This story was written by Anna Rzewnicki and originally posted on the NC State Poole College of Management website.
Kevin Weisner, second year student in the NC State Jenkins MBA program, was on the winning team in Novo Nordisk’s 2016 Innovation in Action case competition. Six teams participated in the initial competition at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Plainsboro, New Jersey on October 28.
Weisner and his teammates then traveled to Bagsværd, Denmark for the finals, where they continued their work on the case, in collaboration with employees from Novo Nordisk at the company’s global headquarters. In this final round, they competed against the team that won first place in Denmark and won the first place prize.
The annual case competition in Denmark is a seven-hour intensive development process that provides an opportunity for graduate students from all academic backgrounds to apply their talent and analytical skills – and to network – as they develop an innovative solution to a specific problem.
The U.S. teams were formed from the hundreds of students who, like Weisner, applied online by submitting their resumes and responding to an essay question. In New Jersey, they receive their case, then developed and presented their solution, all within five hours.
Weiser’s team included a student from New York University studying data science, a pharmacy student from Duquesne University, a student in chemical engineering from Notre Dame, and a pharmaceutical management student from Farleigh Dickenson University.
He credits the team’s diverse backgrounds for its success in the competition, citing the members’ “different views and strengths as a team. We had different backgrounds … that all came together for a great solution. We created and presented to our strengths,” Weisner said in an email interview with Poole College communications.
“I used a lot of the skills I’ve learned from my MBA studies, including marketing, strategy and finance. My business way of thinking really helped my team develop a practical solution. The judges were impressed with our solution and its practicality and scalability,” he said.
This year’s case was based on Cities Changing Diabetes, a Novo Nordisk initiative developed in partnership with seven large cities around the world.
“The goal of this program is to bring awareness, treatment and prevention of diabetes in these large urban areas where the risk of diabetes is greater,” Weisner said. Using research from the initiative’s work in Shanghai, China, the competing teams were challenged to suggest actions that will help people in Shanghai manage their diabetes and live a healthy life.
“Our solution involved expanding a partnership with a local university to provide care at local hospitals providing diabetes-specific care. The healthcare resources in Shanghai are limited and there is a stigma associated with those people living with diabetes,” he said. “In addition, we proposed an app that would be used to schedule appointments and pay for doctor visits. The app would also be used to create a sense of community for those living with diabetes by sharing healthy recipes and organizing meetings for exercise.”
After winning the competition in the U.S., Weisner’s team continued its work on the case, in collaboration with employees from Novo Nordisk at its global headquarters in Bagsværd, Denmark. In this final round, they competed and won against the first place team from Denmark.
In Denmark, the team “had to improve upon what we started in New Jersey,” he said. That included expanding their presentation from 10 minutes to 25 minutes.
His key takeaways from the experience was learning “how to work with others who have a different way of thinking, to come together with the best possible solutions. The pressure to perform with limited time was immense, but I learned how to move forward without wasting time,” Weisner said, adding that he also “learned more about the pharmaceutical industry and Novo Nordisk as a company.”
Visiting the Novo Nordisk campus and presenting to many of its executives “was in invaluable experience,” he said.
Weisner said he had decided to participate “to utilize my MBA knowledge in a more practical setting. It’s the Think and Do attitude I have learned from NC State. I would really like to find a career in the pharmaceutical industry and Novo Nordisk is at the top of my list. I already knew they were a great company as this past summer, as I had interned at their Clayton, N.C., facility.”
He also fit in a bit of sight-seeing, and “enjoyed visiting the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. I love all the parks and greenways.”
Weisner thanked the Jenkins MBA Career Management Center’s staff for their support.
NOVO NORDISK 2016 CASE COMPETITION WINNING TEAM PHOTO:
Left to right: Shi Fan, master’s student at NYU studying data science; Erin Gorse, a Doctor of Pharmacy student at Duquesne University; Kevin Weisner, second year NC State Jenkins MBA student concentrating in supply chain and biosciences management; Pavel Brodskiy, chemical engineering doctoral student at Notre Dame. Not in the photo: Asmaa Gamie, master’s student at Fairleigh Dickinson University studying pharmaceutical management, who participated remotely while the team was in Denmark.