From West Africa to Costa Rica, My Ross Experience Took Me Full Circle


By Kaitlyn Brown, MBA ‘14

A few years ago, I was a Peace Corps volunteer working with sesame farmers and exporters in Burkina Faso (West Africa), seeing firsthand the struggles of small-scale agriculture.

This experience prompted me to come to Ross to develop the skills necessary to use business to help influence large companies to create more value for the farmers from which they source material.

I just returned from Costa Rica after having done just that with three of my Ross classmates.

Yodit Beyene, Luis Ordoñez Murra, Santiago Proaño and I won the Nespresso MBA Sustainability Challenge this summer and traveled with Nespresso to Costa Rica for an opportunity to test our ideas in the field and improve our recommendations for Nespresso.

We were given unprecedented access to Nespresso’s supply chain in Costa Rica. From coffee farmers to exporters, we were introduced to leading coffee researchers and social sector thought leaders.

Our team was deeply impressed by Nespresso’s commitment to sustainability and creating real value for the farmers from which they source their coffee. We’re thrilled to see how engaged Nespresso is with our ideas and that the company is seriously considering how to implement them in the future.

Winning the Nespresso competition at the end of business school is incredibly meaningful. It has brought my business school experience full circle and was a strong signal that Ross prepared me to do exactly what I wanted to do when I set out for school.

Check out this video that Nespresso put together after the trip!

Kaitlyn Brown is a 2014 graduate of the Michigan Ross MBA Program.