Rutgers Business School students capture third place in national healthcare case competition at Kellogg School of Management

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Students from Rutgers Business School’s MBA Pharmaceutical Management Program captured third place in the Kellogg School of Management’s prestigious biotech and healthcare case competition, securing a spot among the leading business schools in the country.

Eleven teams participated in the competition from schools such as the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Kellogg and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Teams from Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, Mexico’s IPADE Business School and McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Canada also competed.

The five Rutgers MBA Pharmaceutical Management students who captured third place at the 2014 Kellogg Biotech and Healthcare Case Competition in Chicago.

The Rutgers team – made up of second-year MBA students Sarah Kruse, Rema Bitar, Mitchell Ezra, Michelle Finn and Denise Kubata – placed with teams from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Haas took first place for the third year in a row while Booth won second place.

In the days following the competition, the Rutgers students savored their win, relishing the fact that they were able to compete in a national case competition before graduation and take Rutgers Business School into one of the top spots at the same time.

"There are things we could have done better and there are things we learned from the experience,” Kruse said, “but it’s great to be on that list (of winners).” 

The case presented to students at Kellogg wasn’t a typical one. It didn’t revolve around a new product launch or a manufacturing quandary. Instead it involved a public health issue and required the teams to develop a strategy to help reduce childhood pneumonia in Uganda.

"We were all surprised, but it was a pleasant surprise,” said Kruse, who has coupled an MBA concentration in pharmaceutical management with supply chain. "It was so multi-faceted and it had a human interest element to it. It also seemed incredibly applicable.”

The Rutgers students intentionally assembled their team so they had strengths in different areas – marketing, supply chain and finance – as well as years of work experience in the pharmaceutical industry to draw on.  "I think the dynamics of our group – the fact that we brought different areas of experience and backgrounds – allowed us to tackle the case as well as we did,” Ezra said.

Ezra and Bitar were both research scientists with large pharmaceutical companies before they entered the Rutgers MBA program. Kruse, who has a degree in molecular biology, spent three years working for a contract clinical research organization. All three have accepted full-time positions at large pharmaceutical companies after graduation.

Finn, who has focused her MBA studies on pharmaceutical management and marketing, spent six years, collectively, working in finance at healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson and device maker Covidien.  She will become a product manager for Celgene after graduation. Kubata came into the MBA program after working 10 years as a pharmacist. Her MBA concentration is pharmaceutical management and marketing

"The case competition was a great opportunity for us to leave our normal classroom environment, to be creative and to use what we know to try to come up with a solution,” Bitar said. And Kruse agreed, adding that coming up with a solution seemed like more than a business decision because it had broader impact on a global health issue.

Rutgers Pharmaceutical Management students have established a track record of winning case competitions, reflecting the strength of the education they receive in the program coupled with the experience they gain from internships at some of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the industry. Two years ago, the MBA Pharmaceutical Management Program also started its own biopharmaceutical case competition.

Rutgers Business School’s program is bolstered by the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management Issues and the school’s strong ties with industry giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bayer and Novartis.

"Our program is new compared to many of the other schools,” said Professor Mahmud Hassan, director of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for Pharmaceutical Management Studies. “Even though we’re new, we’re not far behind. We provide students with a quality education that we’re showing to employers and to the world.”

Bitar said the case competition also gave the Rutgers team an opportunity to speak with MBA students from other schools. The experience, she said, reaffirmed what she already knows about Rutgers Business School’s return-on-investment.

"We finished among the people who are at the top and lots of them told us we were really in the best place if you want to get into the pharmaceutical industry,” she said, “because the companies are all here in New Jersey and Rutgers has such strong connections with them.”

"And that’s absolutely right,” she said.

-Susan Todd

TAGS: Case Competition Health Care Mahmud Hassan MBA Pharmaceutical Management Return on Investment