Filipino students place 2nd in P&G Asia Pacific CEO Challenge finals

Editor's note: This article was written with Procter & Gamble Philippines.

No matter how well we do in school, practicing what we learn in the real world is vastly different from being inside the classroom. 

The challenges we face at work test our application of the skills and theories learned in classes, which is the value of seeking learning experiences outside the classroom – whether it be internships or joining case competitions. 

Top multinational employer Procter & Gamble (P&G)’s international business case competition dubbed “CEO challenge” is among the big regional business competitions that invite top college undergraduate students to test their skill in business leadership, strategic thinking, and real-life problem-solving. From the company that created brand and category management, this competition serves as an avenue for great young minds to develop business strategies to solve actual business challenges of P&G global brands.

This year, top undergrads from all over the region competed as CEOs and decision-makers for P&G’s brand Oral-B and its sustainable product line Clic. The challenge was to work on a business case featuring replaceable toothbrush heads that reduce plastic waste by 60%. 

Out of 7200+ registrants and 1260 team submissions from all over the Asia Pacific, team Philippines emerged as the 2nd place winners in the regional finals, where 27 teams competed.

The 3-person team was composed of 3rd year students Martina Francisco and Lovella Pelete from the University of the Philippines Business Administration program, as well as Isabell Santos from the Ateneo de Manila University Management Engineering program. 

We conducted an email interview with team Philippines to relive the experience of being CEOs of a global brand. Let’s get to know their P&G CEO Challenge journey. 

Formation of the team

TEAM PHILIPPINES. From left to right: Martina Francisco, Lovella Pelete, and Isabell Santos.

It’s interesting to note that the three members of the team come from two different universities. They actually met in high school and strengthened their friendship in college since their universities are within the same vicinity. This also wasn’t their first competition. 

“Our team had already joined another competition prior to joining P&G’s CEO Challenge, and it was a pleasant experience because we had positive team dynamics. One time, both Marts & Isabell asked me out of the blue if I wanted to enter P&G’s CEO Challenge with them. Without hesitation, I agreed and the rest is history,” said Pelete. 

“We chose to enter the CEO Challenge because of P&G and the competition’s vision to hone participants’ skills in business strategy and advocate sustainability,” Francisco added.

Preparation

Before the competition, the team prepared by getting to know P&G, its current projects, and initiatives. Francisco mentioned that before each meeting, they would discuss important facts and concepts related to the business and its stakeholders. 

But they hit a roadblock: they had difficulty coming up with the campaign strategy. They realized they were trying to solve so many things and there was a mismatch between their strategy and the problem they were trying to solve.

Under the guidance of experienced P&G executives, officers, and mentors, they reevaluated their proposed plan by focusing on consumer needs.

“The proper identification of the consumer's pain points, and deep understanding of their behaviors influence the design of the campaign because it should always revolve around what would create the most impact to the consumer,” said Santos. 

As one of the largest FMCG companies globally, P&G has always put consumer understanding at the heart of everything they do. This has resulted in many thought-leading product innovations that are indispensable today, such as the Joy dishwashing soap, the world’s first liquid dish soap, Pampers, the world’s first disposable diapers, and Whisper, the world’s first feminine pad with wings. The company makes sure its products and marketing answer consumers’ ever-changing needs. The new Oral-B Clic featured in the case challenge is a testament to this.

Competition

ORAL-B CLIC. Team Philippines' campaign was centered around encouraging and empowering consumers to get other manual toothbrush users to switch to Oral-B Clic because it could provide deeper cleaning while also reducing plastic waste.

Team Philippines identified their target market as millennial consumers in Singapore who want superior performing products that also allow them to contribute to society. Their campaign, “Discover the Power of Clic”, was centered around encouraging and empowering consumers to get other manual toothbrush users to switch to Oral-B Clic because its superior technology could provide deeper cleaning while also reducing plastic waste, a cause their target market cares about. This is also in line with P&G’s Ambition 2030 sustainability focus to make responsible consumption possible for its consumers by providing superior products that also protect the environment. 

The team decided to highlight Clic’s sustainable innovation emphasizing that this is an important concern for global brands. Santos said that corporate sustainability should be at the core of all brands today. “Every little action creates a ripple of much needed change and global brands should be the frontrunners with creating this change because their products are ingrained in our daily lives.” 

“Social responsibility should be at the core of businesses today. With everything that we are experiencing now, brands shouldn’t even think twice about initiatives and efforts that strive to promote the welfare of different communities and the environment,” added Pelete. 

A great place to work

We also asked the team if they had any advice for those who wish to join the P&G CEO Challenge in the future. 

“The CEO challenge may seem daunting especially with the numerous stages that you have to go through and the hundreds of applications that they receive. But I can say that it’s really worth it. Each stage will give you a different learning experience and no matter what stage you end up in, you’ll surely take with you a new skill, perspective, or even a new passion,” said Santos.

Go lang nang go and never be afraid of failure or uncertainty,” added Pelete.

As a top employer, P&G is focused on developing leadership skills demonstrated through meaningful work on global brands that create a positive impact in society. Through the competition, team Philippines became CEOs and business owners, practicing innovative, consumer-centric thinking to come up with business strategies for market-leading brands like Oral-B.  

For those on the hunt for a fulfilling career working on global brand innovations, P&G lands among the top choices for consideration. To learn more about P&G’s CEO Challenge and how to join, visit https://www.pg-ceochallenge.com/. – Rappler.com

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Procter & Gamble Philippines

P&G serves consumers around the world with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Always®, Ambi Pur®, Ariel®, Bounty®, Charmin®, Crest®, Dawn®, Downy®, Fairy®, Febreze®, Gain®, Gillette®, Head & Shoulders®, Lenor®, Olay®, Oral-B®, Pampers®, Pantene®, SK-II®, Tide®, Vicks®, and Whisper®. The P&G community includes operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide.

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