Business team takes top prize at Davos

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Krista Boehnert

MBA students claim top prize at Corporate Knights’ “Business for a Better World” Case Study Competition

It’s a proposition few MBA students would pass up: an opportunity to compete on the world stage—at the World Economic Forum no less—in a case competition that focuses on business sustainability practices. The best part? The Corporate Knights’ “Business for a Better World” case study competition allowed contestants to present business solutions to pharmaceutical heavy-hitter Novartis. Teams focused on environmental recommendations, as well as social and governance initiatives that, when implemented, would help improve Novartis’s standing on the Corporate Knights Global 100 ranking.

UVic’s MBA team, comprised of Gill Graduate School students Jesal Shah, Andrew Spence, Susan Laidlaw and Karin Feldkamp, have dedicated the last three months of their lives to preparing for their winning moment at the prestigious competition held in Davos, Switzerland. Advancing from three intensive rounds of competition—which slowly whittled down 25 teams from universities around the world to just three finalists—the quartet competed for a $6,000 top prize.

In the lead up to their final presentations in Davos, the group underwent rigorous training, including a mock presentation and Q&A session with local pharmaceutical veterans Noel Hall, co-founder and president, Aspreva Pharmaceuticals; and Martin Thornton, director and head of human resources (North America), Vifor Pharma, all of whom were in the audience to provide counsel and advice for the students. The practice session with Hall and Thornton was the perfect send-off for the team, helping them refine their presentation for the Davos audience, which included Eric Cornut, the Chief of Ethics and Compliance and Policy Officer for Novartis.

“The presentation itself went by in a flash,” Jesal Shah said in a blog post about his experience. “It was exciting to present our recommendations to someone from Novartis and to hear his feedback on our proposal. The question-and-answer session was nerve-racking but it was clear that our practice paid off. Thanks to all our instructors, colleagues, friends and spouses who peppered us with challenging questions during our lead up to Davos.”


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Keywords: drugs, business, international, student life, award

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