Last week I had the great pleasure of being invited to be one of the judges for the Fourth Annual Emerging Markets Case Competition organized by GBSN member school the R.H.Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. The event is funded by CIBER (the Center for International Business Education and Research, a U.S. government program).
Students came from top U.S. business schools for an intensive performance. Handed a real-life case study of intractable complexity at 5 pm on Friday, the ten teams had to present to the jury Saturday morning. Need I say that they didn’t sleep much that night?
The case revolved around a very original social enterprise located in a Kenyan slum, which combines free computer and technology training with apprenticeships and job placement, as well as providing services to client companies. “Learning by teaching”, whereby apprentices teach basic tracks, is a hallmark of the organization. The issue confronting the competing MBA teams was how best to manage devolution from the two retiring expatriate founders to yet-to-be-identified local leaders, and how to bolster financial sustainability.
I was thrilled by the students’ highly polished performances, especially considering how little time they were given to research the case materials. They were rated on identifying critical issues, adducing pertinent evidence, making realistic recommendations, as well as on the quality of their presentations. They did amazingly well on all scores.
The team from Indiana’s Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame won the contest. Virginia’s George Mason University’s School of Business team won second prize.
My congratulations to the students. They demonstrated with panache how good business skills can help unravel some of the most difficult global development problems.
Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder and Board Member of the Global Business School Network.