The Maverick makes students career ready, not just job ready: Bruce Stewart & SV Nathan

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Oct 6 2014, 08:43am hrs
The Maverick is an industry-academia connect initiative by Deloitte that, the company says, is focused on building solutions mindset, leadership behaviours, and client service competencies among the participants. This year the programme reached out to 54 business schools and the grand finale, held on September 26, was won by team Sounds Cool from XLRI Jamshedpur. In this interview Bruce Stewart, principal, Deloitte LLP, and SV Nathan, director, Talent, Deloitte Consulting India, share with FEs Vikram Chaudhary how such programmes can help students get career ready, not just job ready. Excerpts:

What was the idea behind launching the Maverick

At Deloitte we look at our work, services and value across three pillarsclients, talent and community. How to help make our clients successful in a complex, global environment; how to help our talent grow as leaders, experts and individuals; and how to serve the communities we operate in. The idea of the Maverick programme is an amalgamation of these commitmentsunderstand the needs and demands of the future workforce; help build their competencies and make them career ready; and enhance our own understanding of the talent marketplace and community and indirectly enhance our capability to serve clients with distinction. We have to engage the young workforce and through methods that bring in the creative elements, innovative approach and a solution mindset to solve business problems. Gamification works best with the millennials.

What are the key components of the Maverick programme

Working in teams; combining industry insight, innovative thinking and perspectives to design sustainable solutions to current day business challenges; and proposing and defending their solutions in a simulated corporate, client service environment are the key components of the Maverick. The evaluation of students is on key criteria required for building successful careers: their ability to identify the critical issues; the quality of their analyses; the extent to which they found solutions that challenged the status quo; their ability to offer practical suggestions; and their effectiveness at presenting and communicating their views.

It is held in a multi-stage elimination format. Teams that register are given an industry-centred business case to solve. The short-listed teams compete in regional qualifiers held across North, East, South and West of India. About 10-15 teams are short-listed for each region. In the regional qualifiers, the teams have to work on a business case (separate cases for each region) related to one of the industry sectors, and present their solutions to a boardroom of senior Deloitte leaders. They are evaluated on the basis of their ability to propose innovative solutions and defend their solutions in a simulated client service setting. From these, 4-6 teams are short-listed for the stage round, where the teams present their solutions to senior leaderson stage, with the student community of the host institute as the audience. The top three teams from each region qualify for the finale, where the boardroom and stage rounds are repeated, with a new business case.

In which all ways do the students who take part in the Maverick programme stand to gain

The programme is essentially focused on helping students get career ready, not just job ready, as the skills and behaviours that are being tested and brought out are through teaming, innovation, solutions mindset, business acumen, presentation and client service excellence. The participants get to experience the life of a consultant in real-time, enhance their business acumen and hone their competitive edge. The programme provides an opportunity for the participants to apply the concepts they learn in a real-life scenario. As the competition focuses on the participants demonstrating a solutions mindset, the programme adds value to their overall learning process at the business school.

The participants are exposed to real-life, current-day business issues from multiple industry sectors, encouraging them to go beyond academics to research, network and develop a deeper understanding of the business and the economy; design, propose and defend innovative solutions; and interact with and get valuable insights and advice from seasoned leaders. The pan-India competition, with participation from leading business schools, allows the participants a national platform to compete with the best, and also enhance their resume/profile.

Is the Maverick only an India-specific programme or have you undertaken such initiatives in other countries too

Deloitte engages with the future workforce through multiple initiatives on campuses. The Maverick has seen significant success. Our focus is on engaging with talent in meaningful ways, rather than introducing the same programme in other geographies.

How do you choose which business schools to include in the Maverick in a particular year

We choose leading business schools across the length and breadth of the country.

How many business schools you reached out to this year

We reached out to 54 business schools in 2014. Of a population of about 20,000 students of full-time management courses from these institutes, 13,500 students registered to participate in it.

Do you believe such programmes are essential to build a workforce for tomorrow

Theres a huge opportunity for corporate-campus connect and collaboration to unlock the potential of tomorrows workforce for skills and behaviours required to deliver exceptional client service, create intelligent solutions for complex problems, and grow as leaders. The Maverick is one distinctive attempt at leveraging that opportunity. Deloittes Human Capital Trends Report 2013 has also indicated that the war to develop talent is one of the key trends that are currently shaping the HR and talent programmes for business leaders.

In this age where students are burdened with their study material, is it justifiable to burden them with another competition

The Maverick complements the curriculum at the business school with learning from real-time business challenges; offers an opportunity for students to apply the concepts they have learnt; test their business acumen; increase their understanding of the industry; and add to their overall learning. The feedback we have received from both the faculty and students has been highly encouraging.