FLI Innovation Challenge

For Batmandah Mangalam, successful innovation can be traced to two key skills — flexibility and collaboration.

Mangalam, a second-year finance student, was one of nearly 50 students from across Ohio State who participated in the first-ever Innovation Challenge.

The event, hosted by the Fisher Leadership Initiative and the College of Education and Human Ecology, and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) presented students with opportunities to accomplish activities such as performing improv and facing an escape room. Judges critiqued them and offered insightful feedback.

“We learned that we had to use our surroundings or whatever was given to us and immerse into the setting,” he said.

The goal was to create an experience where students could practice leadership and innovation together in teams in a fun, competitive environment, said Dr. Amy Barnes, a clinical assistant professor with the College of Education and Human Ecology.

“Ultimately, we wanted to challenge students to tap into their creativity, explore their capacity for innovation and reflect on their ability to lead effectively in a group setting,” Barnes said.

Sarah Mangia, a senior director of the Fisher Leadership Initiative, said the point was to challenge students to think on their feet, work cohesively and generate innovative solutions in each activity they faced.

“Not only was this a ‘fun’ experience, it also offered students a chance to move outside of their comfort zone, build critical leadership skills and learn about themselves in the process,” she said.

2018 FLI Innovation Challenge 2
Students participate in an interactive exercise as part of the Innovation Challenge, presented by the Fisher Leadership Initiative and the College of Education and Human Ecology.

There was another added incentive for students. The winning team received $500 in the form of $100 Amazon gifts cards for each member of the five-person group.

The experience helped students comprehend the importance of working together.

“I learned that it is crucial to develop a mindset and skill set that helps you adapt to unexpected conditions,” Mangalam said.

Gianna Paterniti, a second-year finance major, described the challenge as a unique opportunity that allowed her to demonstrate the skills she has been learning in her leadership class in a fun, positive environment.

“I really enjoyed getting the chance to work with my team on challenges that incorporated different aspects of innovation and receiving helpful feedback from experts in different fields,” she said.

One of the judges, Autumn Theodore, said the challenge would help students prepare for successful career paths.

“Since I'm an entrepreneur with a marketing background, it was so exhilarating to watch students show strong communications skills,” she said. “These types of strengths will be helpful as they move forward both professionally and personally.”

Mangalam was grateful for the experience with his teammates.

“We had a phenomenal time and knew we did a good job,” he said.