Lebanese nationals and fresh engineering graduates of the American University of Beirut Dimitri Khneisser and Abdallah Tannoury have been on the lookout for a job but weren't too keen on a run-of-the-mill 9 to 5 work schedule.
Bursting with innovative ideas and forward-thinking business models, graduates like Dimitri and Abdallah found an outlet to express their ideas for the second edition of the 'Change the Game Challenge', organised by global food and beverage company PepsiCo. "More than just being able to present our ideas, the challenge gave us an opportunity to understand the local market, and come up with a product that has genuine growth potential," said Abdallah.
The beverage company announced the final results of the 'Change the Game Challenge on Wednesday, after several months of tough competition among 6,000 teams from 10 countries in the Mena, India and Asia Pacific region. Unfortunately, up to 23 teams from the UAE who had participated in the event, could not make it to the finals.
Up to 12,000 millennials in the age group of 17- 30 were asked to solve this year's business challenge of starting their own health and nutrition business in the food and beverage industry, in line with PepsiCo's product philosophy. This year's winners were team 'Palette', consisting of Siraphat Phaattarabenjapol and Pattaraporn Sapamnuayporn from Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand. The other finalists from the Mena were Dimitri and Abdallah and the finalist team from India was Advait Shankar and Arjun Rakesh from IIT Chennai.
Dimitri and Abdallah presented their project 'VitaFit', which is a healthy beverage, popular among younger generation. Advait and Arjun presented a probiotic drink 'PinePro' given that probiotics are still nascent in South India. The girls from Thailand, Siraphat and Pattaraporn created healthy crackers like snacks for children. Siraphat said: "We got to start thinking innovatively in a global competition. The fact that we didn't have a healthy snack for kids in Thailand motivated us to come up with the idea."
Pavan Bhatia, senior vice-president, human resources and chief human resources officer, PepsiCo Amena told Khaleej Times the millennials themselves were doing a fantastic job at curating information and are deeply aware of current geopolitical situations, besides being very street smart.
Regional winners from Asia Pacific, Mena and India are offered a job with PepsiCo in their respective regions, and are invited to travel on an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai to compete in the final round to win a one-year- international job offer or a two- months paid international internship within Asia, Mena, and a trip to New York. The finalists can also pitch their business ideas to Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co.
Reporting by Dhanusha Gokulan
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