By Naoki Kitabayashi, Global MBA 2013-2014, United States
The experience was surreal, and it’s still difficult to describe the emotions we felt as we competed for the Hult Prize at the regional final in Shanghai on March 8th. Our proposal was a culmination of over two months of research, meetings, and creative problem solving. Led by Ingrid Cazalis, the team had worked many hours and came to Shanghai determined to win.
We had taken an overnight flight from Singapore and landed on March 7th on a very cold morning. We checked into the rooms that we had booked, only two blocks away from the Hult Business School Shanghai Campus. We registered and met the organizers and the rest of the competing teams. Before dinner, we listened to two lectures. The first, by Dr. Helen Chen from L.E.K. Consulting, was on health care issues related to chronic diseases, more specifically on breast cancer. The second lecture was given by Eric Zwisler, President of Cardinal Health China. He spoke about his experience in China and advised the students on importance of ethics and teamwork.
On the day of the competition, we started the day with a breakfast at 7 am. Afterwards, we entered our assigned conference room and spent the next five hours fine-tuning the presentation. For the first presentation, all of the competing schools, about thirty, were broken up into four groups of about eight teams. Each team was given 12 minutes to make a pitch to a small panel of judges. Judges from each group then selected a winner to present again, but this time in front of all of the judges and competitors with the trip to Boston and the Hult Prize finalist spot on the line.
Our team, MobilHealth, was assigned to Group 2 and was given the 2:30 time slot to present. At 2:15, we were called to standby outside of the presentation room. We were relaxed even though just minutes before we were dancing around a small room in order to get our energy level up after a long morning.
We were then called into a small classroom where six judges sat in the front row. We promptly started our presentation starting with the introduction of the team members by Richard. Claudia then told the story of Maria who lived in the slums of Jacarezinho in Brazil, and was in need of healthcare. I presented the core concept of the proposal, the concept of “one,” which would provide early diagnosis for $1, in 1 hour within 1 km of those at risk for developing chronic diseases. Then our team leader Ingrid presented the financial and logistical part of the proposal that have been worked out to fine details. It was a great team effort.
We were very content with the performance and felt like we gave all that we had. To be selected later as the winner of the group and be given the opportunity to present our ideas in front of everyone involved at the event was the cherry on top. Although we weren’t selected as the winner of the regional final, the experience was still very positive and memorable. I’m happy to have shared this unique experience with my teammates and hope that we were able to contribute good ideas to bringing forth a solution to the global healthcare problem in urban slums.