Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics

IBM listens in NYC to student’s innovative ideas all the way from Jyväskylä

IBM listens in NYC to student’s innovative ideas all the way from Jyväskylä

JSBE team at New York

Less dispersed locations for IBM’s corporate pro-bono program and collaboration with local universities: these where the ideas which got the JSBE’s (Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics) team of four students to New York. In the headquarters of BNY Mellon they competed against students from other business schools in the Aspen Institute International MBA Case competition.

Their journey began already in the beginning of April when Corporate Environmental Management (CEM) Phd student and Aspen case alumni Stefan Baumeister introduced the case to five teams of students from International Business and Entrepreneurship (IBE) and CEM. In 72 hours the students had to come up with a solution how to increase the social impact and measurement of IBM’s corporate pro-bono program. While steam rose from the library’s group working rooms, ideas where generated to improve the program, but also retain IBM’s triple benefits of their corporate pro-bono program: (1) Leadership training for talented IBMers, (2) Brand recognition for IBM and (3) Improvement in communities. This IBM case fitted well with the mission of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, namely to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society and the planet. On Friday the 7th of April the students presented their ideas to the JSBE judges and after two judgements in the US, the winning team was happily surprised to read on their laptops: ‘Dear team, I have very exciting news to share with you, your team is chosen to the finals in New York next week!’ After arranging the trip and with a bit of healthy nerves, the team flew over the Atlantic Ocean to finally present their ideas on the 27th of April. The next day, in the prestigious Yale Club, the team achieved the 4th place while the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University won the competition.

Cornelia Smallegange, Hilla Hoskonen, Nina Tuovinen and Otso Tolonen
Cornelia Smallegange, Hilla Hoskonen, Nina Tuovinen and Otso Tolonen

For the students, the competition was a great learning experience. Hilla Hoskonen (CEM) says ‘I will definitely carry with me the perseverance of my teammates, the organization skills of the team from the Aspen Institute, and the confidence and skills of the fellow finalists. Also I’ve learned that innovation and ideas cannot be forced’. IBE student Nina Tuovinen adds to that: ‘This was by far the most inspiring team work experience for me: the brainstorming, the long weekend of working on the case, the last minute panic; and this all led us to New York.’ Also Cornelia Smallegange (CEM) thinks the experience with team work was the most valuable learning point of this competition: ‘It can be both challenging and inspirational at the same time to combine innovative thinking, keeping a high team spirit and reporting efficiently. But we made it!’ Otso Tolonen (CEM) adds to this: ‘Especially working with such a strict time constraint as 72 hours to solve a significant issue for a multinational corporation posed a tremendous challenge to all teams. In the end, it wasn’t only about being creative, but also you had to show great time and team management skills as well as solid communication know-how to validate your point’.

The Aspen Case competition really showed the students that many intelligent, hard-working and ambitious people are working to make people, planet and profit work for a better world. Also the cross-department work between CEM and IBE was eye-opening and stimulated the team to see and explain the case from different perspectives. Lastly, the trip gave insights into the world of creative consultants, stressful business presentations and concise reporting; a career path that Hilla, Nina, Cornelia and Otso might consider after this exciting and inspirational experience.

The judges of the Aspen Institute's 2017 Business and Society International MBA Case Competition
The judges of the Aspen Institute's 2017 Business and Society International MBA Case Competition
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