Reflection from the Winners of CSB's 2024 Sustainable Business Pitch Competition

Sangitha Mohan ('24) & Vignesh Sayeesundar ('24)
Sangitha and Vignesh

Winner's of the 2024 Sustainable Business Pitch Competition, sponsored by Eddie Stern and Empire State Realty Trust, describe their strategy and takeaways from participating in the case competition. Congratulations Sangitha and Vignesh!



Having worked together before on group projects and past sustainability case competitions, Sangitha and I decided to team up to take on the Center for Sustainable Business’ 2024 Pitch Competition. Our inspiration to join the challenge came from the intriguing nature of this year’s prompt. How could the Empire State Realty Trust think about tracking and monetizing the indirect benefits of real estate sustainability initiatives? This was instantly exciting for us: we’d never seen a problem of this kind before – this particular prompt was clearly going to require a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and wasn’t going to be your typical case competition.


The first thing our team did was to dive deeper into the list of the 6 sustainability strategies we had been given. The strategies ranged from “Improving energy efficiency of building operations” to "Ensuring physical and transitional climate risk reduction and resiliency”. We spent several hours reading every resource we could get our hands on, regarding these areas. We also needed to study the impacts of initiatives within these strategies on three stakeholder groups: The asset owners, the property managers, and the tenants.


Lifecycle carbon assessment


Our research was guided and supported by several Expert Sessions coordinated by the Center for Sustainable Business. These sessions helped us streamline our thought process by giving us access to Sustainability and Real Estate experts. We learnt a great deal about their experiences and perspective.


As our thoughts finally began to take material shape, we decided to explore a total of eighteen practices (3 per strategy), and a broad overview of how indirect benefits to each stakeholder could be tracked and eventually monetized. But we were only just getting started!


As we progressed to subsequent rounds, our ideas needed to be examined deeper. We both put our (MBA + consultant) minds into fifth gear and began churning out monetization deep-dives. Here’s a look at some of the work we did!

Monetization deep dive



Our biggest “Aha!” moment came at one of our expert coaching sessions organized by the CSB, where our coach encouraged us to highlight one particular part of our work - we’d come up with one “moonshot” idea per strategy, that ESRT could work on in the long term to become a future leader. Our coach asked us to make those ideas an integral part of our presentation, and that’s exactly what we did! Here’s a look at one of our moonshots that we were particularly proud of:


Moonshot analysis


When it was time to showcase our final presentation to the esteemed panel of judges, there were definitely some nerves. But we made sure to let our passion and our work shine through, and everything clicked into place!


Winning team presenting their pitch

"Participating in the Sustainable Business Pitch Competition was easily one of our favorite experiences at Stern so far. Knowing that all the time and effort we put into this challenge will make our buildings greener gives us a true sense of pride that isn’t easy to replicate."