Johnson School team wins New Orleans challenge

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Joe Schwartz

A Johnson School team won first place in the IdeaCorps Challenge at Entrepreneur Week 2010, March 20-27, in New Orleans.

The challenge charged teams from the nation's leading business schools to use their professional skills in short-term, high-impact service roles in the revitalization of New Orleans. Cornell was invited to participate for the first time and competed against visiting teams from Northwestern, Stanford, the University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkeley.

The Cornell team helped Schedulist, a New Orleans-based startup, develop a plan to address the launch, marketing and investment sourcing approach for their workforce scheduling program. The team was judged by Gen. Wesley Clark and Jim Coulter, founding partner of TPG Capital, among others.

The experience was an opportunity to "apply the tools we learned in core coursework, immersions and electives," said team leader Marlon Nichols.

"It was not just a theoretical exercise, it was real work on behalf of a real client, and it required a combination of analytical thinking and team leadership skills under time-pressured conditions," he said. "This is exactly what the Johnson School is all about."

IdeaCorps Challenge organizers selected Nichols, on behalf of the M.B.A. participants, to address politicians, business leaders and the press during the closing dinner party at the home of journalists James Carville and Mary Matalin. The Johnson School has been invited to participate in future competitions indefinitely.

The Cornell team -- which also included of Daniel Hest, Kelly Dwyer, Padraic McConville, Lou Paik, Jamease Leonard, Henry Parry-Okeden and Matthew Donovan -- was sponsored by American Airlines and received support from numerous organizations, including the Black Graduate Business Association, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Sustainable Global Enterprise Club.


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