Students from seven of the Southeast’s best MBA programs will experience how to balance business concerns with social responsibility in the second annual Net Impact Case Competition on Jan. 13, 2006, at Wake Forest University.
The one-day competition, held at Wake Forest’s Babcock Graduate School of Management, is organized by the Wake Forest MBA chapter of the Net Impact club, a national network of business leaders and MBA students committed to incorporating social and environmental factors into business decisions.
This year’s corporate sponsor is The Home Depot. The field includes MBA students from Duke University, the University of Georgia, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of South Carolina, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest.
The goal is to develop an innovative and creative solution to an actual business challenge facing a corporate sponsor. Competing teams begin developing background research and industry information when the corporate sponsor is announced the week prior to the competition. Teams receive the specific case study on the day of the competition. The case involves marketing, finance, operations or other areas and focuses on an issue related to sustainable business practices.
Teams have six hours to develop strategies and formulate solutions before presenting their analysis to a panel of judges. The judges, including corporate and community leaders, evaluate the quality of the analysis and the creativity of solutions provided by each team, and the winning team receives prizes from the sponsor.
Dan McCabe, second-year MBA student at Wake Forest and president of the school’s Net Impact chapter, said the competition accomplishes three goals.
“Students win bragging rights and an understanding of the challenges and benefits involved with making socially responsible business decisions,” McCabe said. “Sponsors get a host of new ideas on how to improve performance as well as validation of existing tactics and strategies, and communities win new business leaders that take social and environmental concerns into account.”
Originally founded as Students for Responsible Business in 1993, Net Impact now consists of a network of 5,000 leaders and an active membership of more than 2,000. Through the central office and 50 local chapters, Net Impact offers programs which broaden the education, leadership skills and professional goals of its members.
The Wake Forest MBA chapter of Net Impact was chartered in the spring of 2002. In the 2004-05 academic year, the club hosted its first regional case competition, sponsored by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The chapter also sent students to the Net Impact national conference in New York and a case competition in Colorado.
Wake Forest ranked No. 10 in the world in last October’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey for preparing its graduates for social and environmental stewardship. The biennial survey and ranking is produced jointly by the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute to honor MBA programs that are taking leading roles in integrating social and environmental stewardship issues into curricula and research.