As part of Constellation Brand’s dedication to empowering distinct employee populations, the Early Career Professionals (ECP) Business Resource Group works to offer professional development opportunities and strong business networks to employees younger in their careers. The ECP Case Competition is a key component of the group, providing learning and development opportunities to a varied network of employees who are passionate about the company and its values.

Participants in the program work together in cross-functional teams to address a real-world business challenge, dedicating several weeks to brainstorming, developing, and then presenting their solutions to a panel of senior leadership. The winning team receives a prize and the opportunity to consult if the idea is implemented.

After launching in 2018 with 28 employees in Chicago, the program has now grown to include over 100 employees across the organization. This year's winning team, Gr8 Innovations (Allie Rescsanski, Danielle Nash, Lizzete Castillo Moreno and Brett Joswiak) and their mentor, Lisa Fritz, director, commercial planning, shared insights on the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned during the competition.

Why is the Early Career Professional Case Competition such an important part of supporting early career professionals and the overall culture at Constellation Brands?

Lisa: No matter what someone’s background is, the ECP Case Competition stretches each team member to think differently and flex in new ways they may not have previously done. It also expands their network and visibility in the organization.

Why did you decide to become a mentor for the program?

Lisa: When I was in our Executive Development Program a few years ago, my coach was inspiring and helped steer us in the right direction without telling us how to get there. I thought the ECP Case Competition was a great way to give back and apply what I learned in the EDP Program.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the ECP Case Competition?

Danielle: While winning the ECP Case Competition was incredible, for me, the most rewarding piece of feedback we received was hearing that the judges could see how much fun our team had based on our presentation! We had a blast getting to know our teammates from other divisions across the country while collaborating to propose an innovative solution to a business challenge. I like to think that teams who have fun together produce better results, and our team’s success at this year’s ECP Case Competition only reinforced this belief!

Brett: The most rewarding part of the case competition was the comradery of our team. We are all in different parts of the organization and we were able to lean on each other’s strengths throughout the project.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the ECP Case Competition and how did you overcome it?

Brett: The biggest challenge was how to take a good idea and make it great! We had to make sure everything that we presented was better. We had to know, and own, the entire process from the beginning stage to our multiyear plan. We had a great coach in Lisa, whom we could share ideas with and who would challenge and support us as we moved through the process.

Allie: While each member of our team brought forth different experiences and knowledge, there were still some aspects of the case that we had no idea how to approach. Stepping out of our comfort zone and leaning on our broader networks allowed us to learn quickly and apply our strategy with confidence.

What is something you learned during the ECP Case Competition that you will carry forth in your career?

Danielle: I loved taking a step back and seeing how my team brought together very distinct skill sets, combined with a common attitude of positivity, and was able to produce strong work. From now on, I will seek out diverse teams and challenge myself to see what every individual brings to the table in pursuit of delivering the best business results.

Lizette: I learned two key lessons from this competition that I’m sure I’ll carry with me throughout my career. First, I learned that even when I’m skeptical of my own abilities, I can contribute a great deal if I just lean into my strengths. Second, and most importantly, when my own experience falls short, the team will come through! This victory was truly a team effort, and Gr8 Innovations turned out to be a cross-functional dream team. I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish by working together.