The pair’s winning proposal centered on making people’s stories of bias and belonging relatable
Two Indian American students at the University of South Florida took the top prize at the Amgen Strategy Competition for a strategy proposal aimed at keeping a company’s workforce diverse.
The winning pitch of Aishwarya Kulkarni and Raunak Ghosh beat out competing proposals from dozens of other universities across the country, according to a USF press release.
Kulkarni and Ghosh are both graduate students in business analytics and information systems program at USF MUMA College of Business.
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They won first place for presenting on the topic of career development strategies to maintain the percentage of diverse talent at all levels of hierarchy.
The month-long competition culminated in an in-person pitch on Nov 18 before a panel of senior leaders from Amgen, a biotech company.
The pair’s winning proposal centered on making people’s stories of bias and belonging relatable.
“Our main concept was the Human Library project, where people can express their stories of overcoming any biases or issues that they had faced and how they overcame those issues, which would inspire people in the organization and bring about a sense of inclusion with respect to empathizing certain scenarios,” Ghosh said.
The Human Library Organization is a nonprofit headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark that offers diversity and inclusion training to companies and institutions. They also host events featuring volunteers with personal experience with their topic.
Ghosh said they also proposed companies emphasize diversity in exit interviews, host events based on the diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB) theme, and offer surveys to gather data on employee reactions to DIB policies and how they are treated by the company.
The pair was mentored by Amgen leader Arnold Eddula, who is the global head of operations in cybersecurity.
Ghosh said he was encouraged to see the number of companies and organizations taking a big stand on the important issues of diversity, inclusion and belonging.
“We got to understand how to make a presentation impactful for the viewers. We also understood the value of teamwork as we worked with each other, coordinating with our mentor, and implementing valuable feedback into our presentation, which eventually got us the first prize,” he said.
The Indian American students bested teams from the University of Southern California and the University of California-Riverside, who took second and third place.
In all, 100 students from 23 universities and colleges across the country took part in the competition. Teams were tasked to pitch a strategy from four different topics.