ESC dual-degree students, Kenan-Flagler teammates are finalists in 2018 Patagonia Case Study Competition

Two Environment and Science Communication dual-degree students are part of a team from UNC-Chapel Hill that has been named among 10 finalists in the 2018 Patagonia Case Competition. Alexandra Grant and Maddie Omeltchenko and their teammates from the Kenan-Flagler Business School will present their case study to Patagonia company executives at the University of California at Berkeley on April 19-20.

Winners of the case study competition will receive a $22,500 prize and a trip to the Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, California. Patagonia also aims to implement the winning proposal as part of their business strategy and the case itself will be used as teaching material in classrooms throughout the world.

UNC’s five-person team, Carolina Tar Heels, has been preparing for the competition throughout the 2017-18 academic year. Grant and Omeltchenko entered the case competition as an extracurricular activity along with teammates Harry Ashforth, Carrie Bales and Pat Kelly, all MBA students. The two have begun graduate coursework at the MJ-school as part of the ESC dual-degree program, which allows students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in as little as five years.

Grant and Omeltchenko say the experience of working with older MBA students has been both challenging and rewarding.

“I think we work really well as a team,” says Omeltchenko. “We balance each other out.” 

Grant says her team’s strength is in their diverse background. Grant, who is also majoring in history, provides an interdisciplinary look at ecological programs, with a background in public relations and market research. Omeltchenko’s focus is communications and marketing. Team members from Kenan-Flagler have experience in other industries, such as energy, real estate and consulting.

“I've really learned how to work in a professional setting with people who have different backgrounds,” says Grant. "It's been super cool."

Now in its third year, the Patagonia Case Competition provides opportunities for graduate students across the United States to tackle business and sustainability aspects of a current, real-life issue facing the outdoor gear retailer. The 2018 competition focuses on the company’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2025. Previous competitions have focused on regenerative agriculture and the environmental dangers of water-repellent.