Foster teams take top two positions in Tepper Tech Innovation Challenge

Each year Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business hosts the Tepper Tech Innovation Challenge, with sponsorship from PNC Financial Services, “for MBA students dedicated to applying business techniques to products in emerging technologies.” This year UW Foster had two amazing MBA Teams compete, taking both first and second places in the case competition.

One of our participating Foster MBA students from the winning team, Sohara Shachi, has taken the time to share more about her experience and why participating in competitions is a great way for MBA students to apply their skills, get exposure to professionals and win cash prizes.

Read more about what Sohara had to say.

What did you initially expect from the experience?

Sohara Shachi

When I initially signed up for the Tepper tech case competition, I was quite intimidated at the prospect of competing with MBA teams from other reputed universities, but also excited about potentially flying to Pittsburgh and seeing a new campus! I did not expect to win the competition initially, but I strongly believed in my team and knew that we were going to give our best shot.

What was the objective for the experience?

The objectives for our team to take part were to learn about a new industry, explore a new city and hopefully make some new friends. Winning the competition was the cherry on top!

What was your most valuable takeaway?

My major takeaway was that taking part in a case competition brings a lot more value than any monetary award you may win.

Firstly, working on such an exciting project with a group of classmates usually ends up bringing you closer as friends. Secondly, you learn a lot about a particular company/industry by conducting research to prepare the pitch and the slides. Lastly, a lot goes into organizing a case competition and I am grateful to the UNC Tepper tech club for making this experience possible for us.

What was your most valuable contribution?

I would not single out any individual contribution because I think it was truly a team effort and I applaud my amazing team for the amount of work they put in. I would also give a big shout out to our incredible professors, specially David Tan and Lance Young, for the amount of support and guidance they provided our team!

What did you learn and how did this experience contribute to your career objectives?

Through this case competition I learned a lot about an industry that is completely new to me – banking – and disciplines that I did not have much prior exposure to – technology and finance. While I did not look at the competition as a career advancement opportunity and took it truly as a learning opportunity, I think the knowledge and the network I have developed through this competition would be valuable from a recruitment perspective as well in the future.

What approach did you take and why?

Our approach was to stay flexible throughout the process with regards to our idea. Our initial submission for the qualifying round was quite different from our final pitch. We conducted primary research – market visits and surveys – and went through multiple rounds of iterations based on the findings of our research as well as the insights from our faculty.

What was the outcome and potential impact as a result of the actions taken?

Because of our team being agile and willing to pivot, we ended up coming with a final idea that stood out from the concepts of many other teams. Moreover, the extensive research we conducted also made us well equipped to tackle the tough questions the judges posed, and also pre-emptively answer many questions before they asked.

What advice would you give to those that may plan to engage in this experience in the future?

Taking part in a case competition can be a lot of work, so it is good to start as early as possible. It is also important to select the right composition for the team so that the members can bring different skillsets and complement each other.

Why would you encourage others to engage in the future?

Regardless of the outcome of the case competition, the journey makes it completely worth it!