University of Southern California

USC Marshall Team in Top Five for Net Impact Case Competition
Six First Year Full-Time MBA Students Named Finalists
November 24, 2008 • by News at Marshall

Six first year full-time MBA students from the USC Marshall School of Business were named finalists at the Net Impact Case Competition at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia on Nov. 15.

The competition was part of the three-day 2008 Net Impact North America Conference, created by Net Impact, an international nonprofit whose mission is to make a positive impact on society by growing leaders who use business to improve the world. The conference attracted about 2,400 business school students, alumni and professionals whose intentions are to use their business skills to solve complex environmental and social challenges.

The Marshall team competed against students from 19 of the country's top business schools to create new strategies to facilitate job growth and economic development for the City of Philadelphia. Known as the “Philadelphia Green Economy Case Competition,” the participants were asked to develop strategies to grow “triple bottom line” businesses in Philadelphia, which traditionally have had difficulty in identifying sustainable, consistent sources of funding. The Yale School of Management and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan took first and second place respectively. The five finalists also included The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at University of California, San Diego.

To further develop with their strategy, USC MBA students Andrew Choi, Kelly Heintz, Jonathan Oakley, Drew Prickett, Mark Schwartzman and Mark Wilson consulted with Management and Organization professors Adlai Wertman and Paul Alder while researching and creating an innovative fundraising strategy. The students presented the final idea to a panel of three judges, including a representative from the Philadelphia Green Economy Task Force. The Task Force intends to consider and implement the strategies developed in the competition.

The Marshall team focused on the idea of using bonds to provide capital for triple bottom line businesses in the city. "Our idea was based on microfinance, which is growing in other parts of the world," said Heintz, who has a background in the nonprofit world. “The bonds would have some tax benefits and the organizations would be able to sell bonds to the general public rather than ask donors to write a check.” The idea turned out to be the competition’s most ambitious strategy according to the judges.

The Net Impact Case Competition is in its 16th year. Marshall students have had their own chapter of Net Impact for the last several years. This year, the group’s sustainability committee has created a campus-wide week-long competition that ended Monday, Nov. 24.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.