The One That Got Away


A conversation with a close friend


We ‘crashed out’ of the Rotman Design Challenge this weekend. ‘Crashed out’ being the operative phrase. Couldn’t manage to make the finals. A month long intense design challenge that we invested our time and energies on, than all the case competitions we’d worked on previously, put together. It meant a lot because of everything we were going through as a team and as individuals.

Kyle was between multiple rounds of interviews for an elusive summer internship. Lara’s better half was moving countries, and faced some untoward incidents that kept her up at nights. I made them miss classes, skip meetings, work day, night and weekend.

But we knew we didn’t deserve to win. We ‘recommended’ when we should have ‘designed’. We settled on an idea because we had few that were better. Because we didn’t do too much research beyond what we discussed in meetings. So the first idea that came our way looked more than ordinary, and we went ahead with it without really evaluating if that fit the bill in terms of what was expected. I was burned out too. Just tried to pretend otherwise so the team had a driver. 6-7 hours of classes everyday and 4 hour and 2.5 hour lectures didn’t help.

Maybe I’m not a designer, I’m just a marketer. We needed a design person. Who could have held onto the few thought starters with potential, that we let go of. Someone that could have fought my ‘marketing’ way of thinking. I failed to do that on my own. And I’ll probably never forgive myself for that.

I’m proud of what we did, and how we sold what we did, once we did it. But I’d have dearly loved to go back in time and see if an alternate route would have brought us different returns. And I guess the thought of that will haunt me forever.

After seeing the first few presentations, I instantly recalibrated my expectations as I was blown away by their quality. At that point, all I wanted was for a chance for us to perform. We needed to have worked a lot longer, harder AND hoped for the best to get placed. Clearly we weren’t up for that

But our presentation had potential. As did our presenters. Which is what made this a bitter pill to swallow.

The ride’s over but it was fun while it lasted. Never felt that good about myself in life like that.

JT’s legend just got bigger. Kyle once spoke of how him and I put together could possibly equal JT. Clearly, not even then.

It may have been one case competition too many, but it won’t ever be one I’ll regret doing.

Even if I had known which teams would win a month ago, and was asked to be a part of one of those, I would have still done with my team. Guess winning isn’t everything.


But don’t let my self pity take anything away from what a fantastic case competition the RDC is. 150 students from over 15 different schools across Canada, USA and Europe.

Saturday started off with us arriving for in the morning for some tasty breakfast and into specially reserved breakout rooms we went, where good luck messages were written on the board by the organizers. Also in the meeting room were a pack of cards, post-its and sharpies. We also received a Goodie bag that contained some gum, a pair of TELUS design socks, select books on design, a TELUS journal and a TELUS stuffed toy.


Once we presented in the afternoon, TELUS, Doblin (Deloitte’s Design Thinking Wing) and SY Partners conducted workshops.

wk.pngWe then capped the day off with a cocktails and a networking session for 30 mins followed by an exquisite dinner comprised of salad bars, taco bars, sushi bars, 4 types of fried seasoned chicken. A guacamole overdose made me too stuffed to be in a position to attend the after-party at the East of Brunswick Pub n Kitchen. What a weekend it was.

Of the many things I learnt participating in the RDC, there’s one I will take with me wherever I go.

All my life I was under the impression that the whole point of Pandora’s Box was that once you opened it, you can’t close it again.

Yesterday, I got a message from an incoming student who reminded me about the great year I had just had. That’s when I remembered that they’re called Case ‘Competitions’ for a reason. Just because there are so many of them around, doesn’t mean they’re easy to win.

When I moved the folder titled “RDC” out of my desktop last night, it stung almost as badly as it did when I had to last move a folder titled “P&G” but that’s when it hit me. Maybe that’s not how the story ends.

I may have run my race, perhaps it’s now time to see others run theirs. It reminded me that when everything is over, and the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box….


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