Duquesne MBA team wins $8500 for solving malnutrition challenges

Derick Florian, Angela Petitto, Dr. Benito Manrique, Fan Ding, and Peter Kassouf

Pictured (from left to right): Derick Florian, Angela Petitto, Dr. Benito Manrique, Fan Ding, and Peter Kassouf

For the second year, a student team from the MBA Sustainability program advanced to the finals of theAspen Institute’s 2014 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition. Fan Ding, Derick Florian, Peter Kassouf and Angela Petitto have returned to the Bluff with a second-place award. The team competed against more than 1,000 other MBA students around the world.

The competition began in March with qualifying rounds at 25 leading graduate business schools. Students analyzed a strategic marketing case and posted their solutions within 72 hours. All students in the MBA Sustainability cohort participated as an extension of a problem-solving consulting course co-taught by Dr. Robert Sroufe, Murrin Chair of Global Competitiveness, and Diane Ramos, associate director of graduate programs and adjunct instructor of leadership and change management. The best solutions from the 25 participating schools were submitted to the Aspen Institute, and five teams advanced to the finals in New York City on April 4. For the second consecutive year, Duquesne students were among the finalists.

The competition focused on a new business case study produced by the Yale School of Management and Tecnológico de Monterrey: San Miguel: Expanding the Amaranth Market, a marketing case about a small Mexican factory processing ancient grain and operating with a social mission.

“Our team outlined a 10-year plan for addressing malnutrition while building San Miguel’s business that included producing amaranth for government and nongovernment nutritional assistance programs; exporting ingredient-branded amaranth flour for high protein, gluten-free and lactose-free products in growing U.S. specialty food categories; and micro-financing amaranth retail operations in Mexico,” said Ramos, explaining the work of students Peter Kassouf, Fan Ding, Derick Florian and Angela Petitto. The team won an $8,500 prize.

“Making it to New York and getting to know the owner of San Miguel on a personal level was truly priceless,” said Petitto, who reported that the physician who founded the social entrepreneurship is eager to engage Duquesne students as ongoing advisors.

“Seeing how seriously the financial community takes social issues was incredibly rewarding,” added Kassouf. “Applying business skills to make the world a better place is exactly the sort of thing I signed up for when I enrolled in the MBA Sustainability program.”

The team’s effort were supported by Duquesne internal round judges and coaches, including Bill O’Rourke, executive director of The Beard Institute; Dr. Ana Siqueira, assistant professor of management; Tom Nist, director of graduate programs; Dr. Jim Burnham, professor emeritus; and alumni in the corporate and nonprofit sectors Marian Mulholland, Jack Ouellette, Marie Fechik-Kirk and Greg Gorse.

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