by Geoff Larcom, Published August 08, 2014
YPSILANTI – A team of Eastern Michigan University graduate students finished second this spring in a competition that examined leadership as it relates to sustainability and labor practices.
The team of Melissa Case, from Northville; Kosta Kontoyiannakis (South Lyon) Elaine Meinzer (Ann Arbor) and Jamal Mokeddem (Ypsilanti) was runner-up in the first annual MBA Leadership Case Competition, held this past spring at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Kunal Banerji, a professor of management at EMU, served as the team’s faculty advisor.
Students were asked to form a presentation that reacted to details and offered solutions to a case scenario, which was distributed at noon on the Friday a week before the event.
The case dealt with Nike and its efforts to respond to shifting external factors, including transparency in current processes, labor standards, and sustainability.
“The EMU team brought together individuals with a variety of concentrations (supply chain management, finance, marketing), which helped us develop a strong solution for Nike,” team member Melissa Case said.
The team’s main recommendations for Nike were:
• Adapt a more employee-focused culture within the company, including implementing employee leadership programs, incentive programs, and investing in employee education.
• Strengthen the Nike mission statement and core values to incorporate employee value into company culture.
• Be an industry leader and develop standards for fair wages, both domestic and global, that can be applied as an industry standard.
• Partner with critics, such as non-government organizations, to continue a proactive approach to addressing industry issues and concerns.
• Sustainability: Reduce number of suppliers and offer incentives to suppliers who comply with sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
• Integrate Enterprise Resource Planning software with suppliers.
• Raise supplier standards and indexes as they are met as well as integrate suppliers into product development.
• Advertise increasing focus on "green products" so consumers are aware of sustainable practices, a huge marketing opportunity.
“The competition was a great educational experience, and allowed (our team) to gain further experience in presenting to high-level business leaders,” Case said. “In addition, we were able to network and share insights with MBA students from other universities.”
Students had a week to prepare their presentations, which they submitted on the Friday beginning the event. The competition took place the following Saturday morning, with each group presenting its conclusions before a panel of judges with academic and business backgrounds.
Teams were evaluated on their solutions to the case and the quality of their presentation. Each member of the team was required to contribute to the group’s overall presentation.
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne finished first in the competition, and Ball State was third.
Teams consisted of four students, each of whom was enrolled in a graduate business program.