Enactus World Cup: Judging Experience - Hannah Dobson, Enactus DCU Alumna

Hannah Dobson, Enactus DCU alumni and VP of Entertainment & Media at Enterprise Ireland shares her experience of judging at this years Enactus World Cup in San José!

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‘Judges, can I ask you to welcome the team from Enactus….

As a student as part of the presenting team, you hardly hear those words as someone opens the door to the conference room and you begin to walk towards to the stage, taking one final glance at your outfit and doing your absolute best to control the nerves brewing inside. As a judge, I turned around eagerly to watch the team as they enter the room with all the exuberance and pride of a group of incredible students who have travelled from far and wide for this exact moment.
I think I may have smiled a little brighter than the other judges as the team stood on the stage looking down at us. I think I may have been more enthusiastic in my “Thank you very much” as the students handed me their annual reports. I think I may have a clapped a little louder and a little longer at the end of each of presentation. And I think I did this because I know exactly what these students are feeling. I know how it feels to have 17 minutes to show everything your team has worked on for over the last three weeks, three months, three years. I know how it feels to worry that one of the judges will notice that one tiny mistake in your annual brochure. I know how the length of the three minute tech check ahead of the presentation can feel like either a lifetime, or a blip, depending on how your laptop reacts to being plugged into the AV system.

As a founding member of the Enactus DCU team, I was lucky enough to be involved in Enactus from 1st year right through to final year. My involvement had a hugely positive impact on my time as a student and has continued to benefit me in my early professional career. After graduating in 2016, I spent two years working for Enterprise Ireland in San Francisco, as part of their International Graduate Program, and then progressed into a Market Advisor role in the same office. When I heard that the Enactus World Cup would be coming to San Jose, I was excited to participate in my first World Cup as part of the alumni network and judge and even more excited for it to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, my home away from home.

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Having the opportunity to judge at the World Cup, made me realise the following three things:

1. How clearly the scoring process is explained to judges. The Enactus judging criterion is: “Which Enactus team most effectively used entrepreneurial action to empower people to improve their livelihoods in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way”. The organisers reiterate this statement to the judge’s multiple times during orientation and it is written at the top of each evaluation form.

After each team presented, no matter how flashy or exciting their presentation was, I went back and read over that statement to see if their projects fit the criterion. I would urge all Enactus teams to be as thorough with this statement, ensuring every project fits the criterion.

2. How important it is to have a clear and concise annual report. Yes, its nice to have lots of photographs and a nice design but remember there are only three minutes in the set-up period. Take 30-60 seconds away for all judges to receive the annual reports and another 30 seconds for judges to look at the front cover and glance at the pictures. Then, if you have three projects, that leaves 30 or so seconds for the judges to read about each project. With limited time, judges need to see three things from each project. Where the team saw opportunity, how they took action, and how those actions are empowering people to improve their livelihoods. I would encourage all teams to design their annual brochures with these three actions laid out as clearly as possible. Don’t complicate it.

3. The final thing I noticed was how truly incredible each and every team was. I think sometimes as a student, you can get wrapped up in it all, worrying that your PowerPoint isn’t as animated as others, stressing about perfecting your lines, or comparing yourselves to teams who have competing for years. Remember that you are improving more livelihoods than the majority of third-level students, and you are certainly doing more for your communities than most of the judges in the room and you are doing all of this on top of your coursework!

We are blown away by your hard-work and enthusiasm. Whether you get to Opening Round of National Competition, or Final Round at World Cup, you should be extremely proud and give yourself a huge pat on the back, because, to use the Enactus slogan, ‘When we compete to change lives, we all win’.’

If you missed out on being in San José for the World Cup, you can catch up on photos here and watch Ireland in the Opening & Semi-Final Round of Competition here!

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Liam Redmond