Laurier comes first at international MBA competition

They certainly weren’t from the most well-known school there, but last month four Laurier Masters of Business Adminstration (MBA) students took home first place at the Aspen Institute’s International MBA Case Competition.

Competing in New York City, the Laurier team, which consisted of MBA students Priyanka Sundaram, James Munro, Robert Colorafi and Adam Melnik, were awarded the first place prize of $20,000 for their recommendation for a case. Their case involved a Chinese company attempting to expand in the United States and they beat out some pretty big names along the way.

Teams from prestigious schools such as Baylor University and Villanova University in the U.S., the ESADE Business School in Spain and the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración in Venezuela were the four finalists who finished behind the Laurier team. The only other Canadian entry came from York University.

“It’s certainly a very high profile competition, there’s a lot of really strong schools there,” said Colorafi. “Even being able to participate was kind of an honour but then beating all these other really strong MBA programs was just great.”

This was the second year the competition has been sponsored by the Aspen Institute and according to Barry Colbert, director of the CMA Centre for Business & Sustainability at Laurier’s School of Business & Economics and faculty advisor to the Laurier teams, it is one of the more prestigious events of its kind.

“[The Aspen Institute’s] ambition is to make it the premiere business competition for business and society issues,” he said. “So that’s why they made the prize so high. I don’t know many other competitions where there’s that kind of prize money.”

In order to qualify for the competition’s final round in New York City, the teams went through three rounds. The first stage was an on campus competition, which would determine Laurier’s entry into a pool of teams from 25 schools. Of those 25 schools, five teams made it through to the finals and of those final five, one winner was chosen.

According to Colbert winning a competition of this magnitude is a great way to not only promote Laurier’s MBA program, but let the business world know what its focus is.

“It signals that we’re serious when it comes to business and sustainability issues,” he said. “And by that I don’t just mean business as usual with a little bit of ‘greening’ the business or donations to charities, but more in the sense of looking at global sustainability issues as the new strategic context for business.”

“I think it shows, not only that Laurier has one of the most competitive programs in Canada, but also that we have some very bright, new ideas being produced here,” added Colorafi.

In addition to promoting the school’s name, according to Colorafi that the students got a great deal out of the experience, beyond the $5,000 they each got to take home.

“Even before we made beyond the round at Laurier, it was an amazing experience,” he said. “It was such a real-world, in-depth case with articles and sub-articles, and documents and it was just an amazing case to analyze…. It was really nice to see a real company, a real case because usually the cases are bubbles. And as we moved on it was amazing to just meet all these people from around the world.”