As a blogger, you get to attend a lot of events. Whether it’s an exhibition for startups, a dinner to formally announce a new venture or an impersonal event organized because the boss said so, most of them tend to be quite sterile affairs. That holds true for some talent acquisition competitions I know of too. So I was very pleased to see MOL Freshhh Finals in Budapest, which were not only well planned but also fun and engaging for the participants and audience alike.
Before diving in, a primer. MOL Group is an oil and gas company with operations in over 40 countries, including Pakistan. Freshhh is part of the many programs the company runs to attract the most talented people from all across the globe. In its 9th iteration this year, the competition saw more than 6500 students apply from 70 countries. Despite Pakistan being the leading participating country, none of the local teams made it to the final unfortunately.
Onwards. The competition was organized in three distinct stages.
- Round 1: Teams of three managed virtual oil companies and made technical and strategic decisions (all done online). The tasks involved everything from R&D to diversifying product portfolio.
- Round 2: Top 40 performing teams went up against each other with the theme being retail related tasks and activities.
- Round 3: Top 5 teams went on to take part in the Freshhh Final Event.
The location of the Final Event for Freshhh 2015 was picturesque Budapest. It was a true cultural mix with MOL executives joining participants and bloggers from all across the world. Over the course of 2 days, there was sight seeing, great food, networking and a whole lot of work and fun.
The structure of the finals themselves was unique. First, there were presentations where the teams played the part of consultants advising the top management of MOL Group. A hypothetical scenario where oil and gas stay at $50 per barrel was the subject and teams had to outline strategies for oil integrated companies and MOL in particular.
Since the MOL management for whom the solutions were being presented were in the jury, it allowed for excellent question and answer sessions where teams justified their research methodology and defended how they arrived at their proposed actions. In return, they got pointed feedback from industry veterans.
Second part of the contest was a strategic situation game. Each team was assigned a virtual country where they had certain oil and economic resources and were responsible for maximizing the profit through investments, building up the industry and making deals with other teams. The 90 minute exercise tested the strategic planning and negotiation skills of teams in particular since forming mutually beneficial partnerships was critical to increasing the profits.
Throughout the event, there was particular emphasis on keeping the audience engaged. Bloggers mixed in to get insights for stories, teams huddled up with mentors for last minute advice and the management of the company were receptive to discussions ranging from the future of oil to the Premier League transfer season.
Members of the audience got mics during the strategic simulation game so that they could hear how the teams were planning, negotiating and executing their strategies. Everyone actually got to vote for their favorite teams as well through moss covered tokens which went up on a magnetic board. Small touches like these really helped everyone get invested into the proceedings.
At the end, crowd favorite – Just Ask Siri from the Czech Republic – snagged top honors and placed first in MOL Freshhh 2015.
Overall, it was exhilarating to see up close a multinational company that doesn’t resign itself to hiring from a few select universities. Instead, they open the doors for anyone who has talent and pure merit determines the winners. In Budapest this year, they brought together a highly diverse group of people for two exquisite days in Budapest and managed to help foster relationships that I’m sure will last for a long time.
Having seen the attention to detail displayed throughout the course of the MOL Freshhh 2015 competition, I can’t help but be impressed and can sincerely recommend that all Pakistani graduates interested in a career in the oil and gas industry mark their calendars for when the competition opens up again. For professionals, if your company is looking to do talent recruitment the right way, taking MOL’s cue would be a prudent strategy.