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Else School MBA Students Excel in Aspen Institute Case Competition

by Web on May 4, 2017

A team of four MBA students from the Else School of Management at Millsaps College earned recognition in the Aspen Institute’s prestigious Business & Society International MBA Case Competition.

Else School students Damon Gautreau of Gonzales, La., I Ting Tsai of Taichung, Taiwan, China, Erin Sandlin of Jackson, and Andy Schmegel of Jackson comprised the team that submitted the winning case solution as judged by an internal panel of judges at Millsaps. This case solution then went on to receive an honorable mention in the second-round of judging by an international panel of judges selected by the Aspen Institute.

Millsaps MBA students who also participated in the competition were J.P. Stokes of Jackson, Mary Alex Thigpen of Jackson, Joel Shows of Jackson, and Ben Donald of Jackson.

The MBA students applied their academic training in strategy development and information technology to a real world problem faced by the Corporate Social Responsibility department of IBM, one of the most respected international corporations in the world. “The job of our students was to propose policies, procedures, and/or methodologies that would improve the results and impact of the work of the teams of IBM employees sent out to locations around the world to work on problems faced by populations in developing countries,” said Dr. Bill M. Brister, director of the MBA program, who shepherded students through the competition.

Justin Goldbach, founder and director of the Aspen Institute's Business & Society International MBA Case Competition, praised the Else School team for earning one of five honorable mentions. “Out of 25 top campus submissions from around the world, your team's analysis was judged to be in the #6-10 range,” he said.

Students had a 72-hour window in which to produce their case solution, Brister said, noting that students spent numerous hours reviewing past cases and case solutions before they received the 2017 case.

“The winning Millsaps case solution pointed out that defining social impact is a fluid process that can vary from project to project,” Brister said. “The proposal argued that by creating an operational definition of social impact and using that as a guide to leverage the value of the IBM program will allow the IBM program to improve the quality of its outcomes.

“By implementing a cloud-based system to analyze outcomes, IBM can not only use data to improve the quality of outcomes, but create a knowledge base that can be shared to perpetuate best practices. By further transforming IBM from a thought leader in CSR to lead consultant in the CSR development market, IBM will unilaterally increase social impact while promoting the IBM brand value.”

 Brister said the students achieved notable success during their first year of the competition, which was by invitation only.

“The participating schools are 25 of the finest MBA programs in the world,” he said. “To be one of the schools invited to participate was an honor in itself. To finish in the top 10 and receive an honorable mention was icing on the cake. Our participation and success in this competition illustrates the high quality of our Millsaps MBA students and the high quality of the Millsaps MBA program.”