Universitas 21 and PwC Announce Winners of the Innovation Challenge (Group B)

Universitas 21 (U21) and PwC, are pleased to announce that Mac Montana from The University of Connecticut is the overall winner of the second round (B) of the U21/PwC Innovation Challenge competition.   

Universitas 21 and PwC, two globally-focused organisations, have come together to offer the Innovation Challenge. This unique partnership was formed to offer Masters and PhD students at U21 institutions access to global work opportunities in a mutually beneficial relationship. First prize is an expenses paid week long trip to PwC Dubai and all top three entrants are offered career development coaching sessions with the PwC Academy. 

The challenge asks students to respond to the idea of working in a world where innovation rules and automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks. However, in this competition round students were asked to respond to and prepare for working in a world where companies care, and humans come first. This competition round included U21 institutions from Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea, North and South America, and Canada.  

The winning entry stressed the importance of evolving and adapting to change through skills training and planning, but also embracing the qualities that make us human. 

Mac Montana (University of Connecticut)- Winner of the U21/PwC Innovation Challenge (Group B)

 Mac Montana, who works in finance and studies forensic accounting said, ‘I am thrilled to be selected as the winner of the PwC/Universitas 21 Innovation Challenge. The world of work is changing rapidly, and it is important for students to consider the global economic, social, and employment trends identified in PwC's Workforce of the Future report.’ 

‘As the next generation of executives, we have an opportunity to leverage these trends proactively to cultivate positive change: to strengthen the businesses we lead (or create), to open doors for employees we support, and to benefit the societies where we live.’ 

‘I am excited for the changes the future will bring, and I look forward to my experience with PwC in Dubai.’ 

U21 Provost, Professor Bairbre Redmond said: ‘My warmest congratulations to all who participated and also thanks to the staff in the U21 member universities who encouraged and supported students to prepare their responses to the challenge. All competitors put forward high-quality, well-articulated thoughts in their videos and it was a pleasure to hear their ideas on the future of the world of work. I hope that their prizes and the online opportunities that will be provided to all who participated help them to prepare for rewarding careers.’ 

An international judging panel comprising PwC Partners and their client CEOs were asked to judge from entries from eight of U21’s member institutions. Judges included Patricia Hernandez (Director, Organization Development) and Laurent Matthys (Vice President Human Resources India, Middle East & Africa) both of Emerson Climate Technologies, joined by Joseph K Ho (Director - South East Asian Consulting) from PwC. 

The runners up, Wing Tung Cheng from University of Hong Kong and Aloka Wijesooriya from McMaster University (see video below) will receive exclusive coaching sessions with the PwC Academy, tailored to their career needs. Wing Tung expressed her gratitude on being selected: 

‘The future of work is a topic that links with all of us. I am pleased and humbled to accept the award and look forward to receive the coaching session with the PwC Academy which will for sure benefit me.’ Scroll down for the runners up presentations.

Sally Jeffery, Partner and Global Education Network Leader at PwC Middle East, was impressed with the calibre of students who entered, saying ‘It was again a real pleasure to view the responses of the students in round B. They were all so polished and clear in their thinking and it's so encouraging to witness how optimistic they are about the opportunities ahead of them; their universities should be very proud of them. Our judges found it very rewarding too and we look forward to supporting the winner and runners up with their career preparations.’ 

The next group round (C) of the Innovation Challenge will open on Monday 21 January 2019; this challenge will include U21 institutions in Europe, South Africa and California.  


Wing Tung Cheng (University of Hong Kong) - Runner Up


Aloka Wijesooriya (McMaster University) - Runner Up