Winning Approaches: IBM/Novartis NCD Challenge


The Team: Tara English, MBA 13, and Emily Ewell, Jenny Chang, and Rachel Sherman, all MBA/MPH 12.

The Outcome: First place in the “Developing World” category.

The Field: Sixteen teams, including those from Spain's ESADE and the London Business School.

The Challenge: To create a tech-enabled innovation in non-communicable diseases. “This was extremely open ended as there are so many diseases, making it challenging to target a specific, actionable area where we could achieve maximum impact," says Ewell.

The Winning Approach: A proposal for 2Vidas, a pharmacy membership program in Mexico for low- to middle-income pregnant women with diabetes that would provide access, community, and encouragement to improve health for mom and baby.

Won Because: The team's "2-for-1" approach impacts the health of both mothers in the short-term and babies in the longer term. Judges also touted the proposal for its focus on a confined timeframe of behavior change—pregnancy. “This is a highly motivated population that's easy to target, track, and measure," Ewell observes. And the team impressed with a decision to test hypotheses first-hand in Mexico.

The H Factor:“Our team was definitely the strongest contribution to our success, which is in so many ways due to the Haas culture," says Ewell. "This was really an 'all for one and one for all' effort."

Defining Principles at Work: “We were fearless in our quest to find an innovative solution for the NCD Challenge, but we were also the first to ask for help,” says Ewell of a Confidence Without Attitude approach that led them to reach out to friends, healthcare colleagues, and mentors. “Taking a step back and listening to their perspective was not only refreshing, but enlightening.”

The Motivation: At the end of the day this isn't for us - it's for women with diabetes and for their children, families, and communities,” says Ewell. “All of us were motivated by the final impact of creating a sustained impact on communities in need - in a scalable, replicable way.”

2Vidas hope to launch a pilot this summer in Mexico City.

About The Author

From 2011-2013, Valerie Gilbert focused on sharing stories of Berkeley MBA student achievements and connection to the Haas Defining Principles. At Haas since 2004 and now Associate Director of Content Marketing, she still enjoys revealing the different facets of life at Berkeley-Haas to a variety of audiences.