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.


Internal Aspen Case Competition


Two weekends ago our cohort competed in an internal case competition, specifically the Aspen Business & Society International MBA Case Competition.  Each group of four had 72-hours to complete a thorough analysis of the case in order to develop a implementation plan to address the problems outlined in this years case.  The competition allowed us to step into a real-life, time-sensitive situation that demanded an integrative decision, similar to the real-world situation we will be faced in the business world.

Our cohort, in addition to more than 1,000 students at 25 business schools tackled this year’s brand new case study, authored by the Yale School of Management, requiring innovative thinking at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive social and environmental impact.

Just last Friday, local judges listened to each presentation and examined each paper to determine an internal winner.  We are very proud of the internal winners: Fan Ding, Derick Florian, Peter Kassouf, and Angela Petitto! Additionally, we would like to congratulate all eight student teams for creating extremely competitive deliverables in such a short-period of time!


Dr. Sroufe Aspen Faculty Pioneer Awards Finalist

Our professor, Dr. Robert Sroufe, was recognized in New York City as a 2013 Aspen Faculty Pioneer Award finalist!  Other finalists include, David A. Besanko, Alvin J. Huss Distinguished Professor of Management and Strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; and Christopher Marquis, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, Harvard University.

The Faculty Pioneers winners were Mauro F. Guillén, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business who studies management practices in various countries; and Nicola M. Pless, professor at ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University in Barcelona who researches “Responsible Leadership.”

It is inspiring to see Dr. Sroufe recognized with leaders from top business schools in the world.  We have the honor to work with Dr. Sroufe each week in our Sustainability Theories and Models for Innovation course in the MBA Sustainability program, and we our whole cohort is honored to work with him.

One classmate Angela put it perfectly when we were discussing Dr. Sroufe’s recognition, she said” I am not surprised that Dr.Sroufe was selected among so many great applicants. He is a very motivated man and his passion for sustainability is very inspiring to me as a student. He has opened so many doors for me on the possibilities of sustainable practices, and is enthusiastic about their importance. He has been a true inspiration and is a great role model for what we need in order to achieve a sustainable future.”

In New York, Dr. Sroufe was not only recognized as a finalist, but he also spoke at the two-day program hosted by the Aspen Institute.  He introduced the sustainability curriculum involved with our program; focusing on the Sustainable Theories and Models for Innovation class that has inspired Angela and the rest of our cohort this semester.

For more on Dr. Sroufe and the Faculty Pioneer Award recipients: http://www.aspeninstitute.org/vi/policy-work/business-society/faculty-pioneer-awards