During the first semester of my third year in undergraduate studies, I lead a team of 4 people in a national competition held by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. There were more than 200 teams from universities throughout China. The competition was divided into three rounds; in the first round, each team was required to submit an abstract report of a case analysis. In the second round, each shortlisted team was required to submit a full case analysis. Finally, in the 3rd round, each finalist team was required to give an on-site presentation based upon the case analysis.
A professor with rich experience in many aspects of business and in case analysis supervised my team. Many peers and professors regarded my team as the most promising team from my college. My team consisted of four well-rounded peers, who had much more knowledge in business than many other colleagues. We were proficient in writing reports and giving presentations; and possessed good collaborative skills.
Since I am a very proactive person, my team started to prepare for the first-round abstract report during the summer holidays. Our pace was intense, yet in control. After a lot of hard work we finally submitted our abstract for the first-round review. We were confident that we would make it to the second round. However, we were ambitious and were certain we’d be the champions; just like the team I led a year earlier. Due to impending midterms, we raced full steam ahead and proceeded to write up our full report before the 1st round results were announced.
We revised the full report three times before we knew the outcome of the first round, and we were not on the shortlist. Our first response was disbelief; we were shocked. Soon, we began to try to analyze our loss. We sought aid from professors experienced in business and case analysis reports. The professors told us we did great work. Professors and peers alike were at a loss to explain our failure. Our supervisor emailed us and told us that there was nothing right or wrong in a case analysis; the only criterion was whether it worked. So, he said, it was just “the report did not match the taste of the judges”.
After a few days’ reflection, I realized that sometimes there is no cause-and-effect relationship; it’s just luck. While this failure might not be caused by any of us, but as the leader I had pushed for the path we followed, and ultimately the blame for the loss should fall on me. I delivered my deepest apologies to all of my teammates, and tried my best to comfort and accommodate them.
Time puts everything into proportion. Because my team did not enter the second round, we had more time to do our college work. As a result, I had even closer interactions with professors in diverse disciplines and excelled even further academically. I realize that sometimes a failure is just a learning experience.