Melbourne Business School wins global Nespresso Challenge

26/07/2017
A team of Melbourne Business School (MBS) MBA students defeated 87 other teams from top business schools around the world to take home the 2017 Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge in early July.
 
Part-time MBA students Toni Kovacevic, Yuanyuan Zhao, David Creak and Maree Swinden were named winners at Nespresso headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland after pitching to senior executives on how to involve Nespresso’s staff and customers more in its many sustainability initiatives.

Speaking after her team’s win, Maree said the competition has been an “incredible” experience.

“We thought making the final three was success enough, but to win is amazing. The opportunity to present to the chief executives of one of the biggest companies in the world has been incredible. When is that going to happen again in our careers?” Maree, who is an Assistant Director in the Australian Public Service when not studying, said.

Borrowing from nudge theory and behavioural economics, the MBS team’s winning idea focused on tweaking the company’s existing coffee-pod-disposal and other sustainability programs to get more buy-in from customers and Nespresso staff.

“We presented 11 different executions of this idea across business to consumer, business to business, talent acquisition and retention to show the great potential of our strategy to promote awareness and increase the participation of consumers and employees in Nespresso's existing sustainability initiatives,” said David, a consultant at global research, data and insights firm Kantar TNS.

Yuanyuan, a Service Coordinator at JB Hi-Fi Solutions, said everyone in the team believed strongly in their idea, which impressed the judges.

“We worked really hard on our pitch, including as we road-tripped through Switzerland and Italy in the days prior to the final. When we went to pitch, we were nervous but ready, and truly enjoyed every minute,” Yuanyuan said.

Fellow team member Toni, a Ford Product Planning Supervisor and past-finalist in the MBS–Visit Victoria case competition, said the team could not have succeeded in Switzerland without faculty support.

“It was absolutely critical, especially in crafting our winning pitch. We owe a huge ‘Thank you’ to coach Sven Feldmann for his advice, feedback and cheer-squad support in Lausanne, and to marketing gurus Don O'Sullivan and Ujwal Kayande, who really helped us to focus our pitch and apply Ujwal's Conjoint.ly analysis tool, which allowed us to collect some great data to support our proposal.”

Melbourne Business School Dean Zeger Degraeve congratulated the team on its success in beating US teams from Yale and Crummer business schools in the final. “Competitions, such as the Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge, provide our students with opportunities to apply skills and knowledge, developed during their MBA studies, to solving problems that affect businesses and communities,” Zeger said.

“To win this award, ahead of teams from 87 other top business schools demonstrates not only the calibre of our MBA students and quality of our program but the depth of talent available to Australian businesses who need people who can deliver innovative ways to support future growth.”

If you’re interested in the degree behind the team’s success, check out our MBA programs page.

You can find out more about the 2017 Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge.