August 29, 2012 12:45 pm

MBA Challenge Q&A - The Glass Ceiling

Ronsilla Coutinho, The Glass Ceiling team member

The Glass Ceiling is one of six teams shortlised for our MBA Challenge. In an FT interview, team members explain their motivations.

Why did you enter the challenge?

Karl-Justin: After an enriching experience at the Hult Global Case Challenge, I decided to apply for this challenge as it combines real-life problems with media awareness. Together with the top MBA students from across the world I expect to see smart and feasible solutions. Additionally, my experience using spectacles since early childhood made it easy to relate to the topic of the challenge.

Ritanshu: In my job, pre MBA, I worked a lot on rural consumer surveys for various clients. Ethnography surveys were common, where I would go to the household of these consumers and spend a lot of time talking to them - trying to understand their lifestyle and needs. I was always intrigued by the big heart of these ‘not so rich’ village people - they would never let us leave their house without tea, snacks or produce from their farms, despite their socio-economic conditions.

Ronsilla: I have been associated with the National Assocation for Blind (India) as a volunteer, where I have been involved in providing rehabilitative services. Being a spectacle user for over 10 years, I can connect with the stigma associated with wearing spectacles. This challenge has helped me leverage my experiences to address eye care issues in Asia and Africa.

Ashish: I feel that I have a lot to do for the people around me. This challenge gave me an opportunity to think about how to give back to society. Though after this, I will not be in a position to implement this plan, I will remember that there are many ways to help people.

Sheera: I’m passionate about social entrepreneurship and liked the idea of working on an international team with MBA students from other parts of the world. It was an opportunity to work on a social challenge while expanding my own network.

Why do you think your business plan should be chosen?

Karl-Justin: Our business plan not only encompasses the marketing challenges mentioned by Sightsavers, but also looks at details in the finance and marketing areas. It is not only scalable to other countries and regions, but also sustainable in the long run. We believe that we can use many best practices; the eradication of Pollio in India, for example, for our cause. We also want to involve the existing network of media, schools and teachers to reach the pupils in need as much as possible

Ritanshu: There is a lot of consumer perspective, which has been taken into account while making the recommendations for marketing. Hence I feel that our business plan will be able to evoke a significant change in consumer behavior.

Ronsilla: Most of us on the team are spectacle users and I believe that our personal experiences have helped shape our strategy.

How have you found the experience of working with students in other regions?

Karl-Justin: This was probably the most challenging part of the whole challenge. Placing this challenge in the summer months of our MBA studies resulted in having to coordinate eight students in eight different locations all around the world. We also had to take limitations in communication into account as summer internships ranged from placements in Oman, India, Spain, the US, Germany and South Korea.

Ronsilla: As future leaders, we understand the value of time management and global networks. Co-ordinating across three time zones and balancing our schedules has been a challenging yet enriching experience. The diversity in our team has helped us analyse and challenge every proposal from different perspectives.

Ritanshu: Working with students in other regions also helped me expand my network beyond my business school.

Sheera: Technology has really helped us create a virtual team and we’ve made use of Skype, Google hangouts and virtual project management solutions.

Ashish: It was definitely difficult to coordinate between three regions - even more difficult when team members started to travel to countries in different time zones. However, the kind of thought process that we went through and the ideas that were generated were very good.

How do you feel your MBA has helped you with the challenge?

Karl-Justin: We believe that the MBA prepared us very well by letting us work in small and international groups. We also got a great insight into the most important building blocks of a successful business, such as accounting, marketing, operations and finance. This, combined with the many hours of sharing experiences and stories from our former jobs, gave us a great base to tackle such real world problems.

Sheera: Business school provides countless stimuli. There are always multiple things going on at one time and it forces you to learn time management and prioritisation skills. An MBA also guarantees that you figure our how to work on international teams, alongside people with very different backgrounds from your own. That skill helps tremendously.

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