Notre Dame MBA wins sustainability case competition

by Carol Elliott

MBA competition

A team of MBA students from the University of Notre Dame took first place in the Ninth Annual Leeds Net Impact Case Competition. The two-day event, held Feb. 19 and 20 at the University of Colorado, brought together the top-rated business schools and future industry leaders. The competition is the premier case format competition built around businesses facing sustainability challenges.

The Notre Dame team included Rachel Reiter, Jeff O’Connor, William O’Brien and Jonathan Phillips, all one-year MBA students graduating in May.

The University of Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business took second place while the University of Alberta School of Business took third.

Sixty-one MBA teams from 39 business schools entered the Leeds event. The case involved analyzing opportunities in renewable energy; more specifically, how to address issues of profitability for Xcel in the areas of increasing renewable energy and energy conservation.

Round one of the competition involved submitting a PowerPoint presentation in early December. Twenty teams then advanced to the February semifinal in Boulder, with five teams competing in the final event. The top three teams earned cash prizes, with Notre Dame taking home $6,000.

Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based public utility with more than $9 billion in annual revenues and customers in eight states, sponsored the competition.

Participants of the competition are affiliated with Net Impact, an international MBA nonprofit association committed to creating a community of business leaders who advance practices of corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development and environmental sustainability.

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.