What we learned from stepping out of our comfort zones…

Our learning team has been looking for a competition where we can participate, test and, apply what we’ve learned at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM). We applied to a number of competitions before finally being chosen to compete at the Warwick Business School (WBS) Case Challenge.

Personally, entering this competition not only meant traveling with my closest friends at AIM but also the valuable knowledge and insight we will gain from it. We were excited to experience what it would be like to think critically under pressure to push the limits of our capabilities while applying the things we learned from our school. Most of all, it was meeting people from all around the world that we looked forward to.

When I was in college, I was part of my university’s cheerleading squad. This meant competing in various tournaments locally and internationally. Now, being in AIM, I found it quite thrilling to be able to compete again but on the academic stage. I, Marielle Barraza, am exceedingly delighted and honored to represent the Philippines alongside five strong-minded and persistent individuals; namely, Antovna Gyawali, Ayn Gamab, Az Chua, Mai Reyes, and Tim Fernando.

(1) Group Photo
left to right: Az, Mai, Ayn, Tim, Marielle, Antovna

Warwick Business School (WBS) is one of the top business schools in the United Kingdom. It is such an honor for us to be chosen to participate in this competition. On April 10, we received the official confirmation of participation in the WBS Case Challenge 2018, making it the first time AIM joins the contest. At the same time, this made us the only team from an Asian country to qualify.

The schools who competed are as follows:


The WBS Case Challenge first became an international competition in 2014. With particular interest on furthering the medical field, it focuses on providing innovative solutions to the industry’s most pressing concerns. This year, on their 5th run, the topic was on Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), which pertains to irregular heartbeats that can lead to blood clots, heart failures and complications, as well as strokes. We were required to conceptualize a poster to increase awareness on Atrial Fibrillation. Additionally, we came up with an innovative solution which we will present on the day of the competition. This area is totally out of our comfort zones!

But then, bearing in mind the trust given to us, the team dedicated a great deal of time and exerted much effort in preparing for the event. Since the topic, Atrial Fibrillation, required thorough knowledge in medicine, cardiology, and healthcare systems, it took us over two months to produce the output we envisioned. We explored countless journals and online assets as we poured all our efforts to gaining substantial knowledge on the matter at hand. We even reached out to a few medical professionals as well as patients who have this particular condition to give us more in-depth knowledge on AFib.

The timing of the competition was also apt given that it was within the culmination of our Marketing Management, Development of Enterprise, and Strategic Management classes. The frameworks discussed in these courses helped us to further analyze the issue at hand. Within a month before the competition, we were assigned a country to work on—China. Every night, we met for at least two hours to brainstorm and formulate an innovative solution.

Eventually, we were able to come up with our creative poster that aims to raise awareness about Atrial Fibrillation. The theme of our poster is that Atrial Fibrillation is a fight of every nation. We wanted people to know more about the disease so that each and every one from a community can help mitigate this problem. We designed it in a way that the colors are eye-catching at the same time, showing relevant statistics and information.

(2) WBS Poster

At the same time, the team came up with an innovative way to improve the early detection of Atrial Fibrillation among the Chinese workers. It involves a biometric access system that seamlessly incorporates a pulse oximeter to the daily attendance log-in devices in Chinese offices. We made sure to establish the rationale behind the solution by highlighting the uniqueness of Chinese culture, the trends in Chinese corporations, the journey of a consumer, the size of the market, and the financial projections, among others.

The day before flying to London, we were still working on fine-tuning our presentation. However, on May 30th, we flew to the United Kingdom—all of us first timers—feeling too excited for the experience.

At midnight on June 1st, we arrived at Coventry. Getting off the plane, tired from the long haul flight to a new country proved itself a challenge already. Navigating the strange streets made it impossible for us to find our Airbnb. The team ended up just checking into the nearest hotel to get the most sleep we could before the first day of the competition.

In the morning, we checked out of the hotel and immediately searched for our Airbnb. Luckily, we found it quickly. Once we were all settled in, we did more polishing and finalizing on our presentation, trying to keep the jitters at bay. At exactly 5:00PM on June 1st, the WBS Case Challenge began. The first day was all about meeting everyone else involved, which meant a lot of fun ice breakers and useful networking.


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The minute we got back to our Airbnb, we continued to work on the presentation for our proposed innovative solution for Atrial Fibrillation. We convened at 11:00PM, finished at 2:00AM, and got up, bright and early at 4:00AM. Even though we were running on just two hours of sleep, we still felt energized and motivated to show the world what it takes to be an AIM student.

On June 2nd, the presentation of posters started as soon as eight in the morning, which was immediately followed by the group presentations on AFib. Even with a minor technical problem, all the presentations went smoothly. We were also able to answer all the judges’ questions appropriately. While it wasn’t enough to qualify for the final round and win the whole competition, we still walked away from the experience happy. Months of hard work and dedication resulted in the best presentation we envisioned, pleasing the judges with our unique ideas and valuable content.


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During the post-briefing session, the panel expressed their satisfaction for the coherence and consistency of our presentation and proposal. Furthermore, they liked our extensive knowledge of the Chinese culture that made our solution more suited to their problem. In fact, one of the judges pointed out that it was the first time they encountered a presentation that really took into consideration the culture of the assigned country. We also leveraged the creative use of existing technologies instead of dwelling on untested developments. The judges also noted that our team exuded passion, camaraderie, and knowledge of the topic as we were all able to participate during the question and answer segment.

While we weren’t able to take home the coveted first place trophy, we are still incredibly grateful for the experience. From the support our parents and professors gave to the positive feedback from the judges, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Joining the WBS Case Challenge was a great learning experience for us. This also proves that students from the Asian Institute of Management has what it takes to compete against some of the best business schools in the world. We hope that our experience will only be the beginning of what would become a long line of groups from AIM to join this prestigious competition. It was a fulfilling and an indescribable experience!


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Our team would like to express our utmost gratitude to everyone who helped us throughout our journey: our supportive families, Learning Teams, AIM mentors and professors namely, Prof. Ricky Lim, Prof. Ken Hartigan-Go, Prof. Titos Ortigas, as well as the GSB administrative staff, Dr. Nick Bateman, all the medical students and professionals, and the wonderful Atrial Fibrillation patients who gave their valuable insights, and of course, the AIM-MBA Class of 2018.

For further information, you can visit their main website: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/wbs/casechallenge/casechallenge/

To watch videos about the competition, click the links below: Warwick Business School – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY8ij6RVAb4 Marielle Barraza – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8j6Ujhqp4E https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjwnS_PYxHU

Words by Marielle Barraza and Aziel Chua (MBA 2018)

Edited by Mara Madrid

Photos from Marielle Barraza and the WBS Team

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