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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CEIBS MBAs Heading to Finals of Nespresso Sustainability Challenge 2015

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April 21, 2015. Shanghai – Four CEIBS MBA students have become the first team from an Asian B-school to make it to the final round of the prestigious Nespresso Sustainability Challenge. Asier Guevara, Birottam Dutta, Divya Joseph and Vivian Han will travel to Lausanne, Switzerland June 2-5, 2015, to present their proposal to a panel of judges that will include top executives of Nestlé and Nespresso, as well as high-level academics and sustainability experts. Teams from 73 of the world’s top business schools entered this year’s competition; fifteen made it to the semi-finals and three have been chosen for the final round. Professor of Marketing Lydia Price, who is Director of the Euro-China Centre for Leadership and Responsibility, is the faculty sponsor for the CEIBS MBA team.

“Life at a B-school can be exciting for many reasons, but there are a few defining moments like these which make it even more special,” says Divya. “Working on live business cases and coming up with real business solutions builds so much confidence within students to go out into the real world into their real jobs to make contributions that can have a positive business and environmental impact”.

This global MBA challenge is organized by Nespresso in partnership with The Sustainable Markets Intelligence Centre (CIMS) and Latin America’s leading business school INCAE. The competition requires teams to develop a Creating Shared Value Strategy based on a case study of Nespresso’s sustainable sourcing of coffee that has been prepared by INCAE in collaboration with Nespresso. The principle of Creating Shared Value was developed by Harvard Professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. It maintains that companies have a responsibility to create and share value not just for shareholders but also for the communities in which they operate. The judges for this competition evaluate teams on their understanding of the case, creativity, feasibility of their proposal, and soundness of their qualitative and quantitative analysis.

“It is such an exciting experience. There has been a lot of learning and I have come to better understand the importance of implementing concepts of circular economy. It is important for the success of any business going forward,” says Vivian.

Birottam says the experience also points out the value of teamwork. “While we were brainstorming for a solution, Asier came up with a brilliant thought. After many hours of team work, where each of us evaluated the pros and cons of this idea, we finally decided that this is what the team wanted to propose,” he says. “Together the team then covered all business aspects required for the successful implementation of our suggestion. Our solution may be ambitious but it is implementable. I guess that is exactly why Nespresso wants to hear more about it.”

The students are now busy preparing their presentation for the judges. The team that wins the Nespresso Sustainability Challenge 2015 will get to take a week-long trip to Costa Rica where they will get a closer look at the coffee industry and make practical links with the theoretical challenges presented in the competition.