What a fulfilling experience it was to have represented Imperial College Business School last month in the finals of the worldwide Alira Health Case competition in Milan, along with four other exceptional team members.

The team comprised of Orestis Dounias, Tiago Costa and myself, on the Full-Time MBA, and Sharan Ahluwalia and Vittoria Stefanello on the MSc International Health Management programme.

We barely knew each other when this journey began, yet that did not matter as we were able to work smoothly as a team. Besides, we also shared the same mindset about our specific goal: making it to the finals in Milan.

The Alira Health Case competition at SDA Bocconi School of Management consists of solving a real industry case related to the launch strategy of a new drug that will potentially lead to better clinical efficacy and an improved safety profile for a rare disease. The definition of a rare disease is a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.

Over 110 teams applied from 30 of the top business schools around the globe, and ultimately, they select only 10 finalists to travel to Milan. Finalist teams came from prestigious business schools that included INSEAD, HEC-Paris, LBS, ESADE, Cambridge Judge, Dartmouth and more.

We had two weeks to prepare and submit our initial case proposal, which included determining a target population for the new drug, developing an optimal pricing strategy and implementing a business model.

Our case proposal focused on a holistic patient care approach enhanced by digital solutions that in turn, benefited all stakeholders in the ecosystem: patients, payers and prescribers. Two weeks after the case submission, we received the excellent news that we have advanced to the final round.

Once in Milan, there were several exciting things to come, including the competition and Italian food. The event was at the SDA Bocconi School of Management, where they gave us new relevant information about the next steps of the competition.

The first day was as intense as expected. After the reception and briefing, they put us in different classrooms with healthcare consultants from Alira Health to continue working on and enhancing our proposal. Our team worked for ten consecutive hours with only a half-hour dinner break.

Finally, the big day came and we had only 18 minutes to pitch our case to a group of 20 judges comprised of faculty professors from SDA Bocconi and healthcare industry leaders. I am not going to lie, the environment in the room was tense, but we managed it very well. We delivered quite a compelling presentation.

In the end, the final results were not in our favour (as we did not win), but we still came out as winners. We were proud of each other’s hard work over the last month. The competition was a learning experience since we had the opportunity to explore more about the tendencies and challenges in the fast-paced healthcare sector. But more importantly, we met fascinating people from different corners of the globe.

To conclude, I would like to encourage all students to embark on as many extracurricular opportunities as you can at Imperial College Business School. Pushing yourselves to new experiences can be daunting, but oftentimes it is memorable journeys like this that make you grow as individuals.