Figured I’d pen everything down so I don’t forget my experiences and can read back later in the future.
Months ago, sometime in May, DH asked me whether I was willing to join their team for the WACC 2017. Prior to him asking me, I was supposed to join the competition with another friend but due to many reasons, we didn’t submit our proposal in the end. According to DH also, he told me and asked me about the competition before earlier this year but apparently I rejected him. Me being me, I probably wasn’t paying much attention when he told me about it. Nevertheless, I told him yes, I’m up for it but I’m not confident at all. At that time also, I already knew that I was going to be in China and should we get into Top 10, I wasn’t sure if I could attend the final stage of the competition.
I remember clearly being in a dilemma and not sure if I could contribute as much as I would like to so I spoke to my mum about it and she agreed that it would be a good experience for me but it’ll also cost a lot since I am already going to China. After much consideration, I decided to
(dig my own grave) go ahead with the competition. I emailed the university asking if I could leave the summer school earlier, told my parents about it, DH emailed the organiser and all of these were done with a green light.
We then had our very first ‘group meeting’ over Kakao Call and it was the most awkward 10 minutes of my life. Since the two of them had a few papers to sit for while I only had one, I decided to start reading over the company’s history and did some research on my own. We only started to do work after they arrived back in Korea and me, back in Malaysia. There was only about 2-3 weeks left by that time and we haven’t even done much discussion. Things started to get better and it was just WhatsApp/Kakao/Skype calls every single day, about 2 hours with the whole team and at least 5 hours per day with DH. It was pretty tiring, having to sleep late and try to get home as early as possible to continue doing discussions and at times, we just wanted to give up. Like, why did we even get ourselves into this in the first place?
Throughout the whole competition period, everything was just everywhere. Our discussions were productive but sometimes when you get too deep into the discussion, just throwing ideas everywhere, you can’t remember everything that was discussed and left out a lot of things that we were supposed to write in our case study. Since DH and I were responsible for the second half of the case study, I was doing a lot of discussions with him but we don’t always agree on the same thing. Me being me, I was stressed out but he always seemed to have a way of kicking that stress away of me.
We had to read shit tons of articles, journals and so much more. Heck I even had to help DH translate Chinese articles and Malay statistics reports. Since some of the sources were in Hangul, I had to read line by line and try to translate them slowly. Clearly testing my language skills.
Nonetheless, this competition has been a really fulfilling one. I got to learn so many things from the both of them. From how Korean companies work to things that I myself never knew about Malaysia and ASEAN to learning economic and business things to looking at financial statements and annual reports. Although I knew that I was lacking in every way possible, they were both really helpful and tolerating.
The deadline for the main case study was on the 19 of June 2017 but they didn’t state what time so we decided to give ourselves a deadline of 18 June 2017 23:59. Things didn’t go as we wanted it. It was 10 minutes till our self-given deadline but our executive summary, references, conclusion and keywords weren’t even done yet. The ‘deadline’ passed and DH was like ‘let’s just stop’. But I felt that we’ve already come a long way, why not just finish and still submit? If we get disqualified, then it’s fine. I mean who can we blame except ourselves? We had everything done at around 3-4am and I also had a flight to catch in the evening that day but haven’t packed my luggage yet. We submitted it and I just went to bed. I was really sceptical of us even being considered, what more to say get into Top 10.
I didn’t give it much thought since then because I was going on a vacation and what is done is done. The results were set to be announced on 27 June 2016. I told DH I’ll just go MIA on that day and not check my phone nor email. Funny enough, I found myself constantly refreshing my email and checking my phone the entire morning. I thought maybe we didn’t make it so I went to take a nap in the afternoon with my phone NOT on silent mode. Suddenly, I heard my Kakao notification. I jumped out of bed, checked my Kakao and Joon was like ‘omg we did it’. I quickly checked my email and HOLY MALKDAGLCLASKW ‘Congratulations! Etc etc etc etc’. Wait, what?
We were to prepare a 15 minutes presentation (about 13 minutes talking and 2-3 minutes of Q&A) for the final stage of the competition, which were to be presented at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea on the 12 of August 2017. It was only the week before I left for China that we started talking about the presentation but obviously, we left it way too late. I was busy during the whole time I was in China, always not in the dormitory from morning 8.30am till close to midnight. Busy having fun, to be honest but I mean why not live the moment while I’m there, right? Anyway, DH was busy with his volunteering camp and Joon had his part done already. Guilty level max. DH and I occasionally phoned each other to discuss about the competition but it wasn’t really productive because most of the time, we were just talking about how our day went etc etc.
On the 8 of August 2017, I decided to change my flight ticket to Seoul a day earlier. I didn’t know how the idea came up between my parents and I but I thought it was a really good idea. I knew DH was in camp during that time and I couldn’t really reach him that easily. Later in the afternoon that day, DH phoned me back and I decided to go ahead with the plan of changing my flight ticket. Thank God for Joon, I had someone to help me settle all my change of plans. I was supposed to fly at 3pm on 11 August but changed it to 10 August. Yeah, changing my flight literally a day before flying. When my mum contacted the travel agent, it was already in the evening. I had to email my China university, Manchester university, the competition organiser, etc etc. Accommodation for an extra night wasn’t booked until the night of 9 August. Everything was just everywhere and my friends in China held a farewell dinner and drinking sesh for me so I was in downtown Jinan.
On the morning of 10 August, I skipped my calligraphy class to finish some procedures of leaving the school. My assigned buddy told me that recently a lot of flights have been cancelled due to the earthquake and the weather so thank goodness I changed my flight a day earlier. Procedures were done quite quickly and I went back to my room to do some work while waiting for brunch time with my friends. The ones that skipped class went ahead for brunch and the rest who were in class ran out during break time just to have my last meal together with me. Honestly don’t know what I did to deserve such nice people like them.
After brunch, I ran back to my dorm to grab my bags because a friend was waiting for me already at my dorm so I quickly returned the keys and left for the airport with him. So thankful that someone that I literally met during my first day in SDU offered to send me all the way to the airport, dropped me off and returned back to uni. I landed at Incheon at around 6pm and by the time I went through immigration, grabbed my luggage, buy a SIM card and got on the train, it was already 7pm. I turned my phone on and off several times but the SIM card still wouldn’t work so I started to get a bit worried because my friends were going to pick me up from Seoul station and since Seoul station is huge, I was going to have trouble finding them. Thankfully, the minute I got out of the tracks, which was several escalators up (didn’t know where I was going so I just kept going up and up and up), I saw them waiting already. We went for a really nice course meal dinner and then to a drinking place for 파전 (pancake), 막걸리 (makgeolli) and 소주 (soju).
This was on the way to SKKU and miraculously, we look pretty awake.
The next day, I checked out of my hotel around 10am and then went over to my advisor’s hotel to pick him up and then we left for the hotel that was provided by the competition organiser. Sia came to see me that day so we all had lunch together which was really nice because I haven’t seen her in a long time. I felt really bad because she came all the way to Seoul to see me but I couldn’t spend the day with her because I had to prepare for my presentation which was going to be held the next day. We part ways and then went back to the hotel to check in and settle down. DH, Joon and I went to Insadong to grab coffee and churros. Taking our own sweet time walking to get food and drinks when it was already 3pm and they had things to do during dinner time. We started our discussion after that and then I went for dinner alone because they were busy with their own things.
At around 8pm, I got back to the hotel, met up with Joon and continued doing work. DH was supposed to be back at 10pm but boy called me at 11pm telling me he can’t find his suit trousers. The night before the competition jfc. Joon had to help me iron my formal clothes because well, I don’t have a reason. DH came back and our advisor came to check on us past midnight and we had to change a lot of things. We ended up sleeping at around 5am and we had to get up at 6am. I got up at 6am but the boys got up later because, boys. I went back to my room to shower and get ready, expecting them to be ready as well but when I got back to their room, nobody was ready. Boys oh boys.
We went downstairs at about 720am and our advisor bought us coffee. We left for SKKU and registered. The presentation slots were random and we were the 4th to present. I was heck nervous despite the amount of times I’ve done presentations. It just felt really different and knowing that we didn’t prepare as much as we could have, I was even more nervous. 5 minutes before our presentation, things changed and that made me even more nervous. The time on stage felt really short. It didn’t feel 15 minutes that we were on stage. After we got off stage, I was still really nervous for god knows what reason. Lunch was provided by the organiser and I’m impressed with Korean lunch boxes. My throat was burning so I couldn’t really eat. After eating, we went to a nearby convenience store to get contact lens solution for DH and medicine for me. The event resumed at it was awards time and case panel session. The medicine was a tad bit drowsy so I fell asleep during the case panel session. Well to be honest I was both drowsy and really tired.
Everything ended at about 6pm and we were contemplating whether to just go back and get some rest or just have dinner first that was provided by them. We went to the 5th floor and it was pretty proper and quite grand, in a way. We decided to stay for dinner but I was already half dead by the time. We got back to our hotel at about 9/10pm? I showered and just knocked out right away.
Fast forward to the company visit, I was out with DH till 6am and only slept at 7am. Company visit was at 9am which means I had to wake up at 8am and bam, one hour of sleep again. I was really reluctant to get up but I thought you know, since I’m already here, why not? DH, Joon and our advisor gave the company visit a miss so it was only me. It was kind of awkward at the beginning because I was alone and I didn’t really know anyone. Thankfully, I made friends during the company visit so it was all cool.
We visited CJ E&M, which was the company that I did the case study on. The building was huge and pretty cool. We had a short introduction session to the company and then a tour to the film sets.
The film set of School of Idol.
Sound control room and they were airing Gfriend.
Some cool looking control buttons.
Overall, this whole WACC 2017 experience was a great one and I definitely got to learn about things, get to know new people and learn to appreciate reading boring reports. All of the ‘why did I even join this shit’ and ‘I give up’ moments were well worth it. Although we weren’t champions, making into the Top 10 among almost 60 cases worldwide is already a pretty amazing thing (self-comfort). Flying to Seoul for the second time this summer was more amazing (jokes).