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

May 3, 2017

MBA students win nearly $35,000 in scholarship money by tackling business challenges at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive impact.

Contact: Trisha King
Program Associate
The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program
(212) 895-8065│

New York, NY, May 3, 2017 – Eighteen MBA students – selected from close to 1,000 worldwide – have won a share of nearly $35,000 in scholarship money by tackling a real-life business challenge at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive social and environmental impact.

Through the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition, along with lead partner BNY Mellon, students representing 25 top business schools analyzed a brand new case study, authored by the Yale School of Management, about the IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC). Founded in 2007, IBM CSC had become the largest pro bono consulting program in the world sending nearly 500 IBM employees each year to consult with organizations in countries all over the globe.

Prizes were awarded at a breakfast event attended by 160 guests on Friday, April 28th at the Yale Club of New York City. Guests heard from the winning team, celebrated the 2017 Case Competition finalists and meet a remarkably diverse and accomplished group of MBA students.

Congratulations to this year’s winning teams, representing:

  • 1st Place: Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • 2nd Place: Duquesne University, Donahue Graduate School of Business
  • 3rd Place: New York University, Stern School of Business
  • 4th Place: University of Jyvaskyla, School of Business and Economics (Finland)
  • 5th Place: Boston University, Questrom School of Business

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

  • Millsaps College, Else School of Management
  • Rutgers Business School
  • University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
  • University of Denver, Daniels College of Business
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Lazaridis School of Business & Economics (Canada)

The competition judges were wowed by the First Place MBA team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for their comprehensive, thoughtful, and doable recommendations. “If I were IBM, I could really imagine myself taking this package [of ideas] to senior management and garnering their support,” said one of the judges.

“The Case Competition celebrates a growing movement—and a growing number of business leaders—who are stepping up, speaking out, and acting in ways that strengthen our capitalist system while also making the world a better place,” said Claire Preisser, Associate Director at the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program. “We are thrilled to recognize these students who are thinking critically about what makes a good business decision and developing practical business solutions to the significant challenges this case presented.”

About the Case
Students had just 72 hours to review and respond to the new case study which challenged them to enhance the social impact of IBM’s renowned Corporate Service Corps (CSC). The CSC promises a triple benefit: leadership training for IBM staff, brand recognition for the company in emerging markets, and community development in the areas served by IBM’s host organizations. In the competition, students were tasked with developing practical strategies for IBM to implement that would systematically improve CSC’s design in order to maximize the social impact of the consulting projects while preserving the program’s other benefits.

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 eighth 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:

  • AXA US
  • BNY Mellon
  • Brunswick Group
  • IBM
  • Sage Business Cases
  • Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

During the breakfast event, Jennifer Crozier, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship at IBM and President of the IBM International Foundation, shared insights on IBM CSC and the role of business in societal change. She was joined on the panel by Jyoti Chopra, Managing Director of Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Global Citizenship & Sustainability at BNY Mellon and David Bach, Senior Associate Dean, Executive MBA & Global Programs and Professor of Practice of Management at the Yale School of Management.

The Aspen Institute is also thankful for the support, time, and enthusiasm of this year’s judges: Vero Bourg-Meyer, Project Editor, Case Study Research and Development, Yale School of Management; Liz Dahan, Director, New York, Brunswick Group; Heidi DuBois, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Investing, BNY Mellon; Thomas Kamei, Investor, Growth Team, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow; Samuel Lee, Teaching Fellow, Department of Asian and Policy Studies, The Education University of Hong Kong; Jason Tauber, Portfolio Manager, Large Cap Disciplined Growth Team, Neuberger Berman; Gina Tesla, Director of Corporate Citizenship Initiatives, IBM; Marc J Ventresca, Organizational and Economic Sociologist, Faculty, University of Oxford, Saïd Business School;

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

  • Appalachian State University, Walker College of Business
  • Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece)
  • Baruch College – CUNY, Zicklin School of Business
  • ESMT European School of Management and Technology (Germany)
  • Fordham University, Graduate School of Business
  • Griffith University, Griffith Business School (Australia)
  • Lamar University, College of Business
  • Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Fisher MBA in Global Impact Management
  • The George Washington University, School of Business
  • The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Business School (Australia)
  • The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business
  • University of Iowa, Henry B. Tippie School of Management
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, Isenberg School of Management
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City, Henry W. Bloch School of Management
  • Villanova University, Villanova School of Business

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

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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