Six-Student Team Wins First Prize at IXL Innovation Olympics

A team of four MPA students at NYU Wagner and two other NYU students has won top honors at the IXL Innovation Olympics. The sextet’s exemplary business concept for achieving customer excellence for a global pharmaceutical company outshone competing plans submitted by teams from five MBA programs around the country, drawing the $4,000 first prize.

This was the first time a team from Wagner had entered the competition. The team’s success paves the way for Wagner students to participate in future IXL business challenges, run by the Cambridge-based Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership throughout the year. The NYU team's Wagner students consisted of Richard Chen (MPA, 2016), Nathan Leitner (MPA,2016), Samantha Tran (MPA, 2016), and Kevin Van Nguyen (MPA, 2016), all former or current WagnerTech board members, as well as Vanessa Bobadilla (MPH, 2016) and Erica Elizabeth Lohe (Steinhardt, 2016). They worked together during the fall semester to come up with a well-developed plan for corporate sponsor Sanofi, the global healthcare company.

The competition began early in the fall. Sanofi tasked each of the graduate school teams to come up with a method to help it achieve customer excellence in Latin America. Team Wagner devised a rating system for firms operating in the company's supply chain. This concept arose from weeks of research, virtual meetings with company executives, in-team consultations, and check-ins with a monitor from IXL.

“We did very well,” said Van Nguyen, adding that it “felt great” to be able to apply – to a private corporation – the knowledge and skills he has gained about the nonprofit sector as a Wagner student.

What was more, he said, the victory was confirmation that “the skills we learn at Wagner are definitely transferrable and applicable in many different settings.”

Congratulations to all!