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Direct Energy Business Plays Integral Role in MBA Energy Case Study Competition

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For the past few months, a few Direct Energy Business (DEB) employees have collaborated with organizers of the BNY Mellon Katz Invitational Case Competition writing an energy case study for MBA participants. Sixteen teams comprised of four to five MBA students from all industry backgrounds and disciplines participated in the second annual competition. Teams traveled from all across the United States (as did one from Germany) to the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh to compete.

The one-day invitational took place January 25. Teams were given a single energy-related business case and three weeks to prepare presentations that addressed one central task: How should Franklin Power Solutions, a fictitious company loosely based on Direct Energy, maintain its competitive advantage and differentiation in a changing retail energy landscape? Students had two alternate paths to consider: 1) commodity margin adaptation or 2) investment in technology and product innovation. The students also had to weave the underlying theme of corporate social responsibility into their recommendations.

Judges hailed from companies including BNY Mellon, Direct Energy Business, Chevron, Consol Energy, EQT Corporation, Federated Investors, and more.

At the reception that evening, I had the pleasure of speaking to an audience of around 100 attendees about the importance of energy in the US, the impact that innovation has had (and will continue to have) on the industry, along with a need to attract and retain bright, young talent to help advance the industry.

We announced the University of Florida as the winner of the competition, and the team was presented with a $10,000 check for their succinct plan to focus on a solar market growth strategy. Three other teams placed too: Pennsylvania State University (2nd), Carnegie Mellon University (3rd), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (4th).

It was great meeting and working with fellow judges while engaging with the students about their observations and ideas. Competitions such as the BNY Mellon Katz Invitational Case Competition provide MBA candidates with experiential learning, which is difficult to replicate in the classroom. Direct Energy was pleased to participate in this event and hear firsthand some great ideas related to the energy industry.

Photo caption (from left): Todd Sandford, Head of Solutions for Direct Energy Business (DEB); Matt Wheatley, Head of Commercial Strategy, East, DEB; Hans Rottmann, Senior Manager of Market Intelligence, DEB; Tim Cienkowski, Business Transformation Partner, DEB; Anna Kearney, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, BNY Mellon; Donna Hudson, Pittsburgh Executive Director, BNY Mellon; Heidi Bartholomew, Interim Director, David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership; Jim DeLong, Head of Marketing Strategy, DEB; Mike D'Aurizio, Senior Analyst, Strategy & Corporate Development, DEB

Posted: February 05, 2014