The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

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RBC Innovator Challenge Finals

March 29th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Wow… it has been a busy couple weeks, as evidenced by the lack of blog posts lately. This week was very exciting though, as Jas, Jenn and I headed down to Toronto on Monday afternoon for the finals of the RBC Next Great Innovator challenge.

Day 1: Monday, March 26, 2007

From the moment we arrived, everything was first class. We checked into the Intercontinental Hotel, right downtown, where the Miami Heat basketball team happened to be staying (I found this out when I started chatting in the elevator with the largest man I have ever seen). Gift packs were waiting on our beds, which included some great RBC gear and clothing.

After getting settled in, all the teams convened in the lobby, where we were greeted by the RBC representatives. The five teams were from schools across the country – UBC, Schulich (York University), Ottawa, McGill and Waterloo. We rode up to the Ontario Science Centre on a pimped-out limo bus, where we were met by the RBC Olympians, Bernard Luttmer of the Sailing Team, and Lori Dupuis, who was part of the silver and gold medal winning Women’s Hockey teams in 1998 and 2002.

We had the entire Weston Innovation Centre booked off for us, and got to mingle with the athletes and other contestants over dinner and activities. Everyone was fairly tired, and with the presentations looming in the morning, we headed back to the hotel early and got ready for the big day on Tuesday.

Day 2: Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Presentations were scheduled first thing in the morning. The J2D Innovate team was scheduled second, at 9am. We ran through our presentation after breakfast, and before we knew it, it was showtime. The judging panel consisted of some of the top people at RBC:

  • Marty Lippert, CIO and Vice-Chair
  • David McKay, Executive Vice President & Head Canadian Personal Banking
  • Anita Sands, Head, Innovation & Process Design
  • Janet Barkwell, Vice President, Client Strategies, Personal Banking
  • Cathy Honor, Head, Cards & Payments Solutions

We delivered our presentation well, but got asked some tough questions surrounding the implementation of our idea. It was difficult to gauge their reactions, and not having seen any of the other presentations, it was hard to know where we stood. However, we left knowing that we had done the best we could.

The presentations took the entire morning. Once everyone finished up, we were escorted up to 40th floor of the RBC tower for lunch. All I can say is WOW – I hope one day HealthSpoke has an executive level like that. 🙂 Lunch was highlighted by a visit from Gord Nixon, the president of RBC. He dropped in for a few minutes to congratulate us. It was very cool to hear him speak of how much excitement the Next Great Innovator Challenge had generated within the bank.

At 5:30pm, the teams gathered again in the hotel ballroom for the awards ceremony, attended by over 100 RBC executives. We had a chance to have a couple drinks and do some mingling, and finally it was time to announce the winners. Jas, Jenn and I huddled together nervously, and were a little disappointed to hear our names called first, putting us in 5th place. The big winners were the team from UBC, with Schulich, Ottawa, McGill and us following. It was a little disappointing, particularly when we learned that after sharing our ideas, we were ranked first by the other teams, and that a couple of the judges had us ranked first heading into the presentations. On the bright side, we were in the top 5 out of over 100 submissions, had a great time in Toronto, and are still walking home with $500 each. Not bad for a couple pages of writing!

After the awards ceremony, we had a much smaller dinner party with the RBC team in the hotel restaurant. It was great to relax and get to chat with the judges and hear their stories. The JD2 Innovate team capped off a great two days with a few drinks in the hotel bar!! We would have loved to been celebrating a win, but were happy with what we accomplished.

Overall, it was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. I made some great connections and it was an awesome experience. It also highlighted something I heard earlier this year, that 80% of life is just showing up. We almost pulled out of this contest at the last minute, but thanks to “team cheerleader” Jas, we buckled down and got our entry submitted. We definitely got a great return on the few hours of investment!!

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ian Howard // Mar 30, 2007 at 10:55 am

    It was great to meet you guys. We too felt like you guys had a great idea. Best of luck with the balance of your semester. Cheers! Ian

  • 2 Benjamin Bach // Apr 2, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Hey Dan
    Congratulations on the great work. 95th percentile is a great result in anything you do!

    What I love about you is that you’re always striving for GREATEST no matter how GREAT you’re already doing!

    Keep Sprinting!