Team of MBAs come up with Blockchain-based tool for procurement at Heineken

A group of MBA students posing with a winners' placard.

Four MBA students from Bath School of Management won the Amsterdam Business School Challenge – centred on disruptive technology – with their blockchain-based idea.

‘Disruptive’ is an indispensable adjective in today’s business discourse, but how does it move from the realm of description to real-life application?

Today’s MBA candidates are immersed in the rhetoric of disruption, yet it is important to move beyond language and enable students to practice learned ideas in specific industries, form innovative solutions and think on their feet.

The Amsterdam Business School Challenge brought together teams of MBA students from around the globe to do just that—four companies presented four cases on one topic of disruptive technology to each of the 16 participating teams who competed to provide the most effective solutions.

Tasked to improve Heineken’s procurement process through the use of blockchain technology, Bath School of Management’s team emerged as the winners. Their solution centred on ‘connecting people, prosperity, and planet’ through distributed ledgers and smart contracts.

“Blockchain has been touted as a golden bullet to many industries,” says Philip Hodgson, a consultant, entrepreneur, and MBA candidate, “and yet most people only associate it with crypto-currencies.

“There are in fact many opportunities for businesses to reduce transaction costs, optimize processes and increase trust. We were thrilled to be able to help Heineken see its potential.”

Crissey Hewitt, who worked in fundraising and the education sector prior to her MBA, says that “disruptive technologies is a fancy label for the fact that change happens. Importantly, change in the technology industry happens at a remarkable rate in our current world.”

Crissey notes that managers are more likely to “miss key indicators” if they aren’t “paying attention to what’s happening around them.”

Stamatis Foteinogiannopoulos, a senior financial and accounting manager who previously worked at Greece’s largest law firm, highlights that “disruptive technologies are already here”. Businesses need not invent something new, but find practical applications for existing technologies.

When asked how the MBA at Bath School of Management equipped them to succeed, former financial analyst and business developer, Ritika Israni, says the team was enabled to “use a wide range of concepts” drawn from Bath’s supply chain module, sustainability workshops, and “design thinking approach embedded within the MBA.”

She continues that the team was very pleased with the successful practical application of such theoretical concepts:

“I am a strong believer of the fact that learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. It was fulfilling to be able to apply what we are learning in the MBA modules to real-world problems.

“We are grateful for the personal attention and interaction with world-class faculty members, such as Dr Bruno Oliveira and Dr Alistair Brandon Jones, provided by the MBA. This is due to the small cohort size that the Bath MBA continues to maintain.”

Stamatis adds that the Bath MBA challenged him to step out of his comfort zone. “Previously, my background was focused solely on financial metrics,” Stamatis says, “the course provided exposure to different industries, and required us to deal with real clients facing real problems with real expectations. This honed my ability to think on my feet, which helped greatly in the competition.”

Crissey agrees: “The adage ‘practice makes perfect’ may only apply in some scenarios, but with articulation and presentation practice certainly helps!” She says that the program helped her to think “holistically and focus on outputs.”

The team of four MBA students from Bath School of Management epitomize the Bath MBA class—four very different people from very different backgrounds. “This offered a beautifully broad and rich collective perspective,” says Crissey.

For Philip, exposing a real-world problem faced by Heineken’s supply chain, and successfully finding a blockchain solution for it, reaffirmed his belief in the pivotal role of innovation in business—something all students on the Bath MBA are taught.

“The appropriate adoption of disruptive technologies can transform any business” he concludes.

This article was originally published by Business Because.