Rutgers Business School takes honorable mention at second annual biopharmaceutical case competition

A team of Rutgers MBA students won honorable mention in the second annual biopharmaceutical case competition hosted at Rutgers Business School on Nov. 15.

The Rutgers team was composed of second-year MBA Pharmaceutical Management students Jason Bloom, Michael Kwatkoski, Manasa Parakala and David Weintraub.

The team from Rutgers Business School won honorable mention in the school's second annual biopharmaceutical case competition.

Teams from seven schools spent a week completing a case that required the students to explain how they would carry out the launch of a new cancer medicine. In a day-long competition on Nov. 15, the students presented their cases to a panel of seven judges – all professionals working in the pharmaceutical industry – and then spent time fielding questions from the judges.

"It was a difficult case, but it was a great learning experience,” Rutgers Business School student Parakala said after the awards presentation in Bove Auditorium.

The seven judges praised the students for their work and offered some real-world, post-competition advice about how to handle questions when there's no easy answer. The panel of judges included Rutgers MBA alum Terry Davidson, who leads the health policy and strategy team for Janssen's pharmaceutical portfolio.  

As the industry grows increasingly complex, one of the judges said answers such as "It depends" and "It's complicated" are more acceptable to managers who are asking questions about a product launch strategy.

Davidson, who graduated from RBS in 2004, said, "It's okay not to know, but it's better to say something like, 'I'll find out" then to try to bluff your way through an answer.

Carnegie Mellon's team took first prize, winning $6,000 to share among its four members, Kyle Buescher, Jeffrey Lee, Ankit Agrawal and Jude Odafe.

Students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School finished second, capturing a $3,000 prize. Notre Dame’s team won third place. It’s four team members will share $1,500.

Carnegie Mellon captured the first-place prize.

The case competition helps to showcase the strength of Rutgers Business School's ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which has a well-established cluster in New Jersey, including such venerable giants as Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

While longer running case competitions at Kellogg, Wake Forest and Louisville are sponsored by a single company, Rutgers had sponsorship from eight -- Bayer, Janssen, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai, Campbell Alliance and Herspiegel Consulting.

Mahmud Hassan, a professor and the director of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management Issues, has said one of the biggest attractions for students to participate in the case competition is the ability to display their skills to industry professionals and then network with them during the event.

While the case study was held, Rutgers Business School also hosted Pharma Student Day, which was open to all students. The event, which featured a series of speakers from the industry, provided students with another networking opportunity.

-Susan Todd

TAGS: Case Competition Mahmud Hassan MBA Networking Pharmaceutical Management The Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center