Published: March 14, 2014

This year's Net Impact Case Competition (NIC Competition), sponsored by Johns Manville and run by CU Leeds MBA students, was a definite success. With the finals weekend held on February 21 - 22, 80 MBA students travelled from all over the US and Canada to Boulder, where events were held at both the Leeds School of Business and at the Hotel Boulderado. Beginning with a welcome reception, participants enjoyed a Q&A session with Johns Manville representatives before having to submit their final case solutions. The competition consisted of two rounds, with the first narrowing down the teams to the top five who would present in the championship round.  
"It is exciting to have such knowledgeable judges and high-caliber MBA students interacting with the goal of solving a company’s real-world sustainability challenge,” said Nicole Reed, NIC 2014 Co-Director and CU Leeds MBA Candidate 2014. 

The NIC Competition is the premier case competition built around businesses facing sustainability challenges while succeeding financially. The competition attracts top rated business schools and future industry leaders. The Leeds Faculty Sponsor is CESR’s own Dave Payne, instructor of the MBA class Socially Responsible Enterprise. Dave is also faculty advisor for the Net Impact Club on the CU campus, a network of MBAs, graduate students and professionals dedicated to mobilizing a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in their workplaces and the world. 

Dave comments, “The NIC is a superb way to ground the theory of sustainability in the present day real world problems of our partner companies. Everyone involved from judges to corporate partners is consistently impressed with the innovativeness and practicality of the solutions brought to bear on the case challenges we face every year.” 

In a case written by two CU Leeds MBA students, Allison Freedman and David Busch, the student participants were asked to consider whether extreme low-temperature insulation technology, KryptoWrap, has the potential to make an impact and generate profit in the growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and assess the benefits in the following areas: financial, environmental, and social. 

"Inside the presentation rooms competitors gave their all while showcasing original, high-quality case solutions but, outside of the competition the teams, volunteers, and judges embraced a fun and festive atmosphere," observed Laura Williams, NIC 2014 Assistant Director, NIC 2015 Co-Director and CU Leeds MBA Candidate 2015. 

All of the teams' presentations were impressive, but the 2014 winning teams were:

1st Place: University of Georgia ($10,000 prize money)
2nd Place: University of Notre Dame ($5,000 prize money)
3rd Place: Purdue University ($2,500 prize money)

“The NIC also served as a great platform for learning about how sustainability is thought about and applied in business.  I think that everyone who participated in the event — from judges to sponsors to contestants -- learned something new about how best to develop and implement sustainable solutions,” remarked Charley Weschler, MBA Candidate 2015, Co-Director of NIC 2015.

CESR Executive Director, Mark Meaney, was the keynote speaker at the lunch on Saturday, where the winning teams were announced and some inspirational words were delivered by Leeds School of Business Dean David Ikenberry and Johns Manville CEO, Mary Rhinehart. 

"The participants this year were extremely engaged in the competition and brought their best in terms of creativity to the possible solutions. The judges, participants and volunteers from CU Leeds, were all impressed with the caliber of the final solutions and how they addressed sustainability. We hope the Leeds NIC Competition only continues to improve each year as awareness around sustainable business solutions increases,” said Laura Harvey, NIC 2014 Co-Director and CU Leeds MBA Candidate 2014.

CH2M Hill Foundation has generously agreed to sponsor the 2014-2015 Leeds NIC with a $25k gift. The NIC organizers are excited to work with Ellen Sandberg, VP of Community Investment and Executive Director of the CH2M Hill Foundation, as well as Leeds Sustainability Council member Matthew Wilson, North American Project Development Director for Urban Programs.