Claremont, Calif. (March 9, 2018)—A team of three Pitzer College students tied for first place in Claremont McKenna College’s Lightning Challenge, an overnight competition open to 5C students during CMC’s Entrepreneurship Week. Chava Friedman ’18, Noah Kline ’18 and Angelise Slifkin ’18 formed one of two teams that won a one-day race to create—and pitch—a business plan based on a Harvard Business School (HBS) case study. CMC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted the Lightning Challenge.
Starting on February 9, Friedman, Kline and Slifkin had from Friday to Saturday afternoon to develop a business plan that would save a troubled company outlined by HBS. That meant devising a strategy for marketing and supply-chain management, projecting financials and brainstorming strategic partnerships—all without using the internet. They then had to distill dozens of ideas into an eight-minute presentation and pitch their plan to a panel of judges, which included the creative director of the international shoe company TOMS.
The team was asked to increase the company’s profit by improving its global supply chain—a worldwide network of goods and services—while incorporating corporate social responsibility practices, Kline said.
“Simply put, we wanted to maximize our business’s value while maintaining the fact that great products come from companies that empower global communities,” Kline said.
The team gained much more from the lightning-fast competition than a $1,500 prize.
“The point of the competition was to encourage students to use multi-faceted creative problem-solving concepts to be inclusive of all the stakeholders in the company by transforming the mission of the business,” Kline said. “We got a chance to practice valuable professional skills. We also learned a lot about effective communication, both internally and externally.”
Tackling issues of corporate social responsibility complements the seniors’ desire to work for the common good while working in the business world.
“All three of us are really interested in making important change in the private sector, given that even just a small pivot in business practices can have such tremendous reach,” said Slifkin, who is majoring in environmental analysis. “We all truly believe that creative problem solving will enable our generation to use technology strategically to create a more equitable and efficient society and economy.”
Slifkin, who has interned at NASA, is pursuing a career in sustainable supply-chain management and just accepted a position as a global procurement analyst at Nike. Kline, an economics major, is a data analyst at a healthcare company, where he is working on integrating technology into clinical trials to lower healthcare costs. Friedman, a science, technology and society major who has on-the-job experience in the solar power and agricultural technology industries, plans to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering and explore the possibilities of the next space age.
The Pitzer seniors, who met their sophomore year, decided that CMC’s Lightning Challenge offered an opportunity to combine their business savvy and academic expertise. Plus, “it sounded like fun,” Kline said.
“We wanted to show everyone that CMC isn’t the only school that knows how to handle business.”