Monday, May 7, 2012

African American MBA Students Compete in 2012 Business Case Competition on Corporate Philanthropy & Black Nonprofits

University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business Takes First Place

ALEXANDRIA, VA - On Friday, April 20th, African-American MBA students from three of the nation’s leading business schools competed in the finals of The Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) 2012 Business Case Competition, which focused on corporate partnerships and support for African-American non-profits. Sponsored for the third year by Exxon Mobil Corporation, the competition invites MBA teams at select business schools to analyze compelling business issues that challenge their critical thinking, analytical, and communications skills.

The 2012 finalist teams were Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, and the winning team - The University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business. ELC’s Business Case Competition challenged this year’s teams to develop strategies for strengthening ties between the corporate social responsibility community and African-American nonprofits during tough economic times. Specifically, the competition examined how corporations can expand their global philanthropy efforts, and at the same time, maintain their commitments to African-American non-profits and other community groups at sustained or higher levels.

ExxonMobil's Jeffrey Webster, left, and Joann Lee, 2nd from right, join ELC president and CEO Arnold Donald (right) and
 first place winners Emeka N. Akpunonu and Clyde McNeil of the University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business

Emeka N. Akpunonu, left, and Clyde McNeil of the University of Houston's C. T. Bauer College of Business were the first place team in the 2012 Executive Leadership Council Business Case Competition 
sponsored by Exxon Mobil Corporation. They will share a $35,000 scholarship award for their proposal for strengthening corporate support for African-American non-profits.

This year’s competition required the teams to: conduct an assessment of the state of corporate minority philanthropy and devise five -year and 10-year projections of how to best increase support so that it will grow to 15 percent of total philanthropic giving; develop a business plan to help African-American and other minority nonprofits strengthen relationships with corporate partners to secure corporate support; develop a management plan for corporations to identify lapses in current philanthropic giving to minority nonprofits and develop appropriate processes for intervention; devise a branding and media plan that both corporations and African-American and other minority charitable organizations can leverage to promote their partnerships; and develop a rationale for having African-American and other minorities lead corporate social responsibility programs.

“Our team knew we had a strong case, and we were honored to be selected for the finals,” said team captain Emeka N. Akpunonu, a second-year MBA candidate at C. T. Bauer College of Business. “This was an important case that resonated with each of us; and just as much as we wanted to win, we also wanted to make a difference. It was our intention to offer sustainable solutions for continuing strong corporate support for African-American non-profits.” The winning team was selected by a distinguished panel of judges that included leaders from corporations and non-profits, such as the Compass Group, 100 Black Men of America, AETNA, Inc., Aztec Worldwide Group, United Way Worldwide, the Silver Parker Group, and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“I would like to congratulate all of the teams for their strong showings in the ELC’s Business Case Competition and for placing in the Finals. However, the team from University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business made a strong case, presenting exceptional recommendations on the steps corporations and African-American non-profits need to take to strengthen their ties,” said Arnold Donald, ELC’s president and CEO. Donald added, “Emeka and his teammate Clyde McNeil offered powerful solutions for helping corporations retain and increase charitable giving to African-American non-profits while expanding their philanthropic footprint around the globe.”

Both members of the Bauer team will share a $35,000 scholarship cash award and will be recognized during ELC’s 2012 Annual Recognition Gala in October before an audience of more than 2,000 corporate, education and government leaders. The second place team from Emory’s Goizueta Business School will receive a $20,000 scholarship cash award with the third place team from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business receiving $15,000.

ExxonMobil has a long history of supporting ELC’s mission to develop African-American corporate leaders, especially in the areas of math, science and technology. For the past three years, ExxonMobil has sponsored the Business Case Competition on topics such as innovative STEM education for middle school students and devising an energy plan for the US by the year 2030.

About The Executive Leadership Council

The Executive Leadership Council is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(6) corporation founded in 1986, comprised of current and former African-American CEOs and senior executives at Fortune 500 and equivalent companies. For more than 25 years, the ELC has worked to build an inclusive business leadership pipeline and to empower African-American corporate leaders to make significant and impactful contributions in the global marketplace and their communities. Their programs develop future business leaders, filling the pipeline from the classroom to the boardroom. It is the preeminent organization that recognizes the strengths, success, contributions, and impact of African-American corporate business leaders.

The ELC’s related charitable organization, the Executive Leadership Foundation, focuses on improving local communities and helping disadvantaged groups within the broader society. The 501(c)(3) affiliate supports education programs and provides scholarships to deserving students interested in business and corporate careers. For more information about The Executive Leadership Council, please visit

Top photo caption: First, second and third place winning teams in the 2012 Business Case Competition with Executive Leadership Council president and CEO Arnold Donald (Center). From left to right: Emory University Goizueta Business School second place winners Joe Faxio, Rae Oglesby (Team Captain), Olatorera Majekodunmi, Onix Ramirez and Lesha Scott; University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business first place winners Clyde McNeil and Emeka N. Akpunonu (Team Captain); and, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business third place winners Kate Kastenbaum, Patricia Beasley, Heather Rae Martin, Stephanie Shapiro and Brittany Claud (Team Captain).

Source and photos: Executive Leadership Council

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