Montreal Case Competition Teaches Chemistry & MBA Students Sustainability for the Real World


Published: 19Nov2013

Last Fall, the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management (MDIIM) and the McGill Department of Chemistry in Montreal collaborated to offer MBA and Chemistry Students the opportunity to participate in a unique two-day event. The case competition created opportunities to build a network of potential collaborators in business and chemistry. 

On Day 1, student learned about green chemistry and its role in sustainable development; the business of sustainability and innovation and their roles in sustainable development; the challenges of bringing clean technologies to market; the challenges of interdisciplinary communications and network-building; and how to assess the marketability of new innovations. Guest lectures were provided by Dr. David Constable (Director of the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute) and Lynn Leger (Director of ALCERECO).  

On Day 2, students were placed in interdisciplinary (chemistry and management) teams led by McGill experts to work on a challenge where they integrated technical and business information as well as applied new concepts. The premise was that teams were working for a green chemistry consulting company and asked to contribute to a given company's strategic planning. Students had to evaluate a product, using the 12 principles of green chemistry, and identify potential new markets.

Steve Maguire, Director, Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management, said: "The Sustainable Innovation workshop is an exciting interdisciplinary learning opportunity - a microcosm of the real-world challenges that practitioners face as they confront decisions that require them to integrate technical and business perspectives. Students need to communicate, cooperate and depend upon colleagues whose knowledge base differs vastly from their own, so these types of experiences are challenging, but ultimately highly rewarding according to the vast majority of feedback we've received from the two cohorts of students that have participated so far." 

A $500 cash prize was awarded to the winning case team who integrated technical and business information while demonstrating mastery of new concepts. Arguments relating to product performance and ecological footprint were invoked and used to support business recommendations. The cooperation between MBAs and chemists is an important experience for future careers.

Western Sustainability & Pollution Prevention Network, November 2013

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