Winning Approaches: National Association of Asian MBAs Global Case Competition

The winning Haas team: Riddhiman Ghosh, Neelam Saboo, Edwin Mach, and Adrian Kok

The Competition: National Association of Asian MBAs (NAAMBA) Global Case Competition, Sept. 13-15, sponsored by Facebook and Electronic Arts

The Team: Neelam Saboo, MBA 13, and Edwin Mach, Adrian Kok, and Riddhiman Ghosh, all MBA 14. The team advanced from a July opening round through summer quarter- and semi-finals to the finals, held alongside the NAAMBA Leadership Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Outcome: First place, as deemed by a judging panel that included the Commissioner of President Obama’s White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans.

The Field: Berkeley-Haas squared off against USC’s Marshall School and Brandeis University’s International School of Business in the finals.

The Challenge: “How can Social Media be used to empower marginalized communities?”

The Winning Approach: The team’s Project Telos uses technology to remove barriers to access to social media for refugees and immigrants through affordable recycled mobile phones, commodity text messaging plans, and the use of community facilitators. “Telos helps immigrants find their place in American society by facilitating the creation of personal and professional networks and integration with the labor market,” says Ghosh.

Won Because:  “We had extensive conversations with Bay Area organizations that serve the immigrant and refugee populations and leveraged from their domain expertise in the design of our solution,” says Ghosh. “We were also able to demonstrate viability by signing up early partners who were willing to pilot Telos with their constituencies in the Bay Area.” Says Mach, “Our winning case emphasized that not all business plans need to be for-profit, but a sustainable nonprofit that provides a feasible solution for the target community ultimately came out on top.” Ghosh also notes that all of the team members have a personal connection to the immigrant experience — directly or through immediate family.

The H Factor: “Throughout the initial brainstorming and conception of Telos we relied heavily on the diverging and converging skills learned in the BILD Problem Finding Problem Solving classroom,” notes Ghosh. He also credits the rigorous case analyses in Competitive Strategy with helping the team critically analyze the ecosystem in which Telos would play, and then choose the activities and partnerships with the maximum impact.

Why it Matters: “Every year millions come to the U.S. to pursue dreams for better lives or to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. They make the journey at great personal cost and they face many hurdles trying to integrate into American society, with very little social support in the U.S.” says Ghosh. Adds Saboo, “Haas principles emphasize thinking beyond ourselves and this competition gave us a chance to do something innovative for the marginalized communities.”

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