Weatherhead Graduate Students Win Prestigious Aspen Institute Case Competition | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Weatherhead Graduate Students Win Prestigious Aspen Institute Case Competition

Posted 4.30.2010

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April 30, 2010

Rebecca Murphy

Marla Zwinggi

Weatherhead team makes the case for a new business model in Business and Society competition

NEW YORK—Weatherhead School of Management graduate students Nicholas Anasinis, MBA ’10, Maria Ismail, MBA ’10, Patricia Jurca, MBA ’10, and Lei Yang, MSM-Finance ’11 took first place at the Aspen Institute’s 2010 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition.

The students were flown to New York to compete against teams from four other leading business schools for worldwide recognition. The Aspen Institute’s case competition is the largest focusing on social, ethical, and environmental issues, and has been held annually since 2002, with this year’s event seeing a record number of participating schools.

Anasinis, Ismail, Jurca, and Yang went up against twenty contending teams in the second round of the competition to advance to the finals, held on April 30 at the W New York hotel in midtown Manhattan. During the last round of judging, the Weatherhead students overcame finalists from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, the University of Jyväskylä’s School of Business and Economics (Finland), and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management as they presented their submissions to a panel of judges from Fortune 500 companies as well as an audience of over 100 business, nonprofit, and academic attendees. Coached by Associate Professor of Marketing and Policy Studies Simon Peck, PhD; Adjunct Professor of Organizational Behavior Bonnie Richley, PhD; and Executive Director of the Fowler Center Roger Saillant, PhD, the Weatherhead team received a $20,000 prize, plus $3,000 to donate to a 501(c)(3) charity of their choice. The team chose to donate the money to Remember Nhu, a charity that combats the child sex trade worldwide.

The mission of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program is to promote the integration of corporate profitability and social value, a goal identical to one of the main focuses at Weatherhead, where Sustainable Enterprise is a value that informs curriculum. This year, the Aspen Institute asked competing teams from twenty-five leading international business schools to respond to today’s international management challenges, focusing on a complex case study of the Tata Group, a multinational company—and India’s largest business group—operating in seven business sectors, and concerned with growing as a business while being responsive to the social and environmental needs of the communities in which it operates.

Team member Maria Ismail says that in addition to her background in Sustainable Enterprise, the unique emphasis in Weatherhead’s curriculum on Manage by Designing greatly contributed to her group’s success. “My teammate Patricia [Jurca] and I both took sustainability and design classes at Weatherhead, so we were able to think through the demands of different stakeholders while being cognizant of not having premature closure,” she explains. “Something we learned from design is not to jump to conclusions without weighing all the evidence.”

“Congratulations to Nicholas, Maria, Patricia, and Lei on their hard work and ingenuity,” says Mohan Reddy, PhD, Dean of the Weatherhead School of Management. “I’m so proud of our team’s achievement and the Aspen Institute’s recognition of our talented graduate students. Winning the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Case Competition is especially meaningful for a team from our school, because Sustainable Enterprise is one of our core transdisciplinary themes at Weatherhead. It is emphasized throughout our graduate programming.” He continues, “We believe that businesses can and must pursue financial success in a positive, socially-responsible manner, and our commitment to sustainability is part of that conviction.”

To read the Weatherhead team’s responses to this year’s case study, visit


About Case Western Reserve University and the Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University, one of the nation’s leading research universities, traces its origins to the founding of Western Reserve College in 1826 and the Case Institute of Technology in 1880, culminating in the merger of both the undergraduate and graduate schools in 1967. Approximately 10,000 students are enrolled, from more than 100 nations. Two-thirds of the student population attend Case Western Reserve University’s graduate and professional schools.

The Weatherhead School of Management is different from other business schools. We are bold in our ideas, creative in our approach, and adaptive in our interactions within a changing business environment. We’ve enhanced traditional management education by integrating the fundamentals of business with ideas and practices that change individuals, organizations, and societies. Our graduates are ready to add immediate value to their organizations, their communities, and the world.

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