On April 15, at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s headquarters in Washington D.C., a team of four UChicago students won the Accenture Innovation Challenge, a national consulting competition. In the competition, student teams from more than 50 colleges brainstormed solutions to corporations’ real-world problems. This is the second time in the past four years that UChicago has won the competition.
Second-years Michal Dzitko, Patrick Su, and Carol Lee and first-year Laura Hu formed the winning team. They worked to create a strategy to assist one of Accenture’s partners, the WWF, in its attempt to cut back on food waste.
The team proposed a plan for grocery retailers and businesses to contribute their extra resources to a coalition dedicated to feeding the homeless. Retailers could serve a social good and substantially cut costs, the team argued, by using the communication and database platform they created, called Bullseye.
“Our idea of Bullseye was a website that included a data analytics platform to track and measure food waste that could also be used for grocery retailers to connect to nonprofit partners,” Lee said.
The team originally planned to propose a food truck to feed the homeless, but their adviser Ethel Yang advised against the idea. “She was extremely nice and helpful, though…. We were definitely lucky to have such a great adviser throughout the process,” Su said.
The team also struggled to balance academic responsibilities with their work for the competition. “The worst was probably during the second round, when we had to make substantial edits to our initial submission, and then address two more new requirements all during the weekend before winter finals,” Su said. “We were all exhausted, but powered through.”
The winners were offered summer internship positions at Accenture in 2017, as well as a networking dinner with Accenture employees. The team had received an automatic interview with Accenture for winning one round, and a donation made to WWF in their name for winning another round.
“I was definitely nervous about the outcome; each e-mail telling us that we had made it to the next round came as a surprise to me and my team. The final round consisted of other teams that were just as prepared and intelligent, and when they said that UChicago had won, I felt a sense of pride and astonishment,” Lee said.