The winning case in this year’s John Molson International MBA Case Writing Competition, the most coveted award of its kind, is ECOALF: because there is no planet B by IMD Entrepreneurship Professor Benoit Leleux and Thomas Brochier (IMD MBA 2007).

The John Molson MBA International Case Competition is a not-for-profit event organized by a team of MBA candidates from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. The competition, the main purpose of which is to bridge the gap between the corporate world and academia, is recognized as the largest case competition of its kind.

Turning waste into fashion

ECOALF is a pioneer in ethical fashion and was the first Spanish fashion company certified as a B Corp (companies that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose).

Between 2015 and 2018, the company created nearly 100 new types of recycled fabrics made from fishing nets, ocean-recovered plastic, used tires, and coffee waste. Leleux and Brochier’s case tells the story of CEO Javier Goyeneche and his – often turbulent – journey turning the company into the success it is today.

“ECOALF does not have a corporate social responsibility department. We don’t need one. We don’t want one. We are one,” said Carolina Alvarez-Ossorio, the company’s Marketing and Communications Director.

The future of the insurance industry

Second prize went to IMD Professor of Digital Marketing and Strategy, Amit Joshi, and Associate Director, Business Transformation Initiative, Ivy Buche for their case, AXA: Claiming the Future Insurance.

It tells the story of the AXA group, one of the top three global insurance providers, under the stewardship of newly appointed CEO Thomas Buberl between 2016 and 2019.

Buberl’s biggest move was pivoting AXA’s portfolio from life and savings to property and casualty insurance, achieved through the US$15.3 billion acquisition of US-based XL Group, which made AXA the largest player in these sectors.

Buberl also increased Axa’s focus on the health insurance segment, accelerated growth in Asia, and launched a new business unit – AXA Next – to build an innovation ecosystem focused on developing services and business models beyond insurance.

Measuring SDG-related performance

The case Impaakt: Harnessing Collective Intelligence to Improve ESG (Environmental and Social Governance criteria) Ratings took home fourth prize and was also written by Professor Leleux alongside 2019 IMD EMBA graduates Pablo Percelsi, Stefan Witshchi, René Rozendal and Pietro Valenzano.

It follows Bertrand Gacon, Sébastian Allard and Sylvain Massot, Geneva-based banking and technology executives, as they attempt to create and fund a new digital platform to measure the performance of listed companies for their ESG initiatives using benchmarks set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The result was a Wikipedia-like platform, where users (or ‘Impaakters’) could write “Impact Notes” rating companies on their performance through the lense of the SDGs. The business model would see the company sell these assessments to financial companies and return part of the revenues to the platform’s users in return for their expertise