Berkeley MBA Team Bests 70 Schools in Odyssey Competition

While some people run, bike, and swim to earn their triathlon chops, others negotiate, pitch, and solve business cases. A Berkeley MBA team brought home its trifecta gold from Columbia Business School by winning the Odyssey Global MBA Competition March 3. 

The Berkeley-Haas team of Vanessa Barros Rioseco, Chris Chavez, Zubin Desai, David Hirsch, and Dominik Sanya, all MBA 13, came in first overall, emerging from an original field of more than 70 competing teams from business schools around the world. Kellogg and Harvard earned second and third place overall among the nine finalist teams. 
Teams were challenged to create an entrepreneurial idea for Barnes & Noble, solve an intellectual property case for Hasbro on the Facebook application Scrabulous, and negotiate on behalf of either an African government or a regional telecom interest on terms for market entry. 
Representing the government of Tanzania, the Berkeley-Haas team used negotiation skills gleaned from the Leading People and Negotiations courses taught by Assistant Professor Ming Leung and Senior Lecturer Holly Schroth to come to terms with their opponents (Harvard Business School and IESE) on a mutually beneficial telecom deal. 
The team came in first in this competition, thanks, says Sanya, to “our collaborative rather than confrontational approach. By displaying confidence without attitude, we were able to develop terms that enabled both parties to increase individual payoffs.” 
In the entrepreneurial pitch competition, the Berkeley-Haas team created a social "frequent flier" program for Barnes & Noble that would encourage adoption of the Nook, increase foot traffic, engage users, and strengthen B&N’s partnership with Starbucks. Judges “were impressed with our familiarity with entrepreneurial ideas, technological trends, ongoing innovation, and metrics," says Sanya. "They also appreciated that we had the most out-of-the-box idea and prepared a very energetic presentation.” 
For the Hasbro case, the team developed an "acqui-hire" solution they had learned about in Entrepreneurship. “Our strategy was to protect intellectual property through legal means, while working to tap the existing talent pool assembled at Scrabulous,” Sanya explains. 
Overall, Sanya attributes the team’s success to a relaxed attitude, supportive environment, and a focus on having fun “that gave us the freedom to question the status quo and take measured risks."
Odyssey Champions: Dominik Sanya, Chris Chavez, Zubin Desai, Vanessa Barros Rioseco, and David Hirsch (not pictured), all MBA 13