Creating opportunity
The Final Four: Meet the Finalists (and winner!) in the Chamber’s MBA Competition
Cordell Eddings | December 1, 2017

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with FedEx Freight and PPG, challenged the nation’s top business students to examine the public perception of business and recommend ways to reinforce the message that business plays a crucial role in our society. More than 100 teams from 42 business schools entered the grueling competition.

And then there were four.

The finalists: teams from The George Washington University School of Business, the Carey Business School at John Hopkins University, Stanford University Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley who will present their solutions on December 1 at a live MBA Case Competition in Washington, D.C. The winning team was selected by an A-list panel of judges, an audience of business leaders, innovators and thought leaders, including C-suite executives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce leadership and academics.

UPDATE: We have a Winner!  The John Hopkins Carey Business School team, led by Chirag Potdar, Ryan Douglas, Nariman Ziaee and Marcus Tan took home the top prize of $12,000.

The challenge: Examine the public’s perception of business and recommend ways to reinforce the message that business plays a crucial role in our society.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Douglass, Carey MBA candidate who hails from Miami, FL. “There were so many sleepless nights we spent researching and putting our presentation together while also trying to get our schoolwork done. Just being here, it felt like we’d won already. But taking home the top prize is really validating.”

Students from the George Washington University School of Business, led by Adithi Amarnath, Jane Azzinaro, David Brunelli, Jessica Goodman and Alyssa Passarelli gave them a strong fight, and finished in second place, winning $7,500 in the process.

“The experience was amazing and is going to stay with us for the rest of our lives,” said Azzinaro, a George Washington University MBA candidate from East Brunswich, New Jersey. “A tangible outcome to all the late nights and all the practice is really invigorating.

Related: HOW ONE SMALL BUSINESS IS TRANSFORMING SCHOOLS INTO LEAN EDUCATING MACHINES

Teams from the Stanford School of Business and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business were strong runners-ups, with both teams leaving with $2,500

We caught up with each team’s captain before the event to get a peek at their strategies, goals, and inspirations.  Read on to learn more.  

–Ryan Douglass, Captain of the Carey Business School at John Hopkins University Team

Q: What makes you a good team?

A: We are a good team because we are balanced by multiple members from drastically different cultures, enabling a lot of interesting insight.

Q: What’s your secret sauce?

A: Our team’s ability to work cohesively is key.

Q: What makes your Business school special?

A: John Hopkins Carey Business school’s motto is to encourage business with humanity in mind. We see this as a novel concept that should have wider application in business today.

Q: What are your plan’s for the completion?

A: To present our slides in a confident, but personable manner. We think this point is crucial to the success of any team.

Q: What role do you think business can play in being a force for good?

A: Business is a strong influence on society, thus their behavior is crucial from a perception standpoint. By focusing their efforts on the positive we think that there can be a great positive impact.

 

–Adithi Amarnath, Captain of the George Washington University team

Q: What makes you a good team?

A: We were all equally committed to doing well and really respect each other’s abilities. We had a good time with the process by striking a balance between working hard and having fun.

Q: What’s your secret sauce?

A: Will Ferrell bloopers.

Q: What makes your Business school special?

A: The collaborative culture and being in the heart of D.C.

Q: What are your plan’s for the completion?

A: It’s been a great experience so far. We plan to represent GW well and hope to bring home the win!

Q: What role do you think business can play in being a force for good?

A: Business is at the cutting edge of progress and change.

 

–Yaya Khoja, Captain of the Stanford University team

Q: What makes you a good team?

A: We have diverse backgrounds and expertise that allowed us to be a well-rounded team. We also had open communication that allowed us to constructively challenge each other at times, and build on top of one another’s ideas at other moments.

Q: What’s your secret sauce?

A: We were all committed to the competition and we dedicated as much time as we possibly could, and kept pushing until the last minute

Q: What makes your Business school special?

A: The way it teaches us to be leaders with high empathy and emotional intelligence. This enables us to bring out the best in others and step into difficult conversations confidently and effectively.

Q: What are your plan’s for the completion?

A: We gave it our best so far, and we’ll continue doing that till the end. Other than that, we plan to celebrate the fact that we qualified, and that we got to know each other over this experience.

Q: What role do you think business can play in being a force for good?

A: This competition helped us to further appreciate the important role that business leaders play in being a force for good in the way they treat their customers, employees, and community. It became clear to us that in order for a business to be a force for good, its leaders need to embrace that mantra as a value rather than a mere slogan. In addition, it requires a collective effort from the business community to actually be effective.

 

–Jaime Zepeda, Captain of the UC Berkeley Team

Q: What makes you a good team?

A:  We bring a passion for CSR and a belief that business can be a true change-maker for society. We always focused on how can we create win-win situations where the American people benefit from a thriving business community, and businesses become financially sustainable and growing enterprises.

Q: What’s your secret sauce?

A: We build on each other’s ideas and offer constructive feedback. No ego. We just want to create the best possible proposal.

Q: What makes your business school special?

A: We strongly believe in our Defining Principles, which are in the DNA of everything Haas does. This creates a community of extremely talented, yet very empathetic, leaders and innovators to learn from and connect with.

Q: What are your plan’s for the competition?

A: Win it!

Q: What role do you think business can play in being a force for good?

A: Businesses build jobs, create opportunity, offer innovations, and bring value to consumers, employees, and communities. This is possible with every single business. We hope our proposal helps businesses bring that vision to life.