Notre Dame MBA wins second place in Aspen Institute case competition

Author: Carol Elliott

MBA Aspen competition

How can business leaders balance the need for business growth while being responsive to the social and environmental needs of the communities in which they operate? That was the issue business students from 25 leading international business schools responded to in a new, complex case study addressing today’s international management challenges, based on the experiences of The Tata Group, a multinational company—and India’s largest business group—operating in seven business sectors.

The MBA team from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame won second place and a cash prize of $10,000 for its plan that effectively leveraged sustainability across Tata’s expanding markets. Team members included MBA student Kevin Richards and 2010 MBA candidates Mathew Ashley, Rachel Reiter and William O’Brien.

The final event of the three-round competition took place April 30 at the W Hotel in New York City, with a panel of executives from Fortune 500 companies serving as judges.

“We want to do well in every competition we enter, but it is especially gratifying to have done well in the Aspen competition because of its focus and the quality of teams it attracts,” said Edward Conlon, associate dean for Graduate Studies at the Mendoza College of Business. “As the Aspen Competition specifically asks participants to solve a case that combines the economic and social goals of business, we are especially proud and pleased that our team did so well. Educating our graduates about how business can both ‘do well’ and ‘do good’ is at the core of our mission.”

Other schools joining Mendoza in the top five were: the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University; the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University; School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä (Finland); and Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

The presentation and award reception are the culmination of a process that began in early April with on-campus competitions at the 25 schools to determine first place campus winners. Their work was then reviewed by a group of academic judges to determine the final five teams.

The case competition, the largest focusing on social, ethical and environmental issues, is sponsored by the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, whose mission is to equip business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm—the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability and social value.

“What current business students learn about the complex relationship of business and society facilitates the changes we need to grow and thrive as a global community,” says Judith Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. “We are inspired by the work presented by these 20 students today. It demonstrates their business schools’ commitment to teaching thoughtful and long-term business strategies that balance the needs of a wide range of stakeholders.”

The Aspen Institute case competition, started in 2002, is the largest focusing on social, ethical and environmental issues. This year’s competition, with a record number of participating schools, was sponsored by Deutsche Bank, Humana, ING, Levi Strauss & Co., L’Oréal, Motorola Foundation, NBC Universal and Verizon.

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program is dedicated to developing leaders for a sustainable global society. Information on other Aspen Institute Business and Society Programs, is available online at

The Notre Dame MBA at the Mendoza College of Business enrolls approximately 340 students annually in its one-year and two-year programs. The program is designed to sharpen students’ analytical and problem-solving skills, enhance their leadership ability and increase emphasis on ethical decision making. Students have the opportunity to study the complexities of global business through international immersions in Asia, Latin America and other locations.

During the week-long Interterm Intensives, the MBA students analyze, investigate and offer solutions for real-life problems presented by executives from large global organizations. The Notre Dame MBA is ranked 20th among U.S. business schools by BusinessWeek, and No. 5 in the Aspen Institute’s 2009-10 Beyond Grey Pinstripes, a biennial survey and alternate ranking that indicates the school’s success in integrating social, environmental and ethical issues into its program.

For more information about the Notre Dame MBA, visit on the Web.