How we challenged the best in Europe … together

Event Management BA (Hons) student Maria Taneva was part of our five-strong team who travelled to the Netherlands to challenge the best in Europe in the EMCup 2019, an annual competition for hotel management schools.

High standards

The EMCup is described as a competition among the best European hotel management schools for a reason. Professionalism and high standards were the centrepiece of the two days in Maastricht we spent competing against 35 other teams.

Everyone was there to show their best game and so were we! Our team of five international students had much to offer in terms of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. We all learned so much and experienced two days of excitement and challenges.

There is a proverb saying: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And that is what guided us through our journey.

Our journey begins

We set off at 6.30am on a fresh Saturday morning. The drive to the airport was practically as long as the flight itself – 50 minutes or so. One of the shortest flights we’d all had ever had. It was the train ride that had us wishing for instant transportation. Translation was vague on the train and we needed a brisk run to move to a different carriage or we’d have got to Maastricht the day after!

The NH Hotel really helped us relax after the 10-hour journey and the hotel accommodation was fantastic. That evening we went to a pre-competition drink to meet all the other teams and start the continuous networking process. The atmosphere and energy at that event was amazing! You could read excitement on everybody’s faces in so many different forms. There were people not just from Europe but so many other places – America, Africa, Asia. It was a chance like no other to get to know them all.

Vibrant activities

Our first day was very vibrant and full of activities and networking. We were challenged to collaborate with many different people whether for just five minutes or a full hour. We had a MapsTell workshop based on a personality test we were asked to do before the event. In it, we explored the map of human behaviour and we were challenged to act out different personalities in different contexts. The experience is aimed at generating higher awareness among students regarding themselves and others.

After this, all teams were separated and mixed. Now, in teams of four or five, different people, from different schools and countries had to create an idea to solve a problem and pitch it in front of the jury – all in about 50 minutes.

I cannot say that it wasn’t stressful but this is where the energetic mindset that the hosts install in you should be used. If you do not get out of your comfort zone, you waste your ‘golden ticket’. We had to opportunity to learn without fear of consequences that it is not always about the work you produce but rather the approach you take to work with people.

It’s all about the team

The second day was all about team work. We were put in various scenarios to test our ability to work together, coherently and efficiently. Whether it’s a pre-prepared pitch, a pitch prepared for half an hour or a debate in front of all 300 participants – it is all about the team! We were nervous, so much that, out of three minutes that we could use for our pitch, we only used two! But we learned so much about ourselves, teamwork, networking and communication. At the end all we were ALL one big family that shared an experience of a lifetime!

We started out in the top 12 and we held our ground throughout. We scored high on our pitches and proceeded to the next round – the debate, otherwise called the Knock-out! It was then that we were basically, well, knocked out. The other team beat us by no more than 3%.

Common goal

Everyone took the stage with a bang and I was proud of my team. So were our academic coaches, Tony Loynes and Ewen Crilley. We regretted not making it to the finals but we all lived for the moment of seeing our University’s name appear on the screen. We all shared a common goal to make the University of Derby stand out, and we achieved it. We ended up finishing in the top 18. Where exactly, there’s no way of telling.

I want to personally thank Ewelina Wisniewska, representing Poland, Lara Gračiš from Croatia and José Valente and Nádia Ferreira from Portugal – you guys made the trip what it is. I can confidently say that our team matured from a seed to a mighty oak! You made this team great and together we marched towards victory. We may have not gone to the end but we got far and we got there … together!

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