MBA Team Takes 1st Place at Microsoft Innovation Challenge

Microsoft team win_688.jpg
By Elspeth Ong, Thomas Chevallier, and Risa Shen, FTMBA 18
The Win: 1st place at the Microsoft Business Innovation Challenge Finals in New York, December 9, 2016
The Team: (above, left to right) Elspeth Ong,Thomas Chevallier, and Risa Shen, MBA 18
The Field: Thirteen teams from top US MBA programs pitched an app idea based on two prompts: What should Microsoft do next with its built-in app portfolio to increase relevance in premium devices? and Propose the single most important challenge Microsoft should tackle with all of the resources we have or could build. Each team that placed first in their school round advanced to the finals.
The Pitch:
 We designed an app called Microsoft Hive, which would revolutionize the way people work in teams. At its heart would be Microsoft's AI assistant, Cortana, which would take care of mundane group logistics while enabling teams to focus on higher-order activities. Teams would be able to interact with transcribed meeting notes and content to quickly generate insights from discusssions. Cortana's feedback on each members airtime and emotions could help improve team dynamics and potentially address gender equity issues in work meetings. Meetings could also be seamlessly converted to Augmented Reality through Microsoft HoloLens to make it easier to work across geographic borders.
The Haas Factor:  We applied the design thinking methodology that we learned about at Haas to identify a core problem faced in today's workplace: the difficulty of managing team dynamics. Additionally, we drew on the work we did in Teams@Haas with Lecturer Brandi Pearce, as well as what we learned in our core class Leading People about what makes teams feel psychologically safe. And of course, our Leadership Communication course helped us present with authenticity and conviction.
The Clincher: The judges liked how our idea highlighted the unique qualities of Microsoft premium devices and would get users excited about the whole Microsoft ecosystem, from the Surface Pro to Hololens. Our idea fit with Microsoft's overall mission of enabling people to achieve more.
What will you learn in  the Berkeley MBA program? 
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About The Author

Laura is a senior marketing and communications manager at Berkeley-Haas. As a former journalist, she finds no shortage of interesting stories to tell at Haas. As a Cal alum, she loves being able to walk to work through redwood groves along Strawberry Creek.