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The Winners’ Circle

News Story

Grad students Hifza Rahim ’19, Sushmitha Mudda ’20, and Manushi Dave ’20, just won the top prize at A+E Networks’ 2019 Interactive Case Competition for their new streaming model pitch. And they beat out Ivy Leagues!

The future of television and online media is here, and it’s being pioneered by three Pace graduate students! Hifza Rahim ’19, who is pursuing her MS in Enterprise Analytics; Sushmitha Mudda ’20, who is pursuing her MBA in Marketing Management; and Manushi Dave ’20, who is pursuing her MS in Human Resource Management all recently participated—and won—the A+E Networks’ Interactive Case Competition.

A highly regarded opportunity for graduate students, the Interactive Case Competition challenges participants to create cutting-edge marketing strategies for media, particularly in the age of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, the latest company to jump on the trend.

Mudda first heard about this unique competition from another student in the Lubin Graduate Marketing Society. From there, she pitched the idea to Rahim and offered her a spot on the burgeoning team. “The theme seemed interesting, so I agreed to join in,” Rahim said. Dave also heard about the competition from someone else at Pace who attended the year prior.

Just like that, their team was set—but the challenge had only just begun. They needed to work together in order to succeed. “I really got lucky with [our] team,” Mudda told us. “We had the same dedication towards finding a solution for the case study and our conversations extended to more than just the competition.” She said they asked each other plenty of questions throughout the process and sometimes disagreed (as all great minds do) before arriving upon a solution. “It was a combination of lots of research, help from our coaches, and working on our case study day in and out.”

Rahim added that, “Researching information and data points for all of these components was an excellent learning opportunity for us, especially about the media and entertainment industry.”

They arrived at the competition fully prepared, and once there, the team was expected to participate in three highly competitive rounds. “Each round was a lot of work along with extensive group meetings and discussions,” Dave told us. “The schools we were competing against were all tier one—some Ivy Leagues—and to actually reach the finals and beat them was definitely surprising and so encouraging.”

Rahim agreed. “It was a great feeling knowing that we beat teams from MIT Sloan and Columbia Business School in the competition,” she said, noting that the exposure and networking opportunities that came from the experience were also a big part of what made their win special.

Their pitch, a new streaming model they named “The Zero Sum Model,” monetized consumer behavior by potentially increasing revenues, maximizing viewer reach, and reducing password sharing. And they had to present their idea before a live audience, not to mention a panel of top executives who judged their work. “We were a much smaller team [...] compared to others,” Rahim explained. “But all of us were highly dedicated and it made all the difference.”

“[Our] team was fabulous,” Dave enthused. “In the end, we all gave our best effort to win this competition, [and] our mentors were with us at every step and guided us through from beginning to end. We owe a great deal to them.”

They qualified as one of the top four teams in only the first round, and in the second, they beat out the likes of Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and Drexel. By the end, all three Setters swept the competition and won first prize. We’re so delighted to hear about their success! Their business savvy and incredible innovation will surely enable them to pioneer more ideas in the future.

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