Schulich team wins the Rotman Net Impact Case Competition

Last weekend, Schulich MBA students Kendal Bradley, Steffen Kramer, Deanna Wu and Michelle Hassen finished first place overall at the Rotman International Net Impact Corporate Social Responsibility Case Competition.

This is the fifth year MBA students from across Canada and the United States have travelled to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto to compete in the case competition focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Twenty-five teams competed in the event.


Above: The winners of the 2011 Rotman/Net Impact CSR Case Competition, from left, Michelle Hassen, Steffen Kramer, Kendal Bradley and Deanna Wu

The Rotman/Net Impact CSR Case Competition offers an opportunity for MBA students to demonstrate their creativity and analytical skills in the area of CSR. Students deal with a case drawn from real life and must find a solution that would best deal with both the financial and social bottom lines successfully.

“This year’s competition demonstrates the increasing awareness of CSR perspectives in decision making among MBA students. Not only did we get overwhelming number of teams registering for the competition, but the quality of the presentations also showed that students had put considerable amount of effort in integrating triple bottom line considerations into their recommendations,” said Siddharth Verma, a Rotman MBA student and competition chair. “Given the rising demand of transparency and accountability of corporations, this shows that MBA students are well positioned to be the next generation of leaders in the real world.”

“The event was exciting,” said Kendal Bradley, the Schulich team’s spokesperson. “We received the case a week in advance of the competition and I really enjoyed working with the team. We developed a great solution to the case and the entire process was very intense and interesting.”

The competing teams tackled a case which featured a medium-sized web hosting company in Germany and its decision to develop a structured CSR initiative as part of its overall business strategy.

“We had to break apart the case, which involved rising energy costs, a shortage of skilled labour and increased competition in virtualization,” said Bradley. “We developed three recommendations for the company and included strategies for increasing energy efficiency, recruitment and retention.”

In their presentations to the judges, who were drawn from a wide range of firms, social organizations and not-for-profit organizations, students needed to address both the financial and social bottom lines.

The winning Schulich team was coached through this process by Dirk Matten, Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility; David Johnston, Schulich professor of operations management & information systems; Professor Markus Biehl, International MBA program director; Burkard Eberlein, professor of policy & strategy; and Joe Fayt, Schulich MBA marketing instructor.

Among the participants in this year’s competition was a second team from the Schulich School of Business. The team, comprised of Celeste O’Neil, Brian Iniguez, Jaspreet Narula and Jessica Bryson, competed in the final round of competition and finished in the top six. A team from the Rotman School of Business placed second with students from Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management coming third.

The competition was supported by Research in Motion, Steelcase, the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School and the Canadian Centre for Ethics & Corporate Policy.

Complete details on the competition are available on the Rotman International Net Impact Corporate Social Responsibility Case Competition website.