Internal Case Competition

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Over the past week the cohort competed in an internal case competition, specifically the Aspen Institute Business & Society Case Competition. Teams of four students were given 72 hours to prepare a through analysis of the case to address the issues presented.  The competition gave us the chance to deal with a real-life business issue in a time sensitive situation.
After the initial report, teams presented to a panel of local judges on their recommendations for the company. The winning team of Ronna Pratt, Katherine Greer, Liis Kullerkann and Matthew Rodgers will represent Duquesne in the international competition. Congratulations to the winners and good luck in the next round!​

Company Visit: Mondelez

By Caitlin Merritt

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Getting ready to go inside the chocolate factory at Mondelez in Strasbourg.

Duquesne University’s trip to the Mondelez chocolate factory confirmed our desires to be corporate social responsibility and sustainability professionals. One of the major themes that came across was the firm’s commitment to employee mental and physical wellbeing.  When our guide stressed the importance of holding onto the railings during our tour of the factory,  some of us assumed they wanted to avoid liability.  As the tour progressed, we saw many signs to remind employees that safety is a daily priority.   
Mondelez uses CSR to increase employee engagement and to become a pioneer in sustainability within their industry.  Their employees have ownership and responsibility for corporate social responsibility initiatives.  Relying on their employees generates new and different ideas, but a surprising element of Mondelez’s CSR plan is that they do not follow a standard CSR approach. Instead, they created their own model and included categories for their industry and their specific business.  It was refreshing to see a company take bits and pieces of the various sustainability frameworks that we have learned and create a CSR charter that makes sense for them

ICN Business School

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The main city square in Nancy, where ICN Business School is located.   

Our courses at ICN Business School in Nancy brought a cross-cultural dimension to the material we have been studying so far. We had three lectures and a case study while we were at the school. The topics we discussed were management control for CSR, differences in ethics between the USA and France and cross-cultural communication.  Each topic was tied back to sustainability and the differences between how each culture views the role and importance of it for business. For example, in France, companies that are not publically traded (and have sales or assets of more 100 million Euros) are expected by law to communicate social and environmental results, although there is no penalty for failing to report.  It was interesting to learn about how sustainability is viewed around the world and what cultural differences impact these perceptions. Each country is influenced by past events that, at the surface, may not appear to relate directly to sustainability. For example, Americans are more willing to take risks than the French due to the colonial mindset of our founders.  Also, Americans tend to be action oriented whereas the French tend to spend more time discussing than doing.

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Caitlin discusses how ethics and sustainability are connected during class at ICN Business School.

Visit to European Parliament

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We had the amazing opportunity to spend a morning at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France. We were lucky enough to visit when 16-17 year old students from all of the Europe Union countries were there, and we were able to sit in on part of their session. Students had the chance to ask EU official’s questions about current events affecting their countries. The high school students were especially curious about the situation in the Ukraine, how the EU plans to increase participation in elections and if the EU plans to develop as a military power as well as an economic superpower.  When one student asked about what the EU was going to do help Greece, a panel member listed all the ways that the EU had already helped and suggested that Greece was to blame for their economic crisis and had challenges to address on their own.

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Outside the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

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Inside the European Union Parliament chamber.

Net Impact Conference 2014

By Sarah Jilbert

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Net Impact is a nation wide organization dedicated to creating positive social and environmental change in the school, workplace, and world. Every year they sponsor a conference where thousands of members from around the nation meet to discuss the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. 13 members of the sMBA cohort attended the 2014 conference in Minneapolis, MN where they, as well as the school, benefited greatly from their experiences.

These 13 individuals spent three days listening to numerous speakers, attending break out sessions, and interacting with students, young professionals, and employers. Students from other university’s were shocked that our sMBA students were completing an MBA in one year, and that their education focused on one of the main topics discussed throughout the conference, sustainability. Duquesne sMBA attendee, Caitlin Merritt, claimed she felt all of the sMBA attendees were way ahead of the game. They had already learned the sustainability concepts discussed and knew much more about the topics at hand compared to the other MBA students. Our students felt confident while speaking about what they had learned from the program and made Duquesne a school to talk about by the end of the weekend.

Our students took away a lot from the conference including confidence in how Duquesne’s program applies to real world application. Students also came home with many business cards and professional connections. For example, attendee Katherine Smith developed a mentor connection at the conference and still speaks to her today. The Net Impact Conference adds value to the sMBA education as well as shows Duquesne in a positive light.

Net Impact Update

By Sarah Jilbert

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Dan, Jamie, Peter and Nayan pose with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, after his talk about the National Debt in February.

Duquesne’s graduate Net Impacters are getting involved this semester! In February, Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald, came out to educate students about the impacts of the national debt. This event was part of our involvement in Net Impact’s Up to Us competition. In order to educate the campus further about the national debt we had TacoBoutDebt Day where hundreds of students were given free tacos if they signed a pledge saying they were aware and concerned about the national debt. We finished top 20 in the national competition!

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Jacob and Peter get students excited to Taco Bout Debt for Net Impact!

 

In late February we had a collaboration event with Carnegie Mellon’s Net Impact chapter to build connections and help each other improve our chapters. The restaurant we met at, The Porch, focused on local and fresh made food. I, along with the other 20 students who attended, thought it was some of the best pizza we’ve ever had!

In March, after getting back from our fabulous French study trip, we had Rockwell Hall Green Week where we brought green awareness to the business school. During the week we gave out donuts to students who took public transportation to school, changed the computers to print doubled sided, and handed out candy to those who had a reusable water bottle.

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Events coming up later this semester include an alumni job search panel, mock interviews, and environmental trivia. We are also creating a clean up team for Duquesne’s annual spring-clean up and helping with a recycling program for the NCAA. Programs for next year are also coming together as we are planning to become mentors for Pure Thirst, an organization dedicated to bringing water to communities with limited resources.

More Net Impact updates to come soon!