soni-bw-2Saundarya Mehra, a Haas junior and environmental enthusiast, is a double major in Environmental Economics and Policy and Business Administration. She currently is president of Venture Strategy Solutions and Assistant Director of Operations at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute. Mehra is currently in Professor Solomon Darwin’s Open Innovation UGBA 190T class.




In Saundarya’s words:

Last Thursday, on October 23, 2014, I attended the Berkeley Innovation Forum with my classmates from Professor Solomon Darwin’s Open Innovation in Technology class (UGBA 190t). The event took place in the “penthouse” of the Memorial Stadium: the exclusive University Club. Featuring a 180 degree panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay Area, the venue was elite and representative as its attendees. From FedEx to GE, conglomerate giants from across industries had sent their best and brightest top executives to collaborate with the undergraduate students at the Haas School of Business.

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What started off as a networking lunch quickly morphed into a collaborative work environment with executives and students huddled around business model canvases bursting with potential. My group, the GE team (featured above left to right: Karl Mochel, Bea Abellan, Chantal Marin, Hector Ayon, Saundarya Mehra, Epiphany Ryu, and Solomon Darwin), ended up presenting our entire business model solution of bringing rural healthcare to india via telemedicine to Mr. Karl Mochel, User Experience Architect at GE Global Research, Dr. Girish Nallur, Collaboration and Open Innovation expert at FedEx, and Mr. G S Nathan, General Manager of Wipro (Chennai). Their experience shone through the minor holes within our business model at the same time providing us with the constructive criticism to patch these holes.

Whether it be challenging us upon the Indian public perception of our idea or questioning the financial viability of our revenue model, the experienced professionals at the event were willing to listen, learn, and contribute. In fact, once the conference ended, my group and I ended up running into Mr. Magnus George, a visiting professor from Lancaster University, in the Haas courtyard. A simple invitation to join us for coffee ended up in an after hours discussion of his career trajectory from a fisherman to an entrepreneur to a professor on open innovation in the United Kingdom. The spirit of collaboration and cooperation had trickled down from the high-rise of memorial stadium to the courtyard of Haas.

And it continues to trickle down even deeper into the ideals and values of the undergraduate community here at Haas. Competition aside, we are bringing in an era of coopetition that fosters innovation through collaboration and peer motivation; we are brining in an era of questioning the status quo.