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First Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition - Fall 2014

The Smeal College of Business is pleased to announce that it will launch its inaugural MBA sustainability case competition late this summer.  Smeal is in its sixth year of integrating sustainability into its teaching, research and outreach missions. The MBA sustainability case competition is its most recent teaching initiative.

Developing the ability of students to make a compelling business case for integrating sustainability into a company’s operations, products, or governance is essential to Smeal’s approach to teaching sustainability. This approach is strongly endorsed by the Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board that consists of representatives from companies with distinguished sustainability records, including membership in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.  One of these companies, SKF, will be the subject of a case that is being written specifically for this competition.  SKF, Alcoa, International paper, PepsiCo, and Verizon are sponsors of the First Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition.

The case setting is an SKF business area that includes units that make and sell bearings, seals, and actuators for both traditional and renewable energy industries. Current and anticipated regulations plus political and social trends in the US and elsewhere have both positive and negative implications for SKF’s strategic priorities and investment decisions.  Registration is open to teams from any AASCB accredited MBA program in the US and Canada. Teams may consist of three or four members and a maximum of two teams per MBA program.  At least three team members must be MBA students. Registration will begin on Friday, August 22 and end at midnight on Monday, September 15. The fee to register is $100.

The competition will consist of two rounds. The case will be available to registered MBA teams by 12pm (Noon) on Friday, September 19. The preliminary round will consist of electronic submissions of case analyses by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 1. Submissions will include a PowerPoint summary of the case analysis (maximum of ten slides) and an Executive Summary (one page). A panel of judges will select five teams to be finalists and announce the results on Friday, October 24.  These teams will be invited to Penn State to compete for first ($10,000), second ($5000) and third place ($2500) prizes. Finalists may use any audio-visual medium (including but not limited to PowerPoint slides) to supplement their oral presentation.  A panel of judges from the sponsoring companies will select the winners. The Smeal College will cover expenses for rooms and meals while finalists are on campus. Finalists are expected to pay their own travel expenses to University Park, PA. The final round will be held on December 4-5, 2014.

Important dates to review:

  • Registration submission between August 22-September 15
  • The case will be available to registered MBA teams by 12pm (Noon) on Friday, September 19
  • PowerPoint (no more than 10 slides) and 1 page Executive Summary due by 5:00 pm on October 1
  • Finalist Results - Announced on October 24
  • Finalist Round - December 4-5 at University Park Campus


    Submission Instructions:

    • Your submissions are due no later than 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 1. As a reminder, please add an eleventh slide to your PPT slide deck or an extra  sheet to your executive summary that includes your team member names and school affiliation. Do not put your names, school or logo on any other slides or pages. We will substitute the added page that has your ID with a coded page that we will use to track your submission through the evaluation process.
    • In the interest of fairness, all teams should have an equal amount of space in which to write their executive summary. Therefore, margins (L, R, T, B) on the one-page executive summary must be 1”.  Fonts must be Times New Roman, No. 11.
    • Annotations on the PPT slide “notes” are not considered part of a submission. Essential slide content must fit within the “presentation mode”

      For further information, contact Dr. Gerald Susman at gis1@psu.edu.


      I am pleased to announce the selection of five teams as finalists for the Smeal MBA Case Competition.  These teams will be invited to Penn State on December 4-5 to compete for $17,500 in prize money.  As the twenty-nine registered teams know, identification was removed from all submissions and replaced with a code number.  None of the five judges knew the identity of any team during the evaluation.  Narrowing the number of teams to five was extremely difficult after the best ten or so had been identified.  These submissions were re-read and ranked in order to determine the final five teams.  Many thanks to my Smeal faculty colleagues, Donald Hambrick, Vilmos Misangyi, Raghu Garud, Terry Harrison for assisting me in the evaluation.  Gerald Susman

      Ohio State (Fisher)  Team leader is Joseph Gavin
      Dartmouth  (Tuck)   Team leader is Jonathan Elkin
      Indiana University (Kelley) Team leader is  Kevin Ruuhela
      Purdue (Krannert)  Team leader is Arun Bharadwaj
      Penn State (Smeal)  Team leader is Darius Yuwono  

      We will contact these five teams within the next two weeks to help them make plans for their trip to University Park, PA.  The composition of the panel of judges to evaluate the presentations by the finalists is nearly complete.  It will consist of three senior executives from SKF, one from Pepsico, and a fifth executive yet to be named.

      Many thanks to the twenty-nine teams that registered for the case competition.  The quality of your work was truly impressive and made our selection task especially challenging.  The full list of registered teams is as follows – each school was allowed to register up to two teams:

      Penn State Smeal (2)
      Temple Fox (2)
      Ohio State Fisher (2)
      IIT Stuart
      Duquesne (2)
      Pitt Katz
      Dartmouth Tuck
      Boston University
      Carnegie-Mellon Tepper (2)
      University of Virginia Darden (2)
      William & Mary Mason (2)
      Arizona State (2)
      UC Davis
      Purdue Krannert (2)
      Indiana University Kelley (2)
      Clark University
      University of Arizona
      UNC Kenan-Flagler
      Rochester Simon