What Else? CEMSies Win the Nespresso MBA Sustainability Challenge

CEMSies across the globe are gaining recognition for their high performance and we’re reaching out to these high flyers to discover the secrets to their success.
Sandra Tersluisen, Clara Nordlander, Chris Royle, and Bob den Hartog

Representing the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) the team of Sandra Tersluisen, Clara Nordlander, Chris Royle, and Bob den Hartog, recently took the top spot in the Nespresso MBA Sustainability Challenge, competing with 86 student teams from different business schools and universities from around the globe.


The goal of the competition is to generate ideas related to the circular economy as opposed to the linear ‘take, make, dispose’ model. “The overall idea was to not only reduce negative impact from the production and consumption of coffee, but to also contribute with positive value. Our concept, which we called ‘Reduce&Recycle’ included ideas on how to prolong the lifecycle of the products and reduce waste along the value chain, “ says Nordlander.

Unlike the other teams that were individually selected by academic mentors, the CEMS team came into the competition already as good friends, which was one of their recipes to success. “These cases take many hours and it’s very important to be with people you can communicate directly with, and that you know well enough to give honest feedback. This saves much time and also makes the whole experience a lot more fun,” says den Hartog. “We really  built  on each others ideas, which became evident in our 30 minute Q&A session, something the judges really appreciated.”

The students also pointed to the lessons they learned from their CEMS/SSE experience that helped with the win. “The study granted by the CEMS MIM prepared us to be extremely comfortable presenting to some of the world’s top business leaders, such as the Nestlé Nespresso CEO. One of SSE’s strongest assets is its close ties with the business community, which means all of us have been consistently exposed to great companies through group projects, presentations, or extracurricular activities. This allowed us to be calm, collected, and extremely professional in all aspects of our proposal for the challenge,” says den Hartog.

“It came down to well thought-through ideas that would appeal both to Nespresso as a company and consumers, a confident presentation by leveraging all of our team skill sets, and a strong preparation prepared for the 30 minute Q&A,” says Royle. Tersluisen added, "the whole competition was very well organized and an extensive feedback session before the finals gave us the opportunity to develop our proposal further.” She also feels that a positive mind can help you go a long way, even if you feel the odds are against you.

For CEMSies considering entering this competition in the future, den Hartog says, “You are going to go up against the best schools around the world, and MBA students that are often more experienced than the typical CEMSie. But as a CEMSie, we all love to push ourselves so I don’t hesitate many would be up for the challenge.”

About Chris Royle

Chris grew up in Canada, and studied in Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing, Paris and Stockholm, where he has also been active as the CEMS Club President for the Spring 2015 Term. Chris is passionate about innovation, business with social impact and is looking forward to starting a business, while maintaining a focus on sustainable leadership.

About Clara Nordlander

Clara grew up in Sweden, but has also studied in the US, France and Austria (WU being her CEMS host school), and worked in Berlin, Germany. She also spent a year representing SSE in the CEMS Student Board. Clara loves music in all forms, and is passionate about health, social development and sustainability. In her future, she aims at combining her social interest with working in business development and international expansion.

About Bob den Hartog

Bob has spent most of his life in Asia, having grown up in The Philippines and Thailand. He studied in Rotterdam and Singapore for his Bachelor’s degree and Stockholm and Milan for his Master’s degree. He’s passionate about novelty creation and business expansion in addition to Scuba Diving, cooking Thai food and traveling! Following a well deserved break over the summer, he will be working full-time at a CEMS corporate partner. He hopes one day to return home to Asia and to lead a team to expand the business in these ever-growing markets.

About Sandra Tersluisen

Sandra grew up and studied in Germany, as well as studying in Sweden and the Netherlands, where she was the President for the CEMS Club Rotterdam. She’s passionate for developing brands and new market strategies around the world and is looking forward to starting off as a marketeer at a CEMS corporate partner in the consumer goods industry.