Making the case in Hungary Solving real-world business case studies is as essential to an MBA program as paprika is to Hungarian goulash. But not every MBA candidate heads for Europe to propose solutions—and rarely to the business owners themselves.
In June, a four-person team from the Leavey School of Business tied for first place at an international case competition held in Budapest by IAMA, the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association. Irene Cermeno MBA ’11, Michael Enos MBA ’11, Andrew C.S. Tseng MBA ’09, and Danielle Wenzel MBA ’11 defeated eight other teams from universities in Hungary, Canada, and Australia. They also beat large U.S. ag schools such as Purdue and Texas A&M.
In its first case, the Santa Clara team explored how Bánffi, an expanding family-owned Hungarian seltzer producer, could meet European Union regulations and extend its market beyond the provincial town of Szeged. Strategies proposed included revitalizing the product by adding flavor and investing capital in retooling the bottling systems.
Santa Clara went on to the finals against three other teams. All formed strategies for Green Care Amsterdam, a Dutch program serving the disabled, ex-prisoners, the homeless, and former drug addicts. Green Care transports its clients to 700 fully operational farms in the Netherlands, where they gain experience while providing farmers with free and much-needed labor. As the case study noted, “Working on a farm contributes to self-esteem, social skills, rehabilitation, inclusion, responsibility, physical health, and a sense of purpose.” The challenge was how to make the operation really take off.
“We recommended that Green Care form a strong board of directors,” SCU student Enos said. His experience in nonprofit management told him that an active board, representing many stakeholders, would offer useful oversight and guidance. “We also suggested an accreditation program so farmers could legitimize program operations,” Enos said. A cheese producer could affix a Green Care label to its products, and consumers could make purchases knowing they were supporting a program with important social benefits. The team also recommended that the board collect a variety of data, such as client recidivism rates, with metrics to show how people were being helped.