School News

These Michigan Full-Time MBA Women Placed Second in Pinterest Case Competition Aimed at Enhancing Diversity on the Platform

By Alexa Tran

Three women from the Full-Time MBA Program at the Ross School of Business earned second place out of 27 teams at WeSolv’s Pinterest Competitor Analysis and Product Challenge in November, which attracted members from 21 MBA programs across the country. 

The Michigan Ross Full-Time MBA team - Grace Kim, MBA’ 20, Nadia Ogene, MBA ‘21, and Katarina Chan, MBA’ 21 - won a cash prize of $2,000 for creating an innovative way for Pinterest to improve the diversity of its platform. 

Nearly 200 students applied to the Pinterest Case Competition, but only 95 were selected to participate. Teams were challenged to help Pinterest develop a feature or service to help underrepresented communities find the inspiration they need on the platform. 

“I took a human-centered design approach to this case competition. For the first half, I worked with my teammates to first understand what was the underlying issue for underrepresented pinners through customer interviews on how they used the platform. For the second half, we took these findings to ideate various solutions to hone in on our final recommendations for Pinterest,” explained Katarina (Kat) Chan, MBA ‘21. 

WeSolv’s judges said that the Ross team stood out because they had a “focused and strong balance on creators and pinners” and recognized that Pinterest is not simply a social platform, but also an e-commerce platform. 

The team had three recommendations, which included giving Pinterest creators more autonomy over the product tagging system, incorporating more explicit user feedback into Pinterest's search algorithm through better homepage user interface, and implementing a revenue share model with creators through sponsored ads.

Utilizing Michigan Ross Resources

For the competition, the Michigan Ross MBA team utilized many of the resources available at the Kresge Library to conduct research on the competitive landscape and market trends for Pinterest. 

“The Retail Industry Resources database offered to students through the Kresge Library was invaluable in helping us understand consumer trends and the competitive landscape,” Grace Kim, MBA ‘20 said.  

Nadia Ogene, MBA ‘21, added that she read through Kresge’s industry reports to get a better understanding of why Pinterest was not heavily leveraged by underrepresented communities.

Ogene also said that Michigan Ross marketing professor S Sriram's course was particularly helpful with the case competition.

“I’m currently taking New Product and Innovation Management with Dr. Sriram. I absolutely love the course,” she said. “Dr. Sriram does a really great job providing a framework for everything ranging from idea generation to go-to-market strategy.”

Support from the Consortium of Graduate Study in Management

 The Michigan Ross MBA team met through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an alliance of the world’s leading graduate business schools that’s mission is to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership. 

Kim said the biggest benefit of being a Consortium member at Michigan Ross is the open dialogue that takes place about diversity. 

These conversations with other Consortium members continue to give me new perspectives and allow me to understand the challenges of promoting diversity and inclusion

Grace Kim, MBA’ 20

Chan said that being a part of the Consortium has allowed her to further its mission to promote diversity and inclusion efforts within the graduate business community. 

“I saw similarities in that mission with the case competition prompt that was given to us. I was able to tap into these existing networks and conversations from the Consortium to better prepare us for this challenge.”

Learn more about Diversity at Michigan Ross 

 

Featured Faculty

S Sriram
  • Professor of Marketing
  • Michael R. and Mary Kay Hallman Faculty Fellow