Photo of the winning team from Duke and UNC, along with case judges Catherine Keating and Bob Litterman of Commonfund, and R. Paul Herman, an additional finalist judge and founder of HIP Investor. Photo: Matt Hanna

Photo of the winning team from Duke and UNC, along with case judges Catherine Keating and Bob Litterman of Commonfund, and R. Paul Herman, an additional finalist judge and founder of HIP Investor. Photo: Matt Hanna

Commonfund Press Release - Wilton, CT, November 23, 2015 - On November 13th, 2015, a team of MBA students from Duke and the University of North Carolina earned first place and the $10,000 prize in the 2nd Annual Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition sponsored by Commonfund. Ten MBA teams competed hailing from Columbia Business School, University of Maryland Smith School of Business, University of Connecticut School of Business, Yale School of Management, EGADE Business School (Mexico), Cornell Johnson School of Management, Boston College Carroll School of Management, and a mixed team from Duke Fuqua and UNC Kenan-Flagler Schools of Business.

Last year at the Inaugural Low Carbon Case Competition 11 MBA teams were asked to develop investment management strategies to respond to fossil fuel divestment campaigns at universities across
the country. This year, the case was re-written to focus on developing a product focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors for Commonfund’s clients.

The winning proposal by the team from Duke-UNC recommended developing a growth fund focusing in natural resource-based real assets as a way to hedge financial and climate risk. In addition to the $10,000 prize, the team earned automatic entry into the finalist round of the Business for a Better World Case Competition in Davos this January. Other winners included Columbia Business School who took the second place prize ($3,000) and Cornell Johnson School of Management taking third ($1,000). Issues the case teams grappled with included how to identify good ESG managers across asset classes, and how to measure ESG metrics reliably for their clients, particularly those seeking to align their endowments with their missions and achieve real impact.

Catherine M. Keating, Commonfund President and CEO said, “Commonfund was thrilled to partner with the Yale School of Management again this year on a topic that is of major interest to institutional investors, and particularly, our endowment, foundation and pension clients,” she continued, “Each of the teams presented thoughtful proposals and innovative ideas that will help to advance our thinking on carbon-aware investing strategies.”

Ms. Keating, of Commonfund, and Bob Litterman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Commonfund, judged the finalist round of the case competition. Other judges included: Deborah Spalding, CIO for the State of Connecticut; Charley Ellis, Founder of Greenwich Associates; Bruce Kahn, Portfolio Manager at Sustainable Insight Capital; R. Paul Herman, Founder and CEO of the HIP Investor; and Anadi Jauhari, Senior Managing Director at Emerging Energy & Environment Investment Group.

The event, organized and hosted by the Yale School of Management’s (SOM) student-led Responsible Investing Group, attracted over 100 graduate students, investment professionals, and thought leaders including John Streur, CEO of Calvert Investments, and Frances Beinecke, former President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The event received additional support from Yale SOM’s International Center for Finance, the Yale Center for Business and Environment, the Yale SOM Net Impact Chapter and Yale SOM’s Program for Social Enterprise.

Read more coverage about the event:

Videos of the Presentations

Frances Beinecke Keynote

John Streur Keynote

Visionaries Panel

Social Challenges Panel

Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition: Duke/UNC

Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition: Columbia

Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition: Cornell

Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition: Yale


Photos from the Event