Every year, hordes of business students race to obtain professional careers at large companies post graduation. Case competitions and business challenges hosted by corporates and industry leaders offer students unique opportunities to demonstrate business acumen, to network with professionals and, as a result, to stand out from their peers. Students pursuing entrepreneurship can also benefit by gaining exposure to potential investors and partners.
Stargazers Consulting, formed 6 months ago by a group of young professionals with a collective mission to help students unlock their full potential, provides services that improve logical reasoning, financial literacy, and problem-solving; Key competencies needed to excel at case competitions, interviews, and pitches.
In an exclusive interview with Sonam C. Wangchuk, founder of Stargazers Consulting, this article explores the role Stargazers Consulting plays in the student community space and the trends and features of student entrepreneurship in Hong Kong.
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Case competitions emerging as an integral part of students’ lives
As the benefits of partaking business challenges have become increasingly apparent, students in Hong Kong have begun taking note of and taking part in more challenges over the past few years. These challenges not only encourage students to develop their team-working skills, but they also present students opportunities to apply their school knowledge to real world business problems, and receive mentorship from seasoned professionals at industry-leading organizations.
Sonam delivered the final pitch of his first case competition just three years ago. Having been an avid participant of such challenges since then, he has some interesting observations.
“Case competitions were not popular a few years back then when I was still a student. However, as more and more corporations and organizations are organizing student case competitions, students are joining these competitions since the first year of their university lives.”
Sonam believes case competitions will only become an increasingly essential component of every university student’s life.
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Major weakness of Hong Kong students - lack of creativity and ideation skills
After competing in a number of case competitions and watching a wide range of teams deliver pitches, Sonam observed a major weakness of local Hong Kong students. “In terms of efficiency, dedication and commitment, local students are no doubt doing a great job. However, many students who are used to report writing lack proficient presentation design and ideation thinking skills. They tend to create what’s already existing in the market… Even for those with great ideas at competitions, they are not winning because of the poor presentation skills, and that’s a waste of great ideas.”
It was exactly this observation that inspired Sonam to found Stargazers Consulting. He saw a desperate need to coach students to not only think creatively but to also deliver presentations that cohesively articulate their solutions.
Final Event of Clarins Marketing Challenge, 2019
The loophole of the current education system
Sonam critiques that “creativity and ideation are not encouraged in secondary school or even in university curriculums.” The current education system simply lacks the practical training that prepares students to be effective professionals in the workplace.
He adds, “University is a great opportunity for students to gain foundational business knowledge and skills, but there’s a big gap between learning and doing, the skills required in the real business world are not incorporated into the school curriculum. Take Digital Marketing as an example. Scoring an A in the class doesn’t help with executing marketing operations in the real world.” Sonam sees student case competitions and challenges as an avenue to combat this issue.
Evolving from private consultation to large-scale workshops
Stargazers Consulting started out by providing private consultations to teams partaking in student challenges. However, Sonam and his partners later came to the realisation that their company’s service delivery had downsides. “We changed a little bit because we realised that our impact was very minimal, and we could only provide value for four or five students at a time.”
This epiphany prompted the team to take the company in a different direction – organizing workshops with big audiences. The shift proved to be the right decision as the first large-scale workshop they held, at the City University of Hong Kong, was a huge success drawing in over a hundred students keen on improving their presentation and slide-making skills.
Over the past five months, Sonam and his team have continuously asked for feedback from their student participants in order to refine their service. Sonam explains, “ultimately, what we want to do is to address the pain points that students encounter and make sure that we are using the right method to provide the right solutions.”
Learn to walk before you run!
Sonam is delighted that more students in Hong Kong are becoming more open to the idea of pursuing entrepreneurship post-graduation instead of committing to the traditional 9-to-5 job. However, he cautions that while ambition is a necessity for innovation, students must be mindful to balance their enthusiasm with a healthy degree of practicality.
Sonam asserts, “Many students lack the technical knowledge and practical experiences in the industry that they want to pursue… avoid highly specialised technology in your business idea, unless you are actually familiar with it.” In view of this, Stargazers Consulting offers courses that provide realistic direction in a number of industries to prepare student entrepreneurs for their venture ahead.
The silent organizer behind the challenges
Sonam unknowingly first came across Agorize when he participated in L’Oréal Brandstorm 2019 two years ago. He partook in many more challenges afterwards, organized by a plethora of big brands. Curiously, while the organizers differed, he noticed that the platform designs and registration processes were nearly identical. It was then that he realized that all the challenges he had competed in, while organized by different corporates, were all powered by Agorize’s open innovation platform which is specifically designed to host both student and startup challenges.
“The Agorize platform offers a variety of challenges including innovation-based, consulting-focused, social good, startup hackathons which provide participants with a lot of different options to showcase their talent.”
About Stargazers Consulting
Stargazers Consulting is founded by a group of young professionals passionate about case competitions, consulting and entrepreneurship. It aims to train and equip university students who are captivated by winning case competition, establishing their own startups and social enterprises through workshops, knowledge democratization and other initiatives to help students reach their full potential and aim for the stars.
Sonam C. Wangchuk is the Founder of Stargazers Consulting. He graduated from CUHK majoring in Business and minoring in French and German. Currently, he is on a 1-year fellowship at Teach for Hong Kong and plans to launch a social enterprise and fintech company in the coming year. Throughout the past 2 years, he has devoted his university life to case competitions and entrepreneurship by participating and winning various international and local competitions. He firmly believes in empowering young individuals to aim for the stars.