The Amazon Customer Excellence (ACE) Challenge 2020 was ranked number 1 in the Dare2 Compete Most Prestigious B-School Competitions 2021, among India’s top 10 premier B-school category. The ACE challenge was first launched in 2011 as part of Amazon’s vision to attract the country’s best talent, encourage innovation, give B-School students a first-hand experience of Amazon’s peculiar culture and identify the business leaders of tomorrow.
The ACE Challenge 2021
Launched virtually on August 2nd 2021 via a leadership fireside chat featuring Amazon business leaders including Puneesh Kumar, Aparna Purohit and Siddharth Nambiar, the event was attended by 4,300 MBA students across India, along with the 2020 finalists who shared their insights about their competition journey, as well as tips and tricks to succeed in the competition. The event was attended live by 1,600 students across campuses while 6,200 viewed the recorded event online. The case for ACE 2021 was titled “Driving Indian Agriculture Forward” written by Sumit Saxena, via a ‘Write Like an Amazonian’ workshop led by Rajdeep Datta.
The winning team “Goal Diggers” was from Indian Institute the Management, Lucknow, the 1st Runner Up was Team Dirk from the Indian School of Business (ISB) and the 2nd Runner Up was Team SNCS from SP Jain, Mumbai. Says finale jury member, Puneesh Kumar, Country leader for Alexa, Amazon India, The ACE Challenge is a great way to engage 15,000+ brightest minds across the country to tackle real life problems and come up with innovative business solutions. It was heartening and inspiring to see India's future leaders innovate, strategize and build for tomorrow.”
Suman Yadav, Head of Student Programs, APAC and Japan, said, “The ACE Challenge provides MBA students with a unique opportunity to not only participate in a business case study competition, but also a valuable learning experience, solving real life problems, the Amazon way.”
Attracting the best minds
“Participating in Amazon ACE challenge was a wonderful experience”
Students from top colleges feel that they are lucky to have experienced the ACE journey this year. Says Aastha Maskara, ISB, “Participating in Amazon ACE challenge was a wonderful experience. Working to solve a real-world problem while keeping specific needs of the business in mind helped me put classroom learning into action. Moreover, getting real-time feedback from the panel was very beneficial in bolstering my learning from the event.”
Solving real world problems
“This is an exceptional opportunity to participate in brainstorming and solving for very “real world” problems”
The ACE Challenge has witnessed unprecedented growth and popularity in the last few years as provides B-school students a practical learning experience and allows them to get their hands dirty, solving a real world problems, the Amazon way. Vaishali Kasture, Head of Enterprise Segment, AWS and jury member of last year’s challenge says, “This is an exceptional opportunity to participate in brainstorming and solving for very “real world” problems. The candidates get the opportunity to study an Amazon business case and solve for customer centric problems.”
“The Amazon ACE journey has been a steep learning curve for our team.”
Speaking about their case which was pivoted around the agricultural sector and pain points of the Indian farmer, Team SNCS, SPJIMR, Mumbai, said that developing a strategy that is built customer backwards was the key. Explaining in detail, they said, “The Amazon ACE journey has been a steep learning curve for our team. Our case introduced us to a gold mine of business opportunities in the agricultural sector and gave us a chance to interact, understand the underlying pain points of the Indian farmer. Through the workshops and mentorship sessions, we got familiar with the doc-writing style at Amazon and also interacted with several senior leaders. This gave us a brief insight into how great ideas are brought to life at earth’s most customer-centric company!”
Enriching learning experience
“We were solving a vital problem statement in agriculture and have had many key takeaways from our research phases”
“Phase I of ACE 2021 has been a wonderful and enriching learning experience. We were solving a vital problem statement in agriculture and have had many key takeaways from our research phases. The problem statement brought in a whole new dimension. We would like to thank the judges for the feedback from round 1 and our mentor and buddy from Amazon for being immensely helpful and very approachable. We are eagerly looking forward to furthering proceedings in Phase II of ACE 2021 and are grateful for this extremely rewarding experience,” said Team NDA, the National Finalists, from IIM Bangalore.
Road to the finals
130 teams comprising four MBA students each, participated in the ACE Campus rounds which concluded on August 30th 2021 across 12 investment MBA campuses and 1 wild card campus round, judged by 45 Amazonians. 52 campus round winners competed for the coveted title of the National Winner at the ACE 2021 Finale.
The winning experience
“It is not just about winning the competition, but about making a difference”
Sharing their excitement at winning the Challenge, Team Goal Diggers from IIM Lucknow, said, “It has been an astounding journey so far, learning so much about the farmer input industry. The process of directly connecting with farmers from across the country, understanding their daily problems, and building a solution for them, has been immensely satisfying. Now, it is not just about winning the competition, but about making a difference."
Rewards and opportunities
The campus round jury identified top three teams on each of the campuses and the winner, first and second runners up from each campus. The top three teams from each campus will receive a pre-placement interview for MBA roles at Amazon. On Sep 10th 2021, the ACE 2021 Finale jury comprising Puneesh Kumar, Sandeep Thangiah, Suman Yadav, VG Sundar and Sumit Saxena identified national winners who will receive cash awards worth INR 2,00,000. The first-runner-up will receive cash awards worth INR 1,50,000, and the second-runner up will win INR 50,000.
Amazoned and how
“When I try to sum up my experience at Amazon, I fall short of words. So I created this one word that speaks in itself: ‘Amazoned’ ”
Recalling his experience at the 2020 ACE Challenge, Manavdeep Grover, PPO Holder and ACE PPI holder, now Amazon Future Builder Program (AFBP) Operations Manager at Amazon, says, “When I try to sum up my experience at Amazon, I fall short of words. So I created this one word that speaks in itself: ‘Amazoned’. ACE was a launch pad for my post-MBA career as it helped me get closer to Amazon’s peculiar culture, the leadership and innovate on behalf of the customers. The experiences across summer internship, Amazon ACE and then being a part of the first AFBP cohort are now proving pivotal in developing the leadership mind-set and stay customer obsessed.