It was a busy fall for the UO Net Impact graduate student chapter—learning, networking, and winning case competitions—and spring looks to be even brighter.
The organization, which brings together students and professionals interested in advancing social and environmental causes through business, is now preparing for even more wins on the national stage. UO Net Impact Grad is sending teams to Philadelphia, Boulder, and Austin for case competitions and pitches.
“Case competitions are a perfect way to apply the business skills we’re learning in the classroom,” said Rachel Cohen, a 2020 MBA candidate with a focus in sustainable business practices and president of the UO Net Impact Grad Chapter. “Our members have been seeing more and more case competitions that are focused on sustainability. The Oregon MBA is consistently rated a top ‘green’ MBA and we’re excited to represent UO on the national level.”
This month, two MBA teams are off to Boulder, Colorado, representing the University of Oregon Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Net Impact Case Competition. After winning advancement in October, MBA candidates Rebecca Green, Ben Wiltsie, John Broadway, and Gloria Foxman will now present their ideas to judges at University of Colorado at Boulder, as will the team made up of Lauren DiRe, Meredith Ledbetter, Elle Mattson, and Ashton Roberts.
In March, Cohen, Roberts, fellow MBA candidate Mike Lee, and alumnus Stephen Kahler, MBA ’19, will travel to South by Southwest—a media conference and festival that serves as a global hub for innovation. There, they will participate in a clean energy accelerator and national competition as they pitch their business idea to advance adoption of electric vehicles to representatives from Shell. The team has been preparing since they were accepted into the exclusive accelerator three months ago.
In April, MBA candidates Jason Foldi, Dinesh Kirpalani, Ledbetter, Lee, and Mattson will travel to Philadelphia to pitch a startup to investors as part of the invitation-only MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT). Impact investing—or investing with the goal of generating both positive social or environmental benefit as well as financial returns—is a growing field and the Lundquist College is leading the charge with programming and clubs dedicated to its advancement. The UO Net Impact Grad team will vie for up to $50,000 in investment when it presents its recommendations to the judging committee of industry leaders.
UO received its first invitation to participate in MIINT, hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in 2018, explained Cohen. Nine Oregon MBA candidates are auditing the training program in preparation for next year’s team, she added.
UO Net Impact Grad is also creating value right here in Oregon. The group hosted an internal case competition to help Tillamook Creamery define its brand purpose for millennial and Gen Z consumers. For the latter, it leveraged voices from its sister group, Net Impact Undergraduate.
Finally, Net Impact Grad member Mitch Rosen began a yearlong fellowship in September to help launch his plant-based food concept. As part of the Net Impact Food Fellowship, Rosen is charged with designing and implementing a food-related “action project” on campus.
“Graduate school life can get really busy, so Net Impact has created a space where members can interact to share ideas, form teams, and support each other as we enter these competitions,” Cohen said.
—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications