MBA Students Answer Microsoft Challenge in Tech Lab
Winning team earns right to develop solution with company.
A group of IE Business School students won the spring edition of Tech Lab that sought to answer a real corporate challenge presented by IE Tech Partner, Microsoft, and created a disruptive, feasible and profitable business case.
Microsoft asked the teams participating in the five-week corporate immersion component of the International MBA program the following question: How can Microsoft help SMBs in their digital transformation process and embrace the cloud strategy?
The winning team gains the opportunity to continue working on the project with Microsoft to develop the idea and use it as their capstone project for graduation. They also earn Microsoft Training and certifications, including two of the highly sought Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certifications, and a recommendation letter.
Microsoft Services’ Valle del Aguila Rodrigo said the skills students take away from the experience help them in the future by teaching the critical skill of connecting business and technology, which she said was the path to success for any company.
Del Aguila Rodrigo, the company’s Consulting Practice Lead in Spain, also said she enjoyed the Tech Lab experience, mentoring the winning team and sees how the lab also benefits the Tech Partner.
“Working with the student on scenarios to maximize business growth through Technology is a stimulating and enriching experience,” she said. “Students apply Microsoft Technology in very creative ways and with new perspectives. It is interesting to be part, during some months, of this blue sky thinking process.”
According to International and Tech MBA Associate Director Igor Souto Araujo, the experience lets students learn through hands-on work.
“Through an experiential program the Tech Lab offers students the opportunity to expand beyond the traditional management curriculum through a series of modules that help students to better understand technology, leverage technology to create business opportunities, develop innovative solutions and go beyond status quo,” he said.
Each of the 15 participating teams have a mentor from Microsoft and another from a Microsoft partner supporting the team. Axel Hernández, KPMG Director of Technology Enablement, mentor of the winning team.
“At KPMG, we find these types of collaborations very interesting,” he said. “It gives us an updated vision from different points of view, focused on technology and business—one of our strongest and most recognized values in the market.”
The winning four-person team proposed “Reducing Partner Friction with Plastics SMEs”.
Team members praised the experience as unique.
Ahmed Abdelraouf said what really stood out for him was learning how to think like a designer, in addition to understanding the significance of data and how to leverage technology to create business insights from it.
“With real-world experience, we as future business leaders could get well-prepared for the challenges waiting for us to solve in the real market.”
Teammate Antonio Cortés agreed and applauded the Tech Lab structure.
“For me, the most notable difference in this tech lab is how the classes complement the process of looking for understanding the problem and then looking for a solution. It was through the classes and teachers that we learned about the cloud and understood what the real problem was.”
Christina Gohl, also on the winning team, said exposure to the tech industry was the most important thing she gained from Tech Lab.
“As someone who does not come from a tech background, the tech lab gave me the opportunity to have a high level overview on current topics in the industry and gain a better understanding of how they work. It also allowed me a glimpse of what working in the industry might be like, so I could better assess if it would be a fit for me post-graduation.”
Students felt the direct interaction with professionals was a key strength of the Tech Lab.
“This Tech lab experience gave me a lot of exposure to professionals from the technology industry. It was a great opportunity to connect with consultants/Directors from distinctive companies and learn from their experience in the field,” Cortés said.
That exposure is a two-way street, according to the KPMG mentor, that could pave the way for opportunities for students after graduation.
“At KPMG we are invested heavily in technology and talent, which means new openings for a range of profiles,” Hernández said. “Initiatives like this allow us to identify talent more easily, which leaves the door open.”