Team Bangladesh Roars at Unilever’s Global Competition

On the 19th of March 2015, The Tigers roared in London. Team Bangladesh, representing Unilever Bangladesh Limited, lifted the first runners-up crest at the Unilever Future Leader’s League 2015, beating more than 300,000 students from around the world. They beat teams from Canada, Sri Lanka, Germany, Russia, Philippines, Singapore, and 23 other countries, including Nordic countries; impressing the judges and announcing their arrival on the global stage as future business leaders.

It has been a long journey for the team, which consisted of Nusrat Khondaker, Akib Mashrur and Aftarul Islam, students of Batch 20, Jahangir Nagar University (IBA), Dhaka. Setting out with an aim of winning Unilever Bizmaestros, they concluded their run by lifting the Bangladesh green and red ever higher at the top most students’ business competition – the Unilever Future Leader’s League.

Champions of Bizmaestros 2014

In October 2014, the team was crowned Champions of Bizmaestros 2014, the Unilever Bangladesh business competition for final year University students. Bizmaestros provides final year students to experience the thrill of real business through the competition activities. 

Students are required to conduct research to accumulate consumer insight on a real brand of Unilever and then formulate a business plan for the brand. They are also asked to design their own communication material, suggest their own sustainability idea for the brand and build a 360 degree plan to build the brand. Throughout this process, the participants also obtain the unique opportunity to be coached and guided by the brand managers of Unilever Bangladesh.

The team from Jahangirnagar University beat 10 teams in Bizmaestros 2014 to win the opportunity to represent Unilever Bangladesh at Unilever Future Leaders’ League. The Future Leader’s League is a global business competition where representatives from more than 30 countries were sent to fight it out this year and be crowned the best.

In preparation for the competition, the Bangladesh team spent more than a month with Unilever Bangladesh managers, particularly Numair Chowdhury, Senior Brand Manager, Oral Care, who acted as their mentor. 

“The challenge for the FLL team this year was twofold: first they had to work with a brand that has no existence in this country and they had very little knowledge of, and second they had to develop a campaign for one of the most complex target groups – teenagers, and that too on a global level. In a very short period of time, the team has worked relentlessly to overcome both these barriers and have successfully developed a world class campaign.

Commenting on the team development, Numair Chowdhury said “it gives me great pride to have mentored this team and over the last few weeks I have learnt as much from them as they have from me.”

Grooming future leaders

The Unilever Bangladesh managers also groomed the team in presentation and public speaking skills to help them represent their best at the global platform. “We have been interacting with this team since Bizmaestros 2014,” says Taslima Jaigirder, HR Business Partner for marketing function, “we observed their strengths and weaknesses and helped them identify those, as they prepared. We believe in building our local talent up to a global level. BizMaestros is the beginning of grooming the local talent while Future Leader’s League allows us to test them against a global standard.”

During the competition, Nusrat kept up a live commentary of their progress from Round 1 to the Semis and then to the finals, on her Facebook profile. One such status read “We are currently preparing for the final round. Our preparation so far has been great. BizMaestros gave us the opportunity to prove we are the best in the country and now it’s time to take that success to a global level.” 

The competition, which was based on a real-life business scenario concerning Cornetto, the Unilever ice cream brand, required fresh ideas from the young minds. Ideas that were generated would go on to impress the Directors, Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents of the Company, who sat as the judges. Bangladesh winning this accolade places the talent of our country in high regards among some of the most experienced business managers in the world.

“We do believe that Bangladeshi talent has the potential to reach and beat global standards,” said Mononita Syedhaq, HR Director, Unilever Bangladesh, “most of the times all we lack is the right grooming. So at Unilever Bangladesh we have taken it up as a mission to build up the talent of this country. It is our responsibility since we are one of the biggest MNCs in the country and an age old powerhouse of business leaders.”

Team Bangladesh’s win in Unilever Future Leader’s League 2015 is a milestone for the country’s talent journey. It showcases the enormous potential the talent of this country holds, as these three students from Jahangirnagar University beat 300,000 of their peers from across the world to claim one of the top titles of the prestigious global Unilever Future Leader’s League platform.

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