WSP USA Team ‘Just Crazy Enough’ to Win Second Enginuity Title

One year after becoming the first U.S. team to win the Enginuity competition, a team from WSP USA has repeated as the champions of the international leadership competition.

The three-member team, calling themselves “Just Crazy Enough to Work,” scored a solid victory over nearly 200 teams from engineering and construction businesses around the world, becoming the first team to win the international title for a second time.

Vincent T. Favale, Joseph Salvo and Brendan Tyler, all from the building systems group in the New York City office, participated in Enginuity 2018, a competition that simulates “real world” challenges that corporate management faces every day, and where teams earn points for their successful decisions.

“We knew that a repeat would be a daunting task in such a large field, but we were determined to show that last year was no fluke,” Salvo said. “Winning was the bar for success this year – we weren’t going to be happy with anything less. We’re thrilled we were able to follow through and bring home another victory.”

Favale, Salvo and Tyler comprised one of more than 50 international teams from WSP that participated in this year’s challenge.

Last year they were also members of “Never Tell Me the Odds,” the team that won Enginuity 2017 and became the first U.S. team to earn the title of grand champion.

The Challenge Begins

Each team began the facing the same computer-simulated challenge: “A UK-based global construction business that has only been in existence for one year needs a new management team to run the company for the foreseeable future. The company operates in a number of sectors, with jobs, clients, rival competitors and people worldwide.”

Actions taken from that point onward are up to the individual teams.

Each team devises a business strategy that involved understanding of the economic environment where the company operates, and the strengths and weaknesses of the business. Competing teams made strategic decisions based on financial management, overhead management, procurement and job progression.

The business was impacted by computer-simulated world events, economic changes, environmental impacts, clients, project managers, rival competitors and other elements often experienced by similar organizations. Success or failure depended on the decisions each team made in several key business areas.

In each round, they received team-specific data detailing the company’s current situation, and made decisions in four categories: financial, marketing, procurement and progression (hiring). The standings were based on the sum of 10 key performance indicators (KPI).

“The KPI formulas are set up so that each decision is a trade-off, and you don’t always see the benefit right away,” Salvo said. “Decisions that improve your bottom line in the short term could lead to long-term problems, and vice-versa. Thinking ahead two or three periods is necessary to avoid major trouble, and we worked that into our decision-making and calculations.”

New Angles

The teams competed in eight preliminary rounds from March through May in the hopes of qualifying for one of 12 places in the final. Those top teams then battled for another six rounds over two weeks in late May to determine the 2018 international champion.

The finals require tough decision-making in a short window of time. Experience in these pressure moments from last year may have helped “Just Crazy Enough to Work” maintain a steady, successful approach to the situations they faced.

"We knew from last year that resources were going to be limited and volatile. On top of that, this year's final rounds omitted information about rival bidders that was central to our previous strategy. We suddenly had to search for new angles to gain an edge over our competition."

“Just Crazy Enough to Work" finished the preliminary rounds of the contest in first place, but with several teams right on their heels looking to overtake them for the title. Though the first two rounds saw them drop as low as third place, they rebounded at the halfway point and never looked back. By the finish, they had amassed a winning score of 3,325 points, more than 200 higher than their closest rival, ensuring that the championship title would remain with WSP for another year.

Throughout the competition the team made its initial calculations in a few hours, but spent the rest of their time carefully analyzing the data and debating what the numbers meant. Some actions were determined by formulas, while others were gut-checking judgment calls.

As in the real world, trust in your collaborators was critical to the team’s success.

“Fortunately, we have all worked together on projects, not to mention working together as a successful team last year. That gave us the level of trust that makes a team work,” Tyler said.

“It paints a bigger picture of our industry,” Favale said. “You get a feel for different parts of the construction process, and how different factors can impact a project, both good and bad.”

The runner-up teams in the competition included "Birdies in The Sky" from the Robert Bird Group, Australia in second place; "Jersey Geoengineers" from Parsons Corporation, U.S. in third place; and "STANdout TEChnologies AU" from Stantec, Australia in fourth place. “Winning Second Place”, another team from WSP USA to qualify for the final, began in 12th place but improved to ninth by the competition’s end.

©2018 WSP USA

Vincent T. Favale, Joseph Salvo and Brendan Tyler (from left to right) display their 2017 and 2018 Enginuity awards. They are the first repeat champions of the international competition.

What Does the Future Hold?

This marked the third time Salvo participated in the Enginuity competition, and the second time for Favale and Tyler. Salvo was also previously part of the second-place team in Enginuity 2016.

Salvo, an electrical engineer, is involved with multiple U.S. projects worldwide, including high-profile projects in Mexico City, Athens, and New Delhi. He is also involved with the ongoing expansion and renovation projects at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

Tyler, a plumbing/fire protection engineer, is also involved with the New Dehli project, as well as 50 Hudson, the Tin Building, and the new USTA Louis Armstrong Stadium set to make its U.S. Open debut next week.

Favale, also a plumbing/fire protection engineer, is involved in several high-profile projects, including work for Mohegan Sun, Wells Fargo Center, and redevelopment in Jersey City, New Jersey.

“It is very satisfying to represent our company and our country internationally and bring home the championship for a second time,” Salvo said. “It wasn’t easy to repeat, facing challengers that never gave up. We are proud that we could rise to the occasion and keep WSP at the top.”

So now the big question: Will we see their names again in next year’s competition? The answer appears to be both yes and no.

“We quickly decided that we wanted to go out on top and would not be competing next year,” Salvo said. “However, the competition’s organizers felt it appropriate to recognize our unique achievement with a unique reward: Starting next year, we will be included as project managers in the simulation. So while you won’t see us on the leaderboard, we will still be part of the competition for many years to come.”

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