Inside USD

USD MBA Team Wins Competition at Net Impact Conference

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Demonstrating a commitment to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, a USD MBA team took first place in a competition late last month at the 2012 Net Impact Conference, one of the world’s leading events for corporate social responsibility. USD’s team will share a $5,000 prize.

The competition was sponsored by Net Impact and the Hitachi Foundation. According to Hitachi, “Pioneer Employers” are those that create their own sustainable advantage by investing in the careers of low-wage employees to improve their lives and boost company performance. USD’s team won $3,000 for its efforts to incorporate “Pioneer” cases into the business school’s curriculum and $2,000 for winning the case analysis portion of the competition.

“It was gratifying to be recognized for our efforts and important for us to represent our school as one offering not only a rigorous MBA program but also a program committed to creating socially responsible leaders,” said Claire Brown (pictured right), an International MBA (IMBA) student. The other members of USD’s team (pictured from left) are Tina D’Amore, Rajesh Huntley and Jessica Critchlow.

The team “really came through with the final goal in mind and a tenacity that will certainly pay off in the business world in the long run,” D’Amore added.

USD won for its case analysis of Ohio-based convenience store chain Quick Trip’s plan to expand while maintaining a culture of investing in and promoting low-wage workers. After making it to the final round, USD bested teams from the Rutgers University School of Business and the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Canada. USD’s team also led a panel discussion about implementing corporate social responsibility in the university’s curriculum in front of conference attendees.

In the case study, teams were charged with analyzing market expansion options for Quick Trip through its regional office in Atlanta. “We identified two counties in North Carolina for expansion and chose the one closest to their existing operations in Atlanta to move into first,” Brown said. “We recommended that the company double the number of stores opened per year from 10 to 20, as this advanced its breakeven point from seven years per store to 4.5 years. In addition, we analyzed employee promotion opportunities with varying entry strategies and found that it was optimal to transfer 100 percent as opposed to 50 percent of the willing Atlanta employees into full-time management positions in the new market. This would relieve pressure for advancement felt in Atlanta and help to maintain their valued corporate culture in North Carolina.”

D’Amore said the competition broadened her understanding of corporate social responsibility. The cases “showed not only that poverty is a real issue here in America but also how business leaders could help alleviate it through low-wage employee development. As future business owners and leaders, this was a real important piece of learning.” The competition also showed that USD is becoming “a leader and pioneer in bringing this type of knowledge into the classroom.”

“We’re very proud of our USD team for winning this prestigious competition,” said Manzur Rahman, associate dean and director of graduate programs for the USD business school. “They represent our students’ commitment to be Changemakers, who are inspired and prepared to use the tools of business to make the world a better place.”

The 2012 Net Impact Conference in Baltimore brought nearly 3,000 students and professionals together to help address the world’s toughest challenges and explore new solutions in areas including corporate impact, social innovation and entrepreneurship, and international development.

– Liz Harman

Photo by Pat Moulton

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