Peering into the Future in International Innovation Challenge
Thrilled to be runner-up in U21-PwC competition

I was proud to recently represent the UC Davis Graduate School of Management in the 2018-19 Universitas 21/PwC Innovation Challenge. In the round I entered, the international competition attracted contestants from ten universities on three continents, and UC Davis was the only U.S. university involved. I was somewhat surprised when I was selected as runner-up in the Group C challenge!

Universitas 21 and PwC, two globally-focused organizations, first came together in 2018 to create the Innovation Challenge. The challenge offers masters and Ph.D. students at U21 member institutions the chance to discuss and offer solutions to complex global issues.

This online competition challenges students to respond to contemporary, globally-important work-related issues (set by PwC) by introducing your solutions via a short three-minute video. The videos are judged by PwC and their clients, who are leaders in graduate career development.

The top prize winners in this year’s contest earned an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to PwC’s offices in Dubai (I came so close!), while the runner-ups will enjoy career development coaching sessions with the PwC Academy.

Peering into the Future in International Innovation ChallengeCorporate is King

Each entrant was given a hypothetical world view and asked to describe innovative ideas of adaptation. Students from my group were asked to imagine a world where corporate is king, and to consider what skills would be important for individuals to thrive in this work environment — and how they planned to adapt.

One of my goals while earning my MBA is to learn to lead and facilitate intercultural teams to have a global impact by utilizing curiosity, empathy and innovation to build new processes and products. When I heard about the topic I would be tackling, it felt too good to be true.

Preparing for my video presentation was an incredible learning opportunity, allowing me to take a deep dive into exploring the future of our world through the lens of a “corporatocracy.”

I uncovered fascinating insights into how our global economic system works. Particularly the trust people place in corporate leaders and government officials, and the potential of a more mobile, globally connected world to create sustainable change in the environment and education.

Of course, I also found much to be concerned about, especially the growing divide between the haves and have nots that plague our society.

That touched home for me.


With my background in the nonprofit sector, I came to the San Francisco Bay Area and UC Davis to pursue my MBA to integrate into the incredible social impact efforts being made at a major scale by the for-profit sector. I find design thinking fascinating, and I am intrigued by the world of social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

As I pursue my MBA, I know there is much more to explore. In the next steps of my career, I hope to be a practitioner and thought leader.

I am actively blogging and podcasting about my MBA experience and my classmates. I find this a vital and important opportunity to step back and think deeper about what I’m learning, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The PwC/U21 Innovation Challenge gifted me a unique opportunity to take on big questions, share my insights, and to learn from professionals who are seeking knowledge on a global scale. As a runner-up, I’m excited to be able benefit from the advice and network offered by the PwC Academy.

I encourage future UC Davis MBA students to take advantage of the competition to hone your research, critical thinking and personal presentation skills.