Behind the scenes: The Global Challenge of Recruiting Innovators

With more than 300 top MBA programs spanning 6 continents, and nearly 1,000 related graduate programs in engineering, healthcare, or the sciences, it takes a full-time effort for the Innovation Olympics deliver five global, talented, appropriate, and interdisciplinary teams of five students for each sponsor’s challenge every academic quarter.

“It is a large challenge. It helps that we’re the largest, most experienced innovation competition in the world,” says Arnaldo Arnal, manager of the Innovation Olympics student-recruiting efforts. “Fortunately, people know our name, and we’ve developed local knowledge and continuing relationships with clubs and university administrators.”

It also takes a team of 5 people, available each quarter of the year, to renew campus relationships, work the Innovation Olympic’s alumni network, and to track the likely challenges.

“We have relationships with about 300 schools out of more than 800 MBA programs in the world,” continues Arnal, “We focus on top schools, but that definition varies. It is not just about being a top 10 MBA program or even a fixed definition of top 10%.”

Arnal explains that clients need a mix of broad diversity and, sometimes, narrow disciplinary or geographic focus. “For one client, it will be about finding top schools in Latin America or a region within Asia. Other clients are looking for top industry connections. For others, it means finding schools that offer not only MBAs, but also masters or PhD candidates for particular hard science, engineering, or medical field. With overlapping and alternative definitions of what’s best, we find there are about 300 schools that are tops on somebody’s list.”

IXL Innovation Olympics: Key Account Management for student teams’ recruitment


“Mixing things up is also important: Innovation requires fresh perspectives, and clients are not going to get the freshest viewpoints if they keep going back to the same university partners they always turn to.” says Ronald Jonash, who pioneered the Innovation Olympics with early partner Hult International Business School.  “We try to give clients a mix of what they asked for, along with teams that they’d have never have thought to try.”


The same goes for the student teams, Arnal notes, “The students, too, need to stretch themselves. We’re proud to have Global 50 clients like P&G and IBM presenting challenges, but almost by definition, disruptive change can come from companies of almost any size, industry, or heritage, and any organization looking for growth can be a great setting for defining a breakthrough new business.”

In the Summer 2017 cycle of the IXL Innovation Olympics, 7 corporate clients and governmental institutions from the U.S.A., Brasil and Colombia are seeking for innovative solutions and new growth opportunities.

They are working together with almost most 200 talented students from best universities worldwide: Boston University (U.S.A.), University of Chicago (U.S.A.), University of California Berkeley (U.S.A.), Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brasil), CESA (Colombia), London School of Economics and Social Sciences (U.K.), China Europe International Business School (China) and many other distinguished universities.

During the course of the Summer 2017 IXL Innovation Olympics, almost 150 students obtained Innovation Management Certification from Global Innovation Management Institute (GIMI).