Sustainability success for Beedie MBAs at Net Impact competition

Apr 13, 2016
The 2016 SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge organizing committee. from left to right: Rylan Dobson, Jacqueline Norris, Grace Potma, Spencer Westlake, Harchil Cherukuri, and Saman Moradi-Monfared.

The 2016 SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge organizing committee. From left to right: Rylan Dobson, Jacqueline Norris, Grace Potma, Spencer Westlake, Harshil Cherukuri, and Saman Moradi-Monfared.

Graduate students at the Beedie School of Business savoured success in the field of sustainability, as they both hosted and competed at the third annual SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge.


VIDEO: Participating students, sponsors and Beedie professor Stephanie Bertels talk about the 2016 Net Impact Sustainability Challenge.

Organized entirely by students in the SFU Net Impact Segal chapter, each year the competition connects graduate students from across the Pacific Northwest region for two days of sustainability-focused competition and networking.

This year’s competition welcomed ten teams from top schools in Canada and the US to compete for a prize pool of $7,000. It was won by the University of Victoria, with the returning champions Pinchot University, Washington, taking second place, and one of two Beedie teams participating in the competition earning the bronze medal.

The Beedie team, comprising full-time MBA students Louise Wilkinson, Dylan Bird-Singh, Rohan Vora, and Gary Sidhu, took home a prize of $1,000 for their third place finish, with first and second place earning $4,000 and $2,000 respectively. In addition, Beedie part-time MBA student Monica Nguyen won one of two prizes for best individual speaker at the competition.

Held from 8 – 9 April, for the first time the closing stages of the competition were hosted at the new TELUS Garden building, the organization’s new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum-rated headquarters.

“TELUS was pleased to participate in and host the Net Impact Sustainability Challenge at TELUS Garden, and have the opportunity to share with and learn about sustainability from students and academics alike,” says Geoff Pegg, director, sustainability at TELUS.

“TELUS’ commitment to sustainability includes engaging our stakeholders and collaborating with them to understand the issues that matter to them. Being able to discuss our experiences and share examples of our sustainability actions at the competition allows us to identify opportunities and emerging issues and improve our performance.”

In another first, competing teams this year were presented with a live case. They were tasked with developing and presenting solutions to a real-world issue currently faced by competition headline sponsor FortisBC.

Focusing on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) marine bunkering, the case required a threefold approach of identifying a target for greenhouse gas reductions from switching diesel-powered ships to LNG, and developing a strategy to promote and obtain buy-in from both the public and policy-makers.

“The decision to use a live case in the competition this year was a grand success,” says Stephanie Bertels, associate professor at the Beedie School of Business and one of the judges at the competition.

“Competing teams noted that it was rewarding to work on a timely topic that challenged their preconceptions, to know that the judges had expertise and interest in the area, and that their analysis work would help shape how FortisBC would approach LNG marine bunkering going forward.”

With the 2016 competition now in the past, the SFU Net Impact organizing committee is already looking ahead to next year’s competition. They are currently hard at work preparing, with a goal of making the transitional period easier for incoming students.

“The competition was well-received by all attendees, with many of the schools already asking for a spot to be held for them next year,” says Spencer Westlake, Vice President, SFU Net Impact chapter and project manager for the 2016 SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge. “The organizing committee is currently working on establishing longer term relationships so that the next cohort of students can initially concentrate on the operational side of the competition.”

For more information on the SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge, visit

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