Boston University MBAs Sweep Regional Hult Challenge

in Graduate Students, Students
July 27th, 2011

Left to Right: Catherine Liang, Ravi Kolipaka, Jane Bulnes-Fowles, Donna Tsui (Hult student volunteer), Matthew K. Fox, and Toni Ann Louie

Left to Right: Catherine Liang, Ravi Kolipaka, Jane Bulnes-Fowles, Donna Tsui (Hult student volunteer), Matthew K. Fox, and Toni Ann Louie

On March 5, 2011, five Boston University MBA students swept the regional portion of the 2nd Annual Hult Global Case Challenge, beating out teams from MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Cornell, Columbia, and other schools.

Similar regional competitions took place on the same day in San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai.  The winners of these competitions joined the Boston University team to compete in the Global Final of the challenge on April 28, when a group from Cambridge University walked away with the $1 million prize.

The Boston University team, all members of the Part-Time MBA Program (PEMBA) who expect to graduate in 2012, included the following students from diverse locations and professional backgrounds, spanning bio/pharma, public health research, software development, nonprofit, and retail energy supply:

  • Matthew K. Fox (Edwards, New York)
  • Ravi Kolipaka (Hyderabad, India)
  • Catherine Liang (Monroeville, Pennsylvania)
  • Toni Ann Louie (New York, New York)
  • Jane Bulnes-Fowles (Palo Alto, California)

As Hult explained in a press release, this year’s challenge gathered “students from the world’s top schools to focus on developing solutions to accelerate clean water access and sanitation around the world….Global judges included Gary White, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Water.org; George Fisher, Former CEO of Kodak and current senior advisor of private equity powerhouse KKR; Bruce Mosler, Co-Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield; Peter Thum, Co-Founder of Ethos Water and a Vice President at Starbucks; Gary Hattem, President of the Deutsche Bank Foundation; and Premal Shah, a leading social entrepreneur and president of Kiva.org.”

“Boston University School of Management provided us with one main attribute that helped our success in the Boston regional: diversity of perspective.”

–BU MBA student Ravi Kolipaka

Says Boston University team leader Matthew K. Fox, “We selected our team so that it consisted of people who could view the case from different angles. Our backgrounds are highly diverse, so, as a team, we continually allowed each other to think in unusual ways, to brainstorm solutions freely, and to be respectful of all the ideas brought to the table.”

Reflecting on how the BU MBA experience helped prepare their team for such a strong showing, Ravi Kolipaka explains, “Boston University School of Management provided us with one main attribute that helped our success in the Boston regional: diversity of perspective.”

“We were a strong team because we leaned on each other to inspire one another. We saw similarities in not only the three other teams in the final but throughout the competition.”

–BU MBA student Jane Bulnes-Fowles

Adds fellow BU competitor Catherine Liang, “The diverse student body at the School of Management, combined with the case-based learning approach and team projects, has really taught us to think through problems in a multi-disciplinary way.”

“We also gained a great respect for the power of strong teams,” says Jane Bulnes-Fowles.  “We were a strong team because we leaned on each other to inspire one another.  We saw similarities in not only the three other teams in the final but throughout the competition. They were able to approach the complex problem with thought-provoking and innovative ideas and solutions.”

Adds team member Toni Ann Louie, “Specific courses such as Global Sustainability, IT Strategies, and the Non-Profit Accounting class in the Public & Nonprofit MBA program, were also especially helpful in the development of our idea.  These courses introduced us to new and innovative business models and helped us analyze social trends happening now throughout the established and developing world.”