Image of Business Instructional Facility

Jan 29, 2021 2021-01 Business Administration Student

Gies iMBA teams tackle COVID-19 case competition

Editor’s note: As part of the iMBA’s fifth anniversary celebration, we are featuring snapshots of students and some of the unique and rewarding activities they pursue as part of the program.

Two Gies College of Business iMBA teams made the shortlist of the 18th Annual Kellogg Biotech and Healthcare Case Competition. They tackled the topic of building trust for the COVID-19 vaccine and competed for one of four slots in the finals with teams from 16 schools, including Harvard Business School, University of Chicago (Booth) and University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).

“This is the first time any of us have worked together – in a day or two we pulled together a team,” said Smita Jha, who is based in Oman, along with Nilay Das, her mentor in the program, Ahmad Affandi (Jakarta) and Cher Som (Illinois).

“Over the next 10 days we gave our best to research, be creative, and analyze. The healthcare industry was new to me, but I was able to apply the newly honed skills and knowledge to multi-dimensional problem-solving to address,” said Das.

“Because we are from different parts of the world we quickly identified a way to work across time zones. Then we quickly had to understand everyone’s work style to create a cross-functional team across marketing, healthcare, regulations, business and IT,” said Som. “This helped remove common biases that can impede the decision-making process.”

Working on the case gave the team a better understanding of what Business on Purpose means. Affandi said he saw how what we do for work can create an interwoven connection to everyone’s lives and why it’s important to strive to serve them better.

Jyoti Pugalia, a member of the second semi-finalist team, is based in Nashville and works in the healthcare industry. She jumped on the opportunity as soon as she saw it on Workplace, the iMBA’s information sharing platform.

“Taking classes like entrepreneurship and marketing, as well as our team’s diverse background, both geographically and professionally, allowed us to address problems more creatively and propose innovative solutions,” said Jyoti Pugalia. Her team members included Ayesha Tahir (Pakistan), Shatakshi Awasthi (Pennsylvania) and U.S. classmates Rahul Sethiya (Texas) and Narayan Cheruvu (Illinois).