Dash Hack is a weekend-long case competition, where multidisciplinary teams use Design Thinking as a problem-solving framework to solve complex challenges from partner companies. This year, there were a total of 40 teams and 4 challenges. 10 teams were assigned to each challenge.
Our team was tasked with a challenge from Sumitomo SHI FW, a global provider of solutions and services that drive the decarbonization of energy. The challenge at hand was, “How to leverage megatrends in the energy sector to discover new business opportunities?”. The teams would help Sumitomo SHI FW to develop their current offering or invent new business opportunities to take advantage of megatrends.
The Dash organizers thoughtfully assembled teams with a mix of backgrounds and expertise. Our team consisted of four master students with diverse backgrounds: one in Energy Storage, one in Creative Sustainability (Design), one in Materials Science, and one in Business & Data Analytics (that’s me). While I initially felt I had the least relevant background for the challenge, we soon realized that our differences were our strengths, and each team member brought invaluable perspectives to the table.
In the end, we presented an out-of-the-box idea to Sumitomo: the recycling of solar panel waste for a decarbonized future. This concept resonated strongly with Sumitomo’s strategic vision for the present and future. We received high praise from Sumitomo, to the extent that they didn’t even need to cast a vote for the winning team—the decision was evident to them.
When I joined the hackathon, my primary goal was to gain valuable experience, so winning the competition was an unexpected bonus. I cherished the opportunity to connect with new people, learn from others (including team members, mentors, and company representatives), and work on complex business problems. Moreover, I realized how much I have grown professionally as I learned to approach the case not only from the surface-level issues but also from a deeper, strategic perspective. I gained a profound understanding of the significance of teamwork, team dynamics, and team diversity. It became clear how individuals from diverse backgrounds can contribute unique values and insights. Additionally, I now can understand why my team won! I have my own answers to questions like what could be the criteria the judges considered when selecting the winning solution and team, and how our proposal was better than other teams.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Dash Hack 2023. It was a memorable weekend of learning, collaboration, and growth.