Making the Case for Sustainability: SISA x CSB Inaugural Case Competition

SISA + CSB Case Competition Group Photo
On November 18th, 2022, Stern’s Social Impact and Sustainability Association (SISA) partnered with the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) to host their inaugural Making the Case for Sustainability: SISA x CSB Case Competition.

This first-time event brought together 36 MBA students from the full-time, part-time and Tech MBA programs for a day of sustainability education and fast-paced pitch development. The day kicked off with opening remarks from SISA co-presidents, Karen Chu and London Clark, and SISA’s faculty sponsor, Tensie Whelan, Clinical Professor of Business and Society and Director of CSB.

Students participated in a workshop on CSB’s Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI™) led by Chisara Ehiemere, Senior Research Lead for ROSI. This framework was developed by CSB and is used by corporate leaders and investors to bridge the gap between sustainability strategies and financial performance.

Following the ROSI workshop, students teamed up to tackle the case prompt:  Approximately 40 million tons of plastic waste were generated in the U.S. in 2021, but only 5% to 6% — or about two million tons — was recycled. With companies facing consumer pressure to change their disposable plastic packaging, students were tasked with conceptualizing a sustainable packaging solution for a consumer good of their choice, using the ROSI Framework to determine how they would calculate the returns on the investment needed to convince management to explore the initiative. 

Each team was given 5 minutes to pitch their idea to an esteemed panel of judges; joining Chisara were Alessandro Carlucci, Chairman of the Board, Business for Social Responsibility and Former CEO of Natura, and Lauren Rodriguez, Senior Director of Partnerships at Closed Loop Partners. 

After lively deliberations, Julie Tzeng, Nicholas Imbriglia, Zoe Cantor, Reema Patel, and Deshani Gunathlake were awarded the winning team for their innovative submission, Dispense!

First year MBA and member of the winning team, Deshani Gunathlake shared, 

“The CSB x SISA case competition distilled the MBA experience into half a day — we built new relationships and applied CSB's industry-leading research to big problems. Designing dispense (our pitch) was a very fun and collaborative experience — we all worked together to ideate dispense and then divided and conquered the execution of the presentation. Even though our team had just met earlier that day, we each took a role in the project that naturally played to our strengths, and learned from each along the way. The competition offered a meaningful opportunity to work with Sternies from other MBA programs, like Langone. All of the final pitches were very creative and competition was stiff — but I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about various sustainable strategies and to see how CSB's ROSI methodology can be adapted by businesses to drive sustainable change.” 

Winning Team 
Dispense Team and Judges