Case competitions are considered a highlight of the IESE MBA experience. Earlier this year, Roche launched their first case competition at their Basel headquarters to much success, with the team representing IESE emerging as winners. It provided the company with new insights and also helped students to gain a deeper understanding of the organization, the people and their culture. In this post, lead organizer from Roche Miguel Cuberos and the winning IESE team share their thoughts on their experience.
Interview with Miguel Cuberos, Strategic Insights Manager, Established Products (Initiator and leader of the Roche case competition)
How did the idea of a case competition occur and why did you want to collaborate with MBA students?
As an Insights Manager, I am always open to listen to what is happening outside of Roche. In fact, to generate new and relevant insights that enable the best decision-making process, one has to be curious and seeking for different sources of information.
So how do we identify opportunities? I discovered that other industries were running case competitions with top business schools. I asked myself; why not Roche, why not me? It seemed a great way to collaborate with new and talented people that would bring fresh and out-of-the box ideas. Students are discussing everyday business questions and are exposed to all areas of it, making them think broadly and creatively. And this learning experience could also benefit them.
Thanks to an “always yes” and entrepreneurial culture that we foster at Roche, my team and senior leaders were all supportive. Although the outcome was unknown at that time, we believed that it would be an enriching experience that we could only benefit from.
Why did the jury choose IESE as the winning team?
The team was strong and remarkable since the beginning. Out of the 17 pitches we received from the 7 different business schools, the proposal from this IESE team stood out. Unanimously, we all agreed that it will be one of the finalists. Indeed, they tackled all the criteria we set, notably applicability and creativity. Their approach to the question was robust and totally different, which generated interesting debate among our teams.
During the presentation to the jury, they explained the concept very well, kept engaging with the audience, were open to listen, and brought new ideas and opinions. Thanks to their passion and open-mindedness, the jury felt pleased having this exchange with them.
What is the added value for Roche and your team? And does Roche see any future for the case competition?
First of all, opening up the horizon enabled us to hear about new ideas and different voices. For our team of analysts, this is essential to ensure that we keep being at forefront of insight generation that helps the company to take the best decisions. It also brought us new insights; the students tackled the problem from their own view, used different sources of data and even conducted interviews. This different angle enables us to enlarge our perspective.
Second, the whole project not only generated new conversations internally, but also connected different teams. We had very interesting debates about the ideas and made us think about the challenges, the opportunities and the ways to explore them. It fostered discussion, which is crucial to remain creative in an environment where the daily business doesn’t allow it.
Third, for Roche as a company, and following the MBA Summit Day held in February in Basel, this experience was another door to connect with talented students in a closer environment, increasing Roche’s brand awareness as an employer and enabling students to better understand our culture and people.
Overall, the experience was beneficial for us. As for the future, we do see the collaboration with business schools to be very valuable and need to be pursued. We could further explore ideas and formats and work with different teams at Roche. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Rebecca Abdelnour, Nataliya Shepel and Michael Piatek for their great support in building the case with me.
What surprised you most during the competition?
The quality of the ideas suggested by the students coming from different backgrounds outside of Healthcare. Also, I was amazed by the different educational and professional paths, the nationalities, and the variety of the ideas that they were able to propose. Diversity is key for us as it fosters creativity and is the driver of long term success.
Interview with MBA students from the IESE winning team
Why did you join the competition?
We learnt about Roche’s case competition at the Roche MBA Day, back in February in Basel. I was willing to do my internship in the healthcare industry this summer. I believed that given the Roche’s size, capabilities and exposure to such an innovation driven environment, a case competition from Roche would be an excellent opportunity to learn and explore the key future challenges and concerns of the industry.
How was the preparation?
Preparation was intense. We got the brief for the case shortly before Easter and so finding the right time to work on the project was hard. Brainstorming took a longtime and we had many ideas. Actually, we worked super well as a team, we had very different backgrounds that were complementary. I am very grateful to my team that was very supportive when I had to be in bed for a few days because of my pregnancy.
What did you gain in participating?
I gained a marvelous experience that will remain in my memory for a long time. I truly enjoyed our team and the challenge that was proposed by Roche. To overcome it, we had to leverage each and everyone’s experience and work collectively to deliver insightful recommendations to Roche. It was also a great opportunity to share my passion for the Healthcare industry to members of the team who didn’t have sector experience.
Finally, Roche did a formidable job in designing the final by providing access to many of the top notch leaders they have. We were able to interact on a one to one basis over an informal lunch thus giving us great exposure and contacts for the future.
All in all, I believe that we had a lot of fun as a team and, I will truly recommend any student to do the competition next year.
How would you summarize the overall experience?
As someone with no previous experience in the industry but who was interested in a career change to pharma, participating in the case competition was an exceptional opportunity to learn more about the challenges that the company is facing and to contribute with an “outside” point of view. I was extremely pleased to get to the finals, when we had an unique chance of not only discussing about the case’s topic with the jury but also of hearing about career development from an executive of the company and networking with other employees during lunch. All of this together allowed me to gain a deeper knowledge about Roche and its people, which is for me the main career decision driver when choosing the company you want to work.
Many thanks to Cherif, Carolina, Andy and Thais for conducting the above interviews and for writing this post. Congrats again!
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