PwC Trust Builders Challenge 2021

Challenge highlights

On 30 April 2021, 10 finalist teams came together virtually in a race to the top spot at the PwC Trust Builders Challenge 2021 Finals.

After weeks of hard work, the teams were ready to tackle questions from our panel of judges. Prior to the virtual meeting, the judges had reviewed and scored the teams’ solutions for rebuilding trust for our fictional business, Full Meal. Due to the virtual format of this year's challenge, the teams were requested to deliver their solutions in a video presentation. Team Fourte won first place, while Confianzaaa and Team R.O.L.E took joint second place.

Our 10 finalists were shortlisted from over 150 submissions received in March 2021. As this year’s challenge was fully virtual, we took the opportunity to also reach Malaysian undergraduates and diploma students in the UK and Australia to join the challenge together with those in Malaysia.

Throughout their journey to the finals, the 10 finalist teams were supported by assigned mentors—a PwC professional and an industry professional. We also provided additional support to the teams through a series of workshops in video creation and design thinking.

The situation: a whole foods startup in an ESG and trust crisis

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to the magnitude of disruptions we could face if we remain idle towards issues on sustainability. With society and business starting to recognise the pressing need to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, we felt it was important to engage our youth in the ESG discourse.

What did our participants learn about ESG and sustainability?

“During the challenge, not only were we quantifying our impact, we were also tailoring and categorising our solution in a structured manner using the ESG pillars to address very important issues in the case study.”

John Woo, Confianzaaa

“We hope that some of the Malaysian firms would really take note of ESG because there are consumer segments that are paying close attention to what the companies are aspiring to do.”

Tan Shu Hwey, Team Fourte

What about trust?

Did our participants’ awareness of the importance of trust in business change after taking part in the challenge? Since 2017, we’ve been seeing positive shifts in this area. And results of this year’s poll reaffirmed our effort in moving the needle on trust among our youth.

Our mentors shared the same sentiment: 9 out of 10 mentors said that working with their team changed their perspectives on our youth’s understanding of the issue of trust.

“The team's ability to come up with and present their solution to building trust surprised me since they have no working experience and are so young.”

A mentor of Trust Builders Challenge 2021

The winning strategies

Team Fourte

The team impressed our judges with a practical solution that balanced the need for change internally with the need to rebuild external trust perceptions. The team also provided clear references and third-party viewpoints to support their proposal.

During the Q&A with our judges, the team addressed questions about manpower trade-offs when setting up a new sustainability department, and how they would employ technology to enhance transparency and accountability of Full Meal’s carbon footprints in their supply chain.

We caught up with Team Fourte after the challenge. Watch the interview below.

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Confianzaaa proposed a comprehensive plan to rebuild trust for Full Meal that covered the short, medium and long term. The team used a combination of research, surveys and focus group discussions with a range of stakeholders (including representatives from local private equity firms) to validate their solutions. This gave our judges confidence that the team’s solution could work.

Our judges quizzed the team on potential supply chain disruptions in the short term and whether the team had considered the correlation between the various micro strategies proposed.

We caught up with Confianzaaa after the challenge. Watch the interview below.

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Team R.O.L.E

A key feature in Team R.O.L.E’s solution was capacity building. They proposed an ‘eco-prosperity’ initiative to help suppliers achieve sustainable farming. This piqued our judges’ interest. The team also impressed our judges with their news bulletin-style presentation.

In the Q&A session, the team used results from the survey they conducted to address our judges’ questions about short-term supply chain disruptions and potential cost escalation as a result of removing non-compliant suppliers.

We caught up with Team R.O.L.E after the challenge. Watch the interview below.

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Judges’ observations

In the judges’ room on finals day, clockwise from top left: Datin Seri Sunita Rajakumar, Founder, Climate Governance Malaysia (CGM); Herbert Chua, Assurance Partner, PwC Malaysia; Shahliza Rafiq, Marketing and Communications Lead, PwC Malaysia; Nurul A’in Abdul Latif, Markets Leader and Assurance Partner, PwC Malaysia; Pauline Ho, Partner and Building Trust Programme Sponsor, PwC Malaysia; Dr. Sean O. Ferguson, Associate Dean, Asia School of Business (ASB) Malaysia

Our judges recognised the extensive research and effort that the teams had put into developing their solutions to rebuild trust for Full Meal. It was a close race and the judges had a tough time choosing the winners. What was the X factor our judges were looking for in their ultimate Trust Builders?

For Datin Seri Sunita, it’s about first demonstrating a grounded understanding of the nature of Full Meal’s business and the potential damage supply chain failures could cause to the environment. Technical considerations such as the applicable standards and resource allocation should be addressed next.

Besides looking for a sound solution, Nurul and Sean also emphasised the importance of storytelling. A good solution should be able to explain how the various components would link up to help Full Meal regain the trust of their customers.

As for Herbert, breadth and pragmatism were key. A plan that considered internal organisation and external perspectives, executed through a series of practical solutions, would be a winning strategy.

Lessons learnt about trust and ESG

“A number of teams incorporated blockchain in their solutions. I think the core issue here is supply chain, and alternatives such as capacity building and forging strong partnerships should be considered before technology investments.”

Datin Seri Sunita Rajakumar, Founder, Climate Governance Malaysia

“Besides directing your efforts externally, it’s equally important to build trust from within - by setting the right tone from the top and having proper accountability frameworks that will guide people in the organisation to do the right thing.”

Herbert Chua, Assurance Partner, PwC Malaysia

“If we’re honest and do things based on our ethics and values, I think that’s how customers and stakeholders will be able to see that you are a trustworthy business.”

Timothy Ooi Xian Ming, Confianzaaa

Shahliza Rafiq

Head of Business Development Centre, PwC Malaysia

+60 (3) 2173 0728


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