Published: Nov. 19, 2019

Natural and organics has developed into a robust area of study at Leeds School of Business, which draws upon its opportune location at the epicenter of the industry in Boulder, CO. MBA students seeking careers in sustainable supply chain management or marketing, for example, enjoy an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural products ecosystem. As a result, coursework and co-curricular offerings at Leeds have been met with high student demand.  

Case in point: The first-ever Natural and Organic Case Competition attracted 38 Leeds and CU graduate students to go head-to-head on social impact challenges in the natural products industry.

“We were blown away by the strong student interest the competition attracted! We nearly doubled our goal for student participation, and teams included full-time and evening Leeds MBAs, as well as students from the Master of Environment program,” says Julie Waggoner, associate director of the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility (CESR) at Leeds.

Charlotte’s Web and Naturally Boulder partnered with Leeds to present this first-ever competition, one of many co-curricular opportunities designed for the new MBA Pathways program in natural and organics. Executive judges included Rochelle Kwiatkowski, western region key account manager for Charlotte’s Web; Catherine Walsh, director of brand development at Moxie Sozo and co-VP of Naturally Boulder’s board of directors; and Steve Savage, founder and CEO of 1908 Brands.

In the final round, eight student teams tackled a case focused on the sustainability, social responsibility and ethical challenges of the palm oil industry in Southeast Asia, and how the IPO process and mandatory increases in transparency impact corporations.

The winning team won $7,500 for its excellent collaboration and group dynamics, the most in-depth financial analysis, and thorough consideration of a realistic timeline. Team members include:

  • Kallie Beebe (MBA’21)

  • Michaela Monk (MBA’21)

  • Andrew Hossley, (MBA’20)

  • Donna Merten, (MEnv’20)

Additional co-curricular offerings in the field include the Farm-to-Market Supply Chain Management Career Trek, the Natural and Organic Bootcamp, exclusive natural and organics career networking events, the Expo West Career Trek, the Net Impact Case Competition, and Organics + Naturals, a student club.