MBA students’ place second in international competition

Jennie Kushner

Four master’s of business administration students from the Manderson Graduate School of Business developed a sustainable energy business plan that finished in second place at an intercollegiate competition.

The team beat Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale but fell short to the University of Notre Dame in the international competition held at the University of Colorado in February.

People didn’t expect much from the national championship school, said Agustin Aldave, MBA student and MBA class president.

“A lot of MBA programs take people with five or 10 years of real world experience Alabama takes people straight out of undergrad so we were competing with people in their 30s and who had real world experience,” Aldave said. “People have misconceptions of Alabama because we are an SEC school known for our football, but we were able to compete and beat Ivy League schools, it was a good benchmark for us.”

The competition consisted of two rounds, Aldave said. The first round included 120 schools that had to submit a presentation on sustainable farming via Internet, he said. The next round was in Bolder and included the top 20 schools.

The four students created a five-year plan that made a company with coal-fired plants profitable while embracing renewable sources of energy, Charles Hoke, an MBA student.

The plan had to meet four goals: it had to be profitable for the company, economically friendly, positively influence the costumer and had to be politically bilabial.

“The biggest challenge was creating a solution that was different from what everyone else was doing, we had some stiff competition that we knew would probably go similar routes,” Hoke said. “We had to find something different, that worked, and worked well at the same time.”

The team worked about 100 hours in a week and a half, Aldave said. The night before the competition, the team labored until 4:30 a.m., and woke up at 6 a.m. to continue preparation for presentation.

Despite losing to the University of Notre Dame, it was close competition, Aldave said.

“One of the guys from Notre Dame came up to me after we presented and said he thought we were going to beat them,” Aldave said. “We earned a lot of respect, and the judges gave us a lot of praise.”

The four team members included Agustin Tristan-Aldave, Sam Mroczynski, Holly Caraway and Charles Hoke. They won $3,000, which was split equally.

“As a business person and a student, I have learned that even if I don’t know what the subject matter is, I know that I can do enough research to form a good argument,” Aldave said. “Even if I don’t know a background in the subject matter, I know I can dominate and beat anyone who challenges me. “