. The Sunday before the event, the Oscars Ceremony was held and this edition’s best movie, Parasite, became the top news story of the week in the national and international press. It occurred to me that a Korean film taking the top prize against all predictions could be a good starting point for my Elevator Pitch.
In a globalized world and a sector as competitive as the movie world, Parasite manage to triumph thanks to its quality and freshness, without renouncing its origins, which, in a certain way, is what makes us unique. With this in mind, I came up with an analogy between this triumph and my professional background and career, linking it to my technical profile specializing in Big Data. In the end, it was a matter of building an appealing story that enabled me to communicate my personal brand in an original and attractive way.
Ricardo Anselmi: Basically, in the Brand Challenge, we imagine a really brief encounter with this key figure (recruiter, investor, client or shareholder) with whom we need to connect and achieve their support for our business project or professional goal. In my case, I recreated a casual meeting in an elevator with the Director of an ecommerce consultancy that I would really like to work for. My goal was to get an interview with this person to explore opportunities to join their team.
What strategies did you use to develop these pitches? What influence did your EAE programs have on the process?
Mariana Lara: I followed all the speakers’ advice and tried to be as authentic as possible. Luckily, I am studying on the specialist areas in the highest demand on the market, which gave me lots of confidence because it is also something that I am passionate about and can talk about with expertise. My technical career has always been associated with a different kind of skills, with people often assuming that, as we are engineers, we aren’t very good at speaking. Neither is a characteristic that is often associated with programmers. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to break these stereotypes this year. The Big Data course do not focus on developing these soft skills directly, but the School runs cross-profile training throughout our studies, which I have tried to take full advantage of.
Ricardo Anselmi: Firstly, I structured what I wanted to say to this person. I defined the goal that I wanted to achieve in this conversation. Then, I did some research on the company and the person I would be meeting and, with this in mind, I chose a couple of points from my professional career that could grab their attention. Lastly, I came up with something that I could add to make a good impression on them. I am a student on the Master in Design Thinking & Customer Experience and the program has equipped me will the tools to resolve problems with a client-oriented approach. It came naturally to me to use the same tools in the Challenge.
Why do you think it is important to develop your communication skills nowadays?
Mariana Lara:Because we are what we convey, but also how we convey it. In a market as competitive as the one we currently face, we have to be more creative than ever before if we want to stand out in a world with so much noise. Therefore, being good at writing, exploiting your network of contacts and learning to speak in public, as well as developing a personal brand through your social media and different platforms, have become essential. This is where communication plays a crucial role.
Ricardo Anselmi: Communicating assertively is fundamental because it enables is to connect with people better and create strong bonds. Knowing the best way to grab the attention of our audience or counterpart and ensuring that they receive our message with full clarity also enables us to be more effective.
Which specific skills would you highlight and why?
Mariana Lara: EFirst and foremost, knowing how to do a good diagnostic. It is really important to have a clear idea of our starting point, what we can offer and what sets us apart from the rest in professional terms, but also at a personal level. Our background, together with our concerns, hobbies and tastes can create an attractive story to tell. Once we know what we want to say, we have to know how to say it.
Therefore, we have to develop editing skills and, most importantly, read a lot. I love browsing the press, reading specialist articles on blogs and listening to podcasts, and it is essential for me to nourish myself from various sources because they invariably end up inspiring you. Lastly, we just have to use technology to unite all the previous points and convey our message on social media or blogs, but always striving to be creative and authentic in order to transmit something unique that lets us stand out.
Ricardo Anselmi: In my opinion, I would say empathy because putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes enables us to generate fluid communication without confusion in our counterpart’s mind and making a good impression. I am sure that, if we manage to connect with people from a launchpad of emotions and feelings, we can achieve far more powerful results that with merely functional communication.
What about grabbing the attention of the audience or a client? What is the most effective strategy?
Mariana Lara: Knowing how to explain our project and improve our public speaking techniques. Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know. In terms of strategies, we have to create personalized content for the audience that we are addressing, with a good start and finish, that grabs the audience’s attention and keep them connected to our story. Connecting with somebody is a kind of conquest in which all aspects have an impact: our gestures, posture, tone of voice, how we dress, the words we use, how we greet them, among many other factors that we can work on to make them increasingly natural and effective. Of course, there are different scenarios and levels of formality but, for every audience, we have to have a command, charisma and confidence.
Ricardo Anselmi: Stories that recount a certain anecdotal moment are much more powerful at grabbing people’s attention because they prepare and condition them to be more receptive to what we want to say. In my opinion, combining a good story with the message we want to convey to our audience is a very effective strategy.
Lastly, what impact has your time at EAE had in terms of consolidating your communication tools?
Mariana Lara:Naturally, I like talking and always have done. I talk to strangers, friends, family. I even talk to myself. My time at the School has given me various tools for focusing this characteristic of myself more effectively. For instance, I now write articles about Artificial Intelligence, which are related to my Master. They help me build my personal brand. I learn and enjoy myself and it has given me the chance to meet lots of interesting people in the field. I have also had good role models and examples to follow in different conversations and conferences. I have had the opportunity to interact with influential people. And I mustn’t forget to mention the networking events, which were very beneficial and gave me the chance to make new friends.
Ricardo Anselmi: The Master in Design Thinking & Customer Experience is a very practical program on which we are constantly exposed to situations that force us to improve our communication. Moreover, the content of the program includes topics that directly touch on communication tools that enable us to know our customers better.