BECC 2019
CESR Business Ethics Case Competition 2019

About the Competition

CESR developed the Business Ethics Case Competition in order to challenge undergraduate students to apply their values and skills learned in Leeds classes to difficult real-world cases. The ethical dilemmas explored in the competition range from topics in energy production to company supply chains, each dealing with a complex web of stakeholder needs and interests.

The CESR Business Ethics Case Competition is an interactive way to deepen students’ understanding of the importance of creating ethical as well as profitable business cultures. Teams are provided with a business case leading up to the competition which they have to analyze, create recommendations for, and present to a panel of judges. 

The competition is sponsored by Tim Borden, a pioneering force in the development of ethical issues in corporate governance, a field that now includes corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship and sustainability. 

This competition is closely related to the Diversity Ethics Case Competition, taking place in February and organized by the Office of Diversity of Affairs and CESR.

Competition Format

- Teams consist of four to six undergraduate students, combining to the extent possible first- and second- year contestants with juniors and seniors to allow younger students to work with more experienced students in understanding how to compete in a business ethics case competition.

- Contestants sign up in pairs of two, or groups of four, with the understanding that BECC managers may assign additional participants in order to achieve the desired mix of academic years represented within each team.

30 minutes total alotted for each presentation:

·   Presentations no longer than 15 minutes
·   10 mins judges Q/A
·   5 mins transition

Judges utilize the following scoring criteria in evaluating teams throughout the competition

– Delivery

– Depth and breadth of analysis of the ethical issues

– Persuasiveness

– Creativity

– Recommendations that are both ethical and practical in a business context

– Responses to questions

How it works

The competition consists of a preliminary round and a final round. Teams in the first round are split into flights with the top 2-3 teams from each flight continuing on to the final round. Each round has separate cases on a related topic.

In the preliminary round, teams are given 36-46 hours to prepare their presentation after receiving the case and present to a panel of faculty judges. The final round has a longer prep time of one week and is judged by a panel of executive judges (see below for past judges).

2019 Topic

In the 2019 BECC preliminary round, teams acted as fictional social enterprises tasked with solving the St. Louis food desert crisis. After pitching their ideas to solve the crisis, students continued to the final round of competition where they responded to an additional funding offer and proposed solutions for further growth of the enterprise. 

2018 Topic

The case for the 2018 BECC preliminary round focused on differing religions within the workplace. Students analyzed the culture clash within one investment group and weighed the factors that contributed to creating a work environment catered to the beliefs and comfort of all employees.

In the final round, students tackled the issue of the growing waistline of the average American in regards to airline pricing models. Teams created recommendations for how the airline industry should compensate for the added fuel costs of passengers.

2017 Topic

The case challenge for the 2017 BECC final round was to analyze the production practices and ethical and financial implications of a palm oil plantation and refinery in Indonesia, considering social and environmental issues including massive-scale deforestation, labor rights violations, and violation of indigenous people.

2016 Topic 

The topic of the 2016 BECC preliminary round was Uber Technologies Inc. focusing on ethics issues in passenger safety, driver pay, and the competitive environment of the taxi/transportation industry.

The final round topic put teams in the position of a consulting agency advising a fictitious natural grocer on how they source their seafood, namely fish. Teams assessed the Thai fishing industry and were charged to balance supply chain & financial implications with the grocer's ethical obligations to stakeholders (environment, laborers, fishing industry as a whole, customers, shareholders, etc.).

For a recap on the 2016 competition and winners, click here.

Past Judges

Bernee StromBernee Strom, Vice Chair
Entrepreneur & Corporate Director
Senior Advisor, Cascadia Capital

Bernee Strom has more than 25 years’ experience in media and technology businesses. Bernee is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or run a number of companies, including Gemstar International,, WebTuner Corp., Infospace, Inc., and USA Digital Radio (currently HD Radio). She was Executive Chairman of Ensequence, which delivers interactive television advertising solutions. 

An experienced board member, she is a current or former member of the board of directors of Benchmark Electronics, Hughes Electronics/DirecTV, Polaroid Corporation, and Software Publishing Corp., as well as other public and private companies. She serves as a Trustee of the National Public Radio (NPR) Foundation.

Bernee was recently awarded a "Lead Where you Land Award" from the Center for Women and Democracy and the Governor or the State of Washington. She was named one of the "100 Most Inspiring Alumni" of the Anderson School of UCLA. She received a Luminary Award from the Committee of 200, and was named a “Leading Women Entrepreneur of the World”, where she also received the Technology Award from IBM. The Forum of Women Entrepreneurs also named her “Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Brian LichtenheldBrian Lichtenheld

Advisor, BSW Wealth Partners

Brian is an Associate Advisor and Impact Specialist at BSW Wealth Partners.  As an Associate Advisor, Brian strives to provide warm, cheerful service to BSW client families, and is steadfast in his commitment to meticulous research and analysis on their behalf.  In addition to advising, Brian is a strong proponent of the firm’s impact efforts, both holistically, as well as within the impact investing realm.  He is an enthusiastic advocate of the firm’s B-Corporation certification and takes great joy in representing BSW, and BSW clients, among key impact constituencies.

Prior to joining BSW, Brian worked for nearly a decade at an investment management and wealth advisory services firm in Boulder, while spending many nights and weekends leading the Corporate Social Responsibility efforts for a local consumer packaged goods company.

Away from BSW, Brian balances his time between volunteering, rock climbing, reading, championing conscious consumerism & impact investing, and spending meaningful time with family and friends.


Lorna Christoff, CESRLorna Christoff
CESR Instructor

Lorna teaches and helped develop the freshman introductory course (BCOR 1015 World of Business) and  teaches CESR 4000 Leadership Challenges: Exercises in Moral Courage (an upper-division elective) and the onboarding/introductory Day 0 class for incoming students of the Business Minor, which she developed. Lorna’s teaching repertoire also includes the junior-level corporate social responsibility course, BCOR 3010 Business Applications of Social Responsibility. Lorna holds a law degree with familiarity in tax law and has worked in residential mortgages, mutual and hedge funds and consumer banking.

Beth Cross
Former CESR Instructor







Don Oest, CESRDon Oest
CESR Instructor

Don teaches Leeds' BASE class and has taught Introduction to Business (BCOR 1010) and Corporate Applications Of Social Responsibility (BCOR 3010) for CESR at Leeds. Don has also taught an Excel Lab (BADM 2010), taught in the Business Residential Academic Program (RAP) since Fall 2011 and has been a guest lecturer in several Leeds Business School management courses. Don recently retired from IBM with over 36 1/2 years of business experience in various management, operational and leadership positions. 

Rick Reed, CESRRick Reed
CESR Instructor

Rick teaches the Junior-level BCOR 3010 Business Applications of Social Responsibility as well as the introductory business course, BCOR 1015 The World of Business. Rick earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon.  In 2011 Rick earned his MBA from the Leeds School of Business, graduating with Honors, during which time he was introduced to the joys of teaching.  After a brief stint in industry, Rick returned full time to teach within CESR.


Mark Retzloff, CESRMark Retzloff
Co-Founder, Horizon Organic Dairy

Mark is a pioneer in the organic and natural foods industry with a 40-year career starting and managing successful companies. He co-founded Aurora Organic Dairy in 2003 as President and Chief Organic Officer, leading the company’s organic industry and sustainability initiatives, and now serves as Chairman of the Board.

He co-founded Eden Foods and Rainbow Grocery, and he was a founder, CEO and Chairman of Alfalfa’s Market, a regional chain of natural foods stores that merged with Wild Oats Markets in 1996, eventually being acquired by Whole Foods Market. Mark became the Chairman of the Organic Alliance in 1990, and was instrumental in lobbying Congress for a federal standard for organic agricultural production, which resulted in the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act.

Birdie Reznicek, CESRBirdie Reznicek
CESR Instructor

Birdie teaches CESR 4005 Business Solutions for the Developing World, an experiential learning course that helps students apply their business skills to the growing field of social innovation in the service of poverty alleviation. She partners with social entrepreneurs around the world, guiding pro bono consulting projects that student teams complete to help further the mission of social impact organizations. Birdie also teaches BCOR 3010 Business Applications of Social Responsibility, a junior-level required course that challenges students to think critically about business conduct from a multidisciplinary perspective. 

Birdie worked in the field of social entrepreneurship as the Enterprise Director for Golden Gate Community Inc., a community development non-profit within the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund’s portfolio of social enterprises.  Birdie‘s for-profit experience includes the executive development program at MetLife and the Financial & Health Services Group at Booz Allen Hamilton. 

Trish ThomasTrish Thomas
Partner & CEO at TEEM Collective

Trish is a marketing executive with management experience spanning a wide range of industries and an expert on fast-track business growth. Over the past 20 years, she has advised organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies with a track record of boosting performance and profitability rapidly. At TEEM Collective, she and her partners are challenging the status quo in advertising and reinventing the way teams work together to deliver great creative. She is a frequent lecturer on leadership, team building, strategy, branding and marketing. A member of the Mensa Society, Trish serves on the Board of Friends & Alumni of the Leeds School of Business and the Board of Colorado Asphalt Services, and is a prior Board Chair for the Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau.