Travel Awards

The Graduate Student Council (GSC), in collaboration with Claremont Graduate University (CGU), allocates a total of $20,000 annually for Graduate Student Travel Awards to support students’ academic and professional development. The Travel Awards Program aims to support and encourage academic excellence beyond CGU's campus and to offer students opportunities to gain professional experience they can use when applying for competitively funded grants.

Statement from CGU Graduate Student Council Travel Award Application

Every year Walmart hosts its annual “Better Living Business Plan Competition”, inviting some of the top business schools all over the United States to compete.

The purpose of the competition is to challenge MBA students to create an environmentally sustainable and executable business plan that is not only profitable, but also beneficial for society and the environment. The challenge is to develop a viable and profitable business idea and present these ideas with confidence to the leaders of the business world.

After these plans are created, they are prepared for presentation in four progressive competition rounds. Plans are judged by leading professors of top business institutions, business executives, consumer product suppliers and environmental organizations. Teams receive valuable feedback and constructive criticism along the way to refine ideas and selling tactics for following rounds.

This year, the Drucker School of Management was invited to compete for the first time. Since this was Drucker’s first year, four student teams competed locally for the honor to represent the school in the official competition and the opportunity to bring some positive limelight to our small MBA program.

After receiving that honor, our team, GreenCounting, went on to compete in the next round of the competition, held at Arizona State University, where we won first place and were chosen to compete in the National-Semifinal round of the Competition at Walmart Headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. We were among the top eight MBA schools nationwide, chosen out of forty-five.

Our team concept is to develop a Sustainability Management firm for local, capital constrained companies to help meet environmental and economic challenges by offering cost-effective solutions. Essentially, we offer clients an external “Sustainability Department” at a reasonable cost.

The six-month journey was an invaluable experience where we connected with faculty, students, business leaders, executives and more importantly, the Claremont community. It was a true lesson in applied business methods. Our final product plan improved along with our presentation, so much so that we brought much needed positive recognition to CGU and to Drucker. We clearly surprised many people with our progress; a Walmart executive even mentioned that the Drucker School was the “underdog” of the bunch and was shocked we beat Arizona State University, a leading school in Global Sustainability.

This project was truly a school wide Transdisciplinary effort and would not have been successfully completed without the support of the CGU faculty, administration and students. Dean Ira Jackson connected us in meaningful ways to the Claremont business community. Professors Joseph Lee and Jenny Darroch worked to refine our presentation styles, drastically improving our synergy and energy. Professor Roberto Pedace asked us the tough questions, while Professor Kees DeKluyver narrowed our business focus. Professors Hal Nelson, Molly Schmid, Julia Liebeskind and our fellow students gave invaluable feedback, while Professor Jay Prag provided the financial information needed to develop our ProForma financial statements. Finally, MBA director, Christina Wassenaar worked with us on each successive business plan submission.

We learned quite a bit about our abilities and pushed ourselves well beyond what we thought possible. This was the best lesson in life, business, and community. We made great connections for ourselves and for CGU. Walmart, NetImpact and the University of Arkansas expressed interest in inviting the Drucker School to host the Southwest Regional next year! Also, through our connections, Presidio School of Management is now working with the Drucker MBA Director to implement a Business Sustainability curriculum!

We did not win the Walmart Challenge, but we left with a renewed self-confidence, a marketable skill set, and may very well have created a viable business model to begin our entrepreneurial journey.

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