International Mediation Competition: My Journey

This post is the second in a two-part series on student experiences competing at the Annual International Chamber of Commerce Mediation Competition, which takes place in February each year. Monash law students have the opportunity to participate by enrolling in International Commercial Dispute Resolution and expressing interest in participating in the competition. Participants undergo comprehensive training and preparation with expert mentors before competing in a series of mock mediations in Paris.

Monash has been successfully sending teams to the ICC Mediation competition for the last few years. In 2014, the Monash team came runners up. In 2015, the Monash team won the ICC Award for best mediation plan. In 2016 the Monash team placed third overall.

Punam Roopra, Shalaka Parekh, Caroline Marton and Sarwar Haji were competitors on the 2017 Monash team at the 12th Annual ICC Mediation Competition in Paris in February. Read on to learn more about Shalaka’s experience. 

The 2017 Monash Team and their coaches at the ICC Mediation Competition

The ICC Mediation Competition has changed my perspective on negotiating and what it means to strike a bargain. Before participating in the competition, I was used to the stubborn street vendor style bargaining. I thought my years of experience winning petty arguments with siblings and friends had prepared me to succeed in negotiations. I soon realised that I was wrong! Through participating in the competition, I learnt that there was a more reasonable and effective way to resolve disputes.

As part of our training for the competition, I was introduced to ‘interest-based negotiation,’ which has been eye-opening for me. This approach does not require you to lower your guard and compromise your interests to reach a solution. Rather, interest-based negotiation mandates that whilst keeping your interests in mind, you also consider the other party’s interests and perspectives. This approach relies on empathy as the key to unlocking a mutually beneficial solution. Interest-based negotiation infuses logic, reason and psychology, and is gaining traction in the ADR world. It is also a useful approach for students to apply back home.

I believe that the knowledge and skills gained from preparing for and competing in the ICC Competition are transferable to everyday life. For me, there have been many take-homes from this experience. I’ve learnt that it is importance to listen and be empathetic towards others. The most challenging aspect for me was discovering that I need to overcome self-doubt and be bold in pursuing my interests, by “turning the spotlight on the other side” (Anne & Peter).

Although I am still working on improving my skills in this area, I have returned from the competition with much greater self-awareness. This self-awareness and the skills gained from the competition training have improved the way that I problem-solve and tackle disputes in both my professional and personal life.

Coaching and Teamwork  

Students participating in the competition received the full attention of our dedicated and experienced coaches, Anne and Peter. Throughout our ICC journey, they supported our personal development and progress.

We had four coaching sessions with Anne and Peter and four separate team sessions. This extra time was useful for team bonding and for implementing the feedback we received in our coaching sessions. With this level of preparation and high levels of excitement, we departed for Paris.

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Preliminary Rounds

The four preliminary rounds of the competition were tough. We had regular debriefs before and feedback sessions after each mediation. Stress and anxiety levels were high. I had the habit of sneaking out between sessions for cheeky croissants and coffees (I mean…with all the beautiful cafes and bakeries in Paris, how could you not?).

The competition and beyond

The most difficult day for the team was when the 16 finalists were announced. Initially, when we realised that our team had not progressed, we were all in shock. We experienced the full spectrum of emotions: Anger, frustration, denial and acceptance. In an attempt to cope with these emotions, I decided to take advantage of the free-flowing champagne and food. However, when the bar closed, the reality slowly started to sink in. We did not get through to the finals.

They say one’s character is truly tested in moments of failure. Despite the disappointing outcome, the Monash Team was up at 6am next morning to watch the final rounds. We decided to make the most of our ICC experience by attending other mediation sessions and learning from the other teams. Most other teams that didn’t make the finals were either hungover, resting from the exhausting preliminary rounds or using their free time to explore Paris. We were the only full team that turned up the morning (at 7am sharp) to observe and learn from the final rounds.

This drive and resilience really encapsulates the ethos of Team Monash. This is why I would highly encourage students to enrol in International Commercial Dispute Resolution and express interest for the ICC Competition.


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