Each year, hundreds of students from around the world descend on the LMU campus to participate in the International Business Ethics and Sustainability Case Competition (IBESCC). This year’s competition, held both online and in-person from April 10-14, marked the largest number of student teams in IBESCC history with 37 teams from 25 universities across six countries. The competition kicked off with a keynote talk by Martha Montoya, CEO and co-founder of Agtools as well as a CBA parent, at the Global Sustainability Summit.
One of the most impactful aspects of IBESCC, organized by LMU’s Institute for Business Ethics and Sustainability (IBES), is the high level of support and engagement by alumni. This year featured a record 80 volunteer judges, many of whom are highly successful alumni, who take time out of their busy schedules to evaluate team presentations and provide feedback.
“A great part of IBESCC is the number of LMU alumni serving as judges and working with the student teams during their presentations,” said Jeff Thies, director of IBES. “Such a great example of alumni giving back, and the beauty is that they share how much they learn through the process. For both students and judges, the importance of business ethics and sustainability is reinforced as they teach one another.”
Undergraduate and graduate teams choose a contemporary issue in business ethics and prepare a 25-minute, 10-minute, and 90-second presentation that explains the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of the problem. They then propose a solution that must work on all three counts and present their cases to a panel of executive judges.
Some of the timely topics included sustainable cocoa farming in Cameroon; AI bias; ethics of subprime lending; electric vehicle battery innovation; and COVID vaccine inequity, among others. See the final competition results here.
The impact and importance of competitions like IBESCC has grown over the years as more and more universities and businesses put additional focus on ethics and sustainability. An anonymous comment from a judge in a post-IBESCC survey stated, “Our world is fractured by non-ethical practices in business, politics, social life, etc. Emphasizing that these future leaders will be responsible for making ethical decisions while implementing sustainable concepts is more important that I can possibly emphasize.”
Several alumni volunteers and student participants share why they got involved in IBESCC, its lasting impact and the importance of giving back to the next generation of business leaders.
Deborah and Dan Koskovich ’77 are currently in year three of a five-year pledge to support IBESCC by underwriting a portion of the cost of the event. Dan has judged IBESCC for many years and says that “as technology advances, businesses will be increasingly challenged by difficult decisions that include thorny ethical consequences. With that, the future will be best served by talented leaders guided by strong ethics and IBESCC is a wonderful exercise in adding exposure to ethical decision making to our future business leaders.”
Bill Murin ’71, senior judge, says every year he gets more out of the competition than he puts in. “This year a team presented on the growing chocolate industry in Africa. The students were well prepared and gave a very effective presentation on how we often overlook that this industry is based on local family farmers. I was humbled and came away with an appreciation for the economic structure and working conditions for such a large industry.”
Jason West, MBA ’15, senior judge, says staying involved and giving back to the university allows him to show appreciation for the impact LMU has had on his life and career. “There is so much that I learn at IBESCC! It brings together students and faculty from around the world, allowing me to network with individuals from diverse backgrounds and gain exposure to different perspectives and approaches on business ethics and sustainability.”
Intissar Durham, MBA ’02, has served as a mentor in the Executive MBA program, and is new to the IBESCC judging experience. “I was very impressed with the teams’ thoughtfulness, research, understanding of their chosen topics, and above all their passion about the subject. But it was not until halfway through the competition that I had this overwhelming sense of hope for our planet where these young competitors will be the future leaders who care deeply about the environment we live in and will be thoughtful and discerning in their everyday decisions in life and in business.”
Jacob Russet ’23 and Ashlee Newton ’24 got involved with IBESCC through their “Business Ethics and Sustainability” course, in which the top two teams from the class represented LMU in the international competition. “I had the opportunity to hear Dan Koskovich speak on IBESCC and his experience at LMU,” said Russet, a recent finance grad and incoming credit analyst at Bridge Bank. “His emphasis on the importance of business ethics not only motivated me for the competition but inspired me to prioritize these ethical lessons as I begin my career.”
Marketing student Newton recalls being nervous when she was selected to give a solo elevator pitch on her team’s topic. “I felt as though I went through a lot of personal growth by gaining the courage to participate in this segment,” she said. “It was rewarding and provided me with new confidence in my abilities. It was also inspiring to see an array of alumni supporting our academic endeavors. Their encouragement made me feel as though my hard work was noticed and paid off.”
“IBESCC would not be possible without the generous support of our alumni,” added Dayle Smith, dean of LMU College of Business Administration. “I thank the many alumni as well as our parents and friends of the college who have given their time, talent and treasure this year. I encourage our alumni and greater CBA community to give to areas in CBA they are passionate about so we can continue offering high-impact engagement opportunities for our students.”
To learn more about how to support IBESCC or another program or initiative in the College of Business Administration, contact Roberta Kuhlman, senior director of development, at Roberta.Kuhlman@lmu.edu or make a gift now.