Thinking Global

Rollins MBA students are finding solutions to making coffee farming a sustainable economic activity—and winning major international competitions.

(Photo by Nespresso) (Photo by Nespresso) Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business has announced that the school’s team won the highly competitive Nespresso MBA Challenge which took place last week in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Thirty-two teams from 20 countries participated in the competition. Each submitted a proposal in response to the challenge: “How can Nespresso ensure that coffee farming is a sustainable economic activity for small-holder farmers in Colombia for the next 25 years?” Before reaching Switzerland, the Rollins team’s proposal made it through two rounds of academic and corporate judges.

Judging was based on a demonstrated understanding of the case and the situation presented, creativity, feasibility of implementation and logical qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Professor Keith Whittingham (center) with team members Morgan Filteau, Lamar Chesney, Taylor Dalton, and Scott Gould. (Photo by Nespresso) Professor Keith Whittingham (center) with team members Morgan Filteau, Lamar Chesney, Taylor Dalton, and Scott Gould. (Photo by Nespresso) The Rollins team was led by its advisor, Dr. Keith Whittingham, an Associate Professor at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, where he teaches elective courses and leads consulting projects in the Global Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship arenas. Team members included May 2013 alumni Lamar Chesney, Taylor Dalton, Morgan Filteau, and Scott Gould.

“Participating in this challenge has been a truly exciting opportunity for our students and for Rollins,” said Dr. Keith Whittingham. “The team worked really hard, leveraging the skills learned in the MBA program and our growing expertise in the areas of Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. The entire Rollins community is really proud of their work.”

“This competition has been a great way to apply the skills and concepts I’ve learned throughout my Crummer experience,” said Lamar Chesney. “Winning against teams from business schools such as Duke and the University of Michigan speaks volumes about both the quality of Rollins and the caliber of the students who go here.”

“This experience was so much more than an academic exercise. The team drew from every course in the MBA program; from Operations and Supply Chain to Marketing and Strategy,” said Taylor Dalton, who’s now working as a project manager at RVR Consulting in Winter Park, Florida.

In the final round of the competition, Rollins competed against MBA students from two schools: Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the University of Victoria, Gustavson School of Business, Victoria, Canada, both finishing as runners-up. 

“It is very rewarding to know that our solution can help improve the lives of coffee farmers,” said Morgan Filteau, who as a result has been inspired to look for more sustainability related careers.

Rollins students are already seeing the benefits of their success in the competition. “Even before winning, being a finalist in an international competition of this caliber undoubtedly strengthened my candidacy during job interviews” said Chesney. Rollins MBA team member Scott Gould said “the best part of the case was working with my teammates, whose valuable contributions made our success possible.”

Read more about the Nespresso MBA Challenge >>