Gerlach Hall

Presented with an opportunity to represent Fisher College of Business at a nationwide case competition unlike any other, a team of MBA students jumped at the chance. The competition was fierce, and the chance to engage with representatives of one of the most recognizable tech firms in the world was appealing.  

But for the Fisher students, participating in the John E. Martin Mental Healthcare Tech Challenge also helped reinforce their decision to pursue an MBA at Ohio State.  

Andrew Badea
Andrew Badea

"Mental health is non-discriminatory and affects people from all walks of life. A big reason you commit to the rigor of a Fisher MBA is to challenge conventional thinking and drive meaningful impact on issues that matter,” said first-year MBA student Andrew Badea. “Mental health demands our attention, especially in the context of COVID where the ramifications of extended lockdowns have not been fully felt.”  

The challenge, sponsored by the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Healthcare Association and Technology Club in partnership with Google, tasked participating teams with utilizing technology to improve mental healthcare within the construction industry. More than 80 teams submitted initial proposals, with the top 12 advancing as finalists.   

Over the course of a week, the Fisher students — George Durisek, Fawwaz Haq, Mario Ramos Soszna and Badea — wire-framed their idea on a rapidly growing line of business for Google: wearable technology. The team designed a badge that, when worn, would track physiological markers of someone struggling with mental health issues. In researching manifestations of poor mental health, the team found that posture, balance and the tone of a person’s voice can be indicative of problems. Their solution wouldn’t track what was said, but rather how it was said.   

Mario Ramos Soszna headshot
Mario Ramos Soszna

Each member of the team possessed experience or knowledge of various areas of health care, which helped them troubleshoot potential problems with how their idea could be concepted, accepted and eventually scaled.  

“We struggled a lot with how collecting this data was not going to be an intrusion of privacy and how that would impact someone’s medical history,” said Mario Ramos Soszna. “But Fawaz knew how insurance and HIPAA laws work. And between all of us, we knew a little about the assessments that people with mental health issues take, which informed how our device would analyze and interpret the data it collected.”   

After three days of nonstop preparation for their first-ever virtual case competition, the team pitched their idea to the challenge’s judges. Competing against teams from schools including Harvard, Wharton, Tuck, Kellogg and Tepper, the solution pitched by the Fisher students was named the “Most Innovative.” Many of the concepts pitched by other schools involved the creation of a mobile app that relied on self-administered surveys of how construction workers felt at certain points of their workdays.  

Fawwaz Haq
Fawwaz Haq

“We were excited to represent The Ohio State University in such a prestigious competition,” Ramos Soszna said. “We were well aware we were up against highly talented programs but saw this as an opportunity to collaborate with other programs to combat mental health in the construction industry.”   

For Haq, a member of the MBA for Working Professionals program, the competition brought out the best in his graduate education experience.  

"At Fisher and at Ohio State, in general, the sense of community that we all share cannot be overemphasized. We are part of one big family,” he said. “This sense of community is actively taught at Fisher and allowed us to have seamless communication and great team dynamics. The heavy focus on research at Fisher also allowed us to be competitive against the best business schools in the country.”    

George Durisek
George Durisek

Competing in the event only solidified each team member’s interest in putting their graduate education to work in the health care field, Durisek said.  

“It was incredibly inspiring. Unfortunately, most media and news attention pertaining to mental health is presented in a saddened connotation and is followed by metrics that typically do not foster optimism,” he said. “It was amazing to be engaged in an event involving mental health where we learned about and contributed to the innovative ideas and advancements that hopefully will have a positive impact on others.” 

"A big reason you commit to the rigor of a Fisher MBA is to challenge conventional thinking and drive meaningful impact on issues that matter."

Andrew BadeaFirst-year MBA student