Mendoza School of Business

Notre Dame MBA virtual case competition names winners

Published: February 25, 2011 / Author: Carol Elliott

You’ve heard of paying it forward? How about brewing it forward?

A marketing plan that combines a love for coffee, charitable giving and a major coffee company’s mission of social responsibility won the Notre Dame MBA Deep Dive Challenge, a virtual case competition sponsored by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

The competition, launched online on Jan. 17, asked participants to analyze a real-life business challenge offered by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and submit their own one-page proposal for judging by company executives. The challenge involved creating a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign for Keurig Inc. – a Green Mountain business unit – while following the core value structure of the parent company. More than 400 individuals registered for the competition.

Kate McDonald, a prospective student from Philadelphia currently applying to the Notre Dame MBA program, won the challenge with her “Brew It Forward” proposal. Her plan allows individuals to nominate specific wishes for charities in their communities. Consumers can earn “K-cash” for each K-Cup used that can be put toward the project. As the winner, she will receive a $10,000 fellowship toward tuition upon successfully matriculating into the program.

“I have an interest in pursuing a career in brand management and marketing,” said McDonald, who has been working in legal marketing for a Philadelphia law firm for the past five years. “I thought this case study would force me to draw upon my personal and professional experiences, while being the closest thing that I could find to act as a real life challenge for someone who might work in that field.”

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters considers its long history of CSR initiatives as central to its mission. Green Mountain supports local and global communities by offsetting 100 percent of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, and donating at least 5 percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects.

“We were very struck by the winner’s submission, as it seemed to not only capture the essence of what we are trying to do, from a CSR perspective, but it also would be easy to execute and it provides a wide range of possibilities to do so,” said Chris Stevens, Keurig vice president of Corporate Relations and Customer Development.

“The ‘Brew It Forward’ idea came out on top because of the potential ease of execution and its connection to the role that choice plays in the Keurig brand experience,” said Michael Dupee, the vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Green Mountain. “The plan also had applicability in any number of geographies and for any number of potential audience members, and easy compatibility with all communication and media channels.”

Second place went to Tom Martin of Kansas City, Mo., who has been admitted to Notre Dame as a two-year MBA student for the class of 2013, for his plan for a renewable energy credit. Prospective student Douglas Allen of Phoenix, Ariz., won third place with his “Keurig Cares” home recycling proposal. Eight honorable mentions were also named. In addition to the Grand Prize Notre Dame MBA fellowship, the various prize packages also included Notre Dame/adidas T-shirts; McDonald’s and adidas’ gift cards; and Keurig Platinum Coffee Brewers, boxes of single serve K-Cup® portion packs and mugs.

The Notre Dame MBA Deep Dive Challenge, which was open to the public, was launched in order to give prospective students and others a taste of the type of real-life live business problems that MBA students experience in a signature feature of the MBA curriculum, the Interterm Intensives. This portion of the curriculum involves students taking on live business problems from companies such as GE, McDonald’s, adidas, Coca-Cola, and Boeing in an intense 4-day session. As a part of the challenge, participants had the opportunity to chat online with Green Mountain executives and watch a series of videos that followed a team of Notre Dame MBA students who participated in a similar Interterm Intensive deep-dive course in the fall.

The Notre Dame MBA, which offers one-year and two-year programs, is noted for its innovative teaching in the area of problem solving and for its emphasis on personal and corporate ethics as well as social responsibility. The Mendoza MBA Program was ranked No. 5 on the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes, a biennial ranking and survey of top U.S. business schools’ incorporation of social and environmental stewardship into their curricula and research.

Contact: Brian Lohr, director of Notre Dame MBA Admissions, at (574) 631-8488 or


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