Aspen Institute Competition Prompts MBA Students to Innovate for the Good of Business and Society

April 30, 2019

Students representing top business schools analyzed a brand-new case study, authored by the Yale School of Management, focused on cleaner energy and local economic development

Contact: Keith Schumann
Communications Manager
The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program
(212) 895-8039│

New York, NY, April 30, 2019 – Eighteen MBA students – selected from nearly 1,000 worldwide – have won a share of over $30,000 in scholarship money by tackling a real-life business challenge at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive environmental impact.

Through the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition, along with lead partner Johnson & Johnson, students representing top business schools analyzed a brand-new case study, authored by the Yale School of Management about the Connecticut Green Bank. As the nation’s first green bank, the Connecticut Green Bank was formed in 2011 to promote cleaner, less expensive, and more reliable sources of energy while creating jobs and supporting local economic development. The Aspen Institute’s Competition tasked students with helping the Green Bank and Inclusive Prosperity Capital (IPC), a non-profit organization co-created by the Green Bank in 2018, by proposing a new program or an enhancement to an existing program that would position both organizations for financially sustainable growth.

Prizes were awarded at a breakfast event attended by 160 guests, including the Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, on Friday, April 26th at the Yale Club of New York City. Guests heard from the winning team, celebrated the 2019 Case Competition finalists, and met a remarkably diverse and accomplished group of MBA students.

Congratulations to this year’s winning teams, representing:

  • 1st Place: Questrom School of Business, Boston University
  • 2nd Place: Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • 3rd Place: Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University
  • 4th Place: Palumbo Donahue School of Business, Duquesne University
  • 5th Place: Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Honorable Mentions were awarded to five additional teams (in alphabetical order):

  • Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
  • College of Business, East Carolina University
  • The George Washington University School of Business
  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
  • Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University

At a time when the topic is much discussed, the 1st place proposal impressed judges with a vision for making a green economy a tangible part of everyday life in Connecticut. The Questrom team didn’t just detail the financial and environmental implications of a switch to electric school buses, they invented a mascot, Sunny the Solar Panel, to give this technical initiative an instantly recognizable brand identity.

“Our competition prompts MBA students to innovate for the good of business and society, using their analytical and critical thinking skills on a real situation, and the Green Bank is a perfect subject,” said Justin Goldbach, Founder & Director of The Aspen Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition. “The Yale SOM case study on the Green Bank highlights its success in Connecticut, and its influence on the formation of other green banks, but also shows their continued need to innovate to remain viable and overcome obstacles.”

About the Case

Since its inception, the Green Bank has helped create 16,500 induced, indirect and direct job years and prevented more than 5.3 million tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Yet, as quasi-governmental agency, the Green Bank is not immune to the budgetary pressures confronting the State of Connecticut. Facing a massive deficit for FY2018 and FY2019, the legislature, as a revenue-raising measure, swept over half of CGB’s earmarked revenue stream into the state’s general fund.

In response, CGB restructured its operations with an eye to self-sufficiency. To reduce overhead, CGB also established a not-for-profit subsidiary, Inclusive Prosperity Capital (IPC), to take over programs with less lucrative returns that benefited low- to moderate-income (LMI) households. This new arrangement posed both challenges and opportunities.

Enter Yale School of Management and the International Case Competition. Students had just 72 hours to review and respond to the new case study authored by a team at the Yale School of Management. The task? Develop a strategy that would enable the Connecticut Green Bank to meet its financial targets while expanding its programs, and a strategy to scale that leverages its association with the CGB, while establishing an independent presence.

On-campus competitions determined first-place school winners, whose case analyses were then blindly reviewed by an academic panel assembled by the Aspen Institute to determine the five finalist teams. All finalist teams received prize money, with the first-place team receiving $15,000 in scholarship funds. Now in its tenth year, the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition encourages the next generation of business leaders to think innovatively about the role of business in solving the world’s most complex and pressing challenges.

Sponsors and Partners

The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program is grateful for the generous support of its corporate partners:

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Credit Suisse
  • The J.M. Kaplan Fund
  • SAGE Publishing
  • Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

The breakfast event was energized with a keynote address by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who emphasized the critical contribution private sector expertise can make in state governments, the “laboratories of democracy.” He was joined on a panel discussion with Bryan Garcia, President & CEO, Connecticut Green Bank, and Matt Arnold, Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Finance, JPMorgan Chase. Moderated by the Business & Society Program’s Executive Director Judith Samuelson, the panel was an exciting exchange of ideas.

The Aspen Institute is also thankful for the support, time, and enthusiasm of this year’s judges: Vero Bourg-Meyer, Program Director for Clean Energy and Conservation Finance at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment; A. Damordaran, Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore; Jaan Elias, Director of Case Study Research and Development at the Yale School of Management (SOM); Maureen Scully, College of Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston; Maureen Adams, Executive Editor, Business and Management, SAGE Publishing; James Barkley, Managing Director, Credit Suisse; Peter W. Davidson, CEO & Co-Founder, Aligned Intermediary; Ralph Earle, Managing Director, Clean Energy Ventures Group; Bert Hunter, Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer, Connecticut Green Bank; Jane Mendillo, Trustee, Old Mountain Private Trust Company; Yezenia Ramos, Senior Manager of Employee Engagement – Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson; Matthew Slovik, Managing Director & Head of Global Sustainable Finance, Morgan Stanley; Catherine Smith, Former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

In addition to the schools mentioned above, the Aspen Institute is proud to celebrate the other partnering schools in this year’s program:

  • Athens University of Economics and Business
  • Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College – CUNY
  • Columbia Business School, Columbia University
  • Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College
  • Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
  • Griffith Business School, Griffith University
  • INCAE Business School
  • Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University
  • Smith School of Business, Queen’s University
  • Melbourne Business School
  • Daniels College of Business, University of Denver
  • School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä
  • Villanova School of Business, Villanova University

Learn more about the Business & Society International MBA Case Competition by visiting the competition’s official website:

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, founded in 1998, works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society—and the planet. Through carefully designed networks, working groups and focused dialogue, the Program identifies and inspires thought leaders and “intrapreneurs” to challenge conventional ideas about capitalism and markets, to test new measures of business success, and to connect classroom theory and business practice. For more information, visit Subscribe here to our weekly email digest of Ideas Worth Teaching at the intersection of business & society.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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