Laurier MBA team wins Aspen competition

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Wilfrid Laurier University’s students have brought home first place at the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society International Master of Business and Administration Case Competition.

The competition, which began with an on-campus round and included five Laurier teams, concluded on April 17 when the top five overall teams travelled to New York City to present before a distinguished panel of industry professionals.

Laurier’s team, which consisted of MBA students Kate Applin, Albert Tam, Tristan Pilcher and Daniel Hebeisen, was one of two Canadian schools to participate this year.

This marks the school’s third win, following first-place placement in 2011 and 2014.

“This is a prestigious competition, and now that Laurier’s won it three years, I would imagine that’s an aspirational thing for undergraduates who are in business and economics,” said Ian Muller, president and chief executive officer of the Graduate Students’ Association.

“They can see that if they want to continue on and do an MBA at some time that Laurier is a great place to do that.”

The competition’s emphasis on sustainability in business was an ideal match for coach Barry Colbert, an associate professor and director at Laurier’s P&G Centre for Business & Sustainability.

Colbert coached the team along with former Aspen champion Priyanka Lloyd.

“I think it’s just external validation of the approach that we take. It’s that somebody recognizes that we have good students at Laurier, and it’s not just what they learn in the sustainability class, it’s the full education they’re getting,” said Colbert.

“It’s broad and deep thinking, as well as critical thinking, what we try to teach, so to me I think it’s satisfying that people are seeing what we’re doing and it resonates with them.”

The team devotes their success to keeping with Laurier’s strong emphasis on co-curricular involvement and supplemental learning, which the members recognized during the competition.

“I came into my MBA not from a business background at all, so I kind of dove in and took on anything I could, and I think it’s made a huge impact on my experience in the MBA,” said team member Applin.

“This competition in particular taught what a fantastic team can look like, how to leverage people’s strengths, and what extreme hard work beyond the classroom looks like. It kind of pushes you to another level when you’re proving yourself on a world stage rather than just the classroom.”

The opportunity for feedback and evaluation beyond the realm of academics was not lost on participants.

Members valued the ability to find something out of the classroom to benefit their degrees.

“This was probably the highlight of my MBA. The importance of getting out of the classroom I can’t stress enough,” said team member Tam.

“At case competitions, you’re being evaluated from an academic lens, from an industry lens, from a sustainability lens, specific to the Aspen Case Competition, so you get an evaluation that is really holistic and really gives different perspectives on your body of work.”

 

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