For budding food entrepreneurs, design thinking is the essential skill for the future

Here's how you can learn it and put the skill to the test 

Starting a business is not as easy as people think. Many have this crazy notion of just leaving the job they no longer want, aiming to be the boss, investing money on their startup brand, and they're off to the yellow brick road of success. Unfortunately, that is a bedtime story. What really happens next is sustaining things, which is far harder, and then comes business decisions to make as a group, which are never a breeze. 

While all that has been said are quite negative, don't take this as a cautionary tale. Take this as a challenge. Today, the pandemic has pushed everyone to take the leap and be the captain as many food businesses began to pop out everywhere. Although many thrived, the future of these businesses is still uncertain. To help many budding entrepreneurs make big things out of their startups, many business professionals advise them to learn design thinking. 

A tool many big brands use, design thinking offers many benefits to business operation. As Forbes defined it, "design thinking combines creative and critical thinking." Unlike regular brainstorming sessions, it helps put things into proper alignment, drawing maps for the future, spotlighting the right problems, highlighting customer needs, and making team meetings more productive. 

That is what food giant Mondelēz International wants to share with young business professionals, the power of design thinking through its Leading Edge Business Challenge. Running from April to June 2021, it's an opportunity for graduate and postgraduate university students across Southeast Asia to learn design thinking and apply it to solve business concerns.

"We're offering students the chance to learn a new skill—design thinking—that we consider an essential skill for the future. In the Mondelēz International Leading Edge Business Challenge, they will apply this learning as they explore the fast-growing snacks category in Southeast Asia and solve current business issues," said Shiela Pangilinan, people lead for Mondelez Philippines. “This challenge creates an opportunity for students to come up with ideas that support sustainable business growth."

The virtual competition gives students access to learning labs where they'll be using design thinking across various stages—empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test. They will compete in teams of three to four members from the same university to respond to live business challenges. Teams will also have access to senior business leaders, and have the opportunity to win cash prizes and share their ideas through country and Southeast Asia region "showdowns." The winners of the Southeast Asia Showdown can be fast-tracked into Mondelēz International's early careers programs—either to final interview in the Edge Stars program or with a final offer in the Edge Sparks program.

"This is a great opportunity for students to use their natural curiosity, growth mindset, fresh thinking, and openness to experiment," Shiela said. "It also enables us to shape the talent of the future further, by providing learning labs, access to new skills, and coaching in a business environment. The winning solutions could create a big and real impact for Mondelēz International through the challenge.”

Interested university students can find out more at Mondelēz International Leading Edge Business Challenge. Registrations close on April 16, 2021.