Universities Put Business Cases Forward for Greener Economy

by Mallika Naguran

It has been often said that education is key in changing the world, and this is no different when it comes to the blue planet. Ensuring that learning begins in school, but does not just stop there, Daryl Neo and his peers from the Nanyang Business School, mostly Honours undergraduates in Singapore, have put together a unique programme in this year's Asian Business Case Competition.

Environmental sustainability was the chosen theme running through the four-day programme comprising round table discussions and business case competition, participated by nine international universities. The business case competition held for the second time was the brainchild of a student club within the Nanyang Technological University called Business Solutions - run by students for students.

"The topic of sustainability was chosen by the committee because we felt that it was a timely issue," said Daryl Neo, president of the club. "There has also been a much greater emphasis on sustainability issues at NTU, primarily how the business world needs to start looking at sustainability issues before it is too late."

The question of how communities can respond to the challenges of building an environmentally-sustainable economy was discussed during the roundtable session which saw industry leaders such as Hyflux and Tuas Power facilitating on specific areas such as energy, construction, accounting standards, finance, legal and government. Principal of the Monitor Group Andreas Schaffer provided the keynote address where he stressed that businesses have critical roles to play in reducing carbon footprints, chiefly through innovation and creating planet-friendly commercial options.

Following this, an intensive competition was held among the university participants to deliver their business cases, judged once again by industry representatives such as KPMG, Deloitte, Schroder & Co., Singapore Exchange and Microsoft.

This year's winning team came from Marshall Business School of the University of South California(USC), an institute that is no stranger to competitions in hosting one of the largest case competitions in North America. Champions were (from left) Noah Auerhahn, Sakhrani Shaun, Suzy Ryoo (Best Speaker Award) and Cochran Michael.

Schools taking part for the first time this year were: Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario; Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University; Warrington College of Business Administration, University of Auckland; and Maastricht University. Repeat participants were from: Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington; University of Florida; Thammasat University; University of Otago; and the Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University.

Daryl shared the motivations behind organizing this competition, which saw undergrads struggling to raise S$70,000 through corporate sponsorships alone. "As students, we do not have the clout or connections to influence direct change in the behaviours of companies. However, we still felt a strong need to do our part," he said."The best way we could think of, is to get the industry leaders who do have the clout or connections needed to meet each other, discuss ideas, and hopefully work together on green projects as a result of attending our symposium."

Daryl sets the stage for a greener world.The young leader added that judging from the success of this year's event, there is a good chance of repeating the same topic next year. Sponsors of the Asian Business Case Competition@Nanyang 2008 were SGX, Furama Group, ICPAS and Lee Foundation.

Photos courtesy of NTU.

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