Gillings School student wins Harvard Business School case competition

February 22, 2019

Aditi Borde, a dual master’s degree student at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, won first place at the Harvard Business School’s Alliance for Health Management Case Competition on Feb. 9, in Cambridge, Mass.

Aditi Borde (right) and Jacqueline Gerhart won the 2019 case competition hosted by the Harvard Business School.

Aditi Borde (right) and Jacqueline Gerhart won the 2019 case competition hosted by the Harvard Business School.

Borde, who is scheduled to earn joint Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees in spring 2020, competed on a team with Jacqueline Gerhart, doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, who plans to graduate in 2022. The powerhouse team was the only one at the event with only two team members; other teams had three or more participants.

Though students from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School had entered the Harvard competition in previous years, this was the first year that a dual business and public health student took part.

This year’s case competition, the theme of which was “Healthy Living Challenge: Influencing Health Behaviors in Low-Income Communities,” was held as part of the 16th annual Harvard Health Care Conference.

Twelve business schools from the U.S. and Canada took part, including UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Harvard Business School, the Yale School of Management, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and others. Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business took second- and third-place wins.

Each of the teams made a proposal related to the theme of the competition.

Borde and Gerhart identified obesity as being associated with lower quality of life and poorer health outcomes, including Type II diabetes, in eastern North Carolina. Their proposal was the requirement of a comprehensive diabetes management program that aligns with the lifestyles of people who live in rural areas, is convenient, brings care into local communities, and supports both financial and physical health.

Borde said her Gillings School classwork, particularly a health care strategy and marketing class with Steven Sloate, MBA, assistant professor of health policy and management, helped prepare her for the event.

“In Steve’s class, I developed practical skills such as assessing the internal and external environments and evaluating strategic alternatives in different health care settings,” Borde said. “Steve was extremely encouraging and supportive as we built out our proposal for this event, and was always available to give us valuable and constructive feedback.”

The Harvard competition was not the team’s first outing together. They were paired randomly at the 2017 Kenan-Flagler competition, where they placed first. After seeking each other out for the 2018 Kenan-Flagler event on campus, they placed first again and competed in the external round, where they placed first against schools such as Michigan and Duke universities.

“Of course, when UNC Kenan-Flagler was invited to the BAHM competition at Harvard, Jackie was the first person I wanted on my team!” Borde said. “We work really well together.”

Borde said the most rewarding parts of the event were meeting a diverse group of students from the U.S. and Canada, hearing their talks and asking them questions about their proposals.

“I believe every professional student should experience a case competition,” she said. “Case competitions not only develop critical thinking skills and executive presence, but they also teach students how to work effectively on a team in a high-pressure situation.”


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Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@listserv.unc.edu.

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