Deciding under stress encourages quick thinking

in Expresso, 20th of June 2015

Staples Portugal is participating in the competition for the first time with teams of executives.

Over the years Staples Portugal has supported the participation of student teams in the competition. In this edition, the company is going to present teams of its own executives for the very first time. The goal is to develop leadership skills, creativity and innovation among employees, and offer a different challenge from their day-to-day work. “This competition gets participants to think strategically, and often forces them to make decisions under stress. They have to have knowledge of various areas of business and acquire quick thinking, flexibility and dynamism”, explains João Paulo Peixoto, director general of Staples Portugal. The company he heads has been associated with the challenge for twelve years and in this edition, besides supporting student teams, put forward five of its own executive teams, one of which went on to the second round.
João Paulo Peixoto believes that employees who participate reap dividends in the form of personal and professional relationships. They take part in multidisciplinary teams and, for the five weeks of the first round, find the opportunity to get to know each other better, in a different environment, outside the organizational hierarchy. “With this challenge they will further develop their skills in leadership, innovation, creativity, team spirit and excellence”, concludes João Paulo Peixoto.
For Pedro Medeiros, Paulo Fonseca, Vanda Santos, Ana Neno and Elisabete Duarte, all members of the Staples-Force team, participating in the competition has been a learning curve that took them out of their comfort zone. Although they didn’t progress to the second round, when he saw the results, Pedro Medeiros declared that next year “we will be back”.

Overcoming limits
Although they are all rookies, Elisabete Duarte had already come into contact with the competition in her student days. After spending over five weeks managing a company, albeit a virtual one, she says “the game is quite complex, this is a virtual company yet requires a lot in terms of strategic thinking. It’s a great mental workout for staff and they get the opportunity to take decisions in unfamiliar environments”.
For Vanda Santos, the fact that Staples invest in their staff and gave them the opportunity to take part in this initiative shows that it “values its employees and gave us the opportunity to reach a little further than is asked of us on a day-to-day basis, and therefor motivated us”.
In an analysis of the competition itself, Pedro Medeiros says that “the required behaviour and decision-making is based on models that are very close to the reality of the current business environment, allowing us to fall back on our professional experience, but also requiring us to study, to try to go further, and that is the challenge”. An opinion seconded by Ana Neno. Unlike her colleagues who have passed through various departments at Staples, Ana’s work has focused, for now, solely on the commercial area.
“We had to get out of our comfort zone and research other topics. We develop skills in teamwork and I also acquired top view experience. These are inputs I will carry over to my daily work”, says Ana Neno.
In this team, decisions were made jointly, but for this to happen“, we often had to put ourselves ‘in the shoes of other people’ and find arguments to justify our opinion, or else repackage it”, says Paulo Fonseca. This is one of the points that I value the most from the ​​learning I gained over the five weeks of the competition.

Learn more about the participation of the Staples Force from the piece run by

SIC Notícias (TV): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6f3UjCkSOs
Expresso (newspaper) – Article: http://www.sdg.pt/docs/GMC_2015/Artigo_20_Junho_2015.pdf

Text Maribela Freitas
Photo: Alexandre Bordalo

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