Smeal MBAs place first in Fifth Annual Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition

December 14, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five MBA students from the Penn State Smeal College of Business teamed up to place first in the Fifth Annual Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition.

Second-year students Amanda Flecha, Ryan Roach, Sophia Schuster, Anoop Sharma and Sarah “Harvey” Weidman claimed the top prize of $10,000.

A team from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University won the second-place prize of $5,000 and a team from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota took home the third-place prize of $2,500. Teams from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona were also finalists.

The case this year focused on CNote, a new, award-winning company that creates financial products embedded with impact. The case invited students to explore the quickly growing impact investing and social finance space.

CNote, founded in 2016 by two female entrepreneurs with deep backgrounds in finance, provides sound returns while investing in underserved communities across America. CNote has chosen to focus on non-stock financial vehicles with strong returns and social impact. Its first product is positioned as an alternative to traditional savings options.

More than 30 teams submitted anonymous presentations that were reviewed by Smeal faculty, sustainability experts and Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board members. Five finalists were selected from that group.

The five finalists gave 30-minute presentations to a panel of four judges and then answered questions for 15 minutes. The judges included:

  • Yuliya Tarasava, chief operating officer and co-founder of CNote
  • Carl Pfleger, vice president, Global Operations, PepsiCo International, retired
  • Beth Lispon, treasurer, Opportunity Finance Network
  • Fran Lutz, chief financial officer, Opportunity Finance Network, retired

“In the five-year history of this competition, we have engaged more than 800 MBA students. This was our first case to focus on the quickly growing field of impact investing,” said Erik Foley, Smeal’s director of sustainability.

“The fact that a team of Smeal second-year MBAs emerged victorious reinforces the college’s efforts to include impactful sustainability information in our curriculum.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 14, 2018