The team: David Kagan, MBA/MPH 15; Jennifer Wong, M. Engin. 15; Champ Suthipongchai, MBA 15; and Eric Fischer and Emily Mou, both MPH 15.
The Field: A total of 32 teams applied, from which 11 were selected to compete. They represented four countries and nine schools, including Cambridge, University of Chicago Booth, Rutgers, and Mexico’s IPADE Business School.
The challenge: Teams were tasked with determining how to allocate funding to reduce childhood mortality from pneumonia in developing countries, particularly Uganda.
The winning approach: “We took the classic design-thinking innovation approach, which allowed us to focus on what the patient experience was like, to be able to really craft solutions that worked within the context of a third-world culture,” says Kagan. “The idea of design thinking is that you spend most of your time trying to understand who your customer is and what their needs are. In this case, we labeled five major points in a mother’s journey for trying to take care of a sick child. Our plan was about trying to create mobile medical clinics and empowering villages with trained health care providers to improve local access to health care.”
What made them winners: Judges lauded the Haas team’s insight into the patient experience and innovative approach to economic sustainability via micro-financing.
The H factor: “Haas really teaches you how to think outside the box,” said Kagan. “If you break down a problem through the eyes of a customer and not through the eyes of yourself, you can generate a much more creative solution to help that customer.” (This is the third time a team from Haas won the competition; Haas teams also won in 2007 and 2013.)
Why it matters: Pneumonia is the leading case of childhood mortality worldwide, killing an estimated 1.1 million children under the age of five every year—more than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.