Unlike his peers, though, you will find the Buckhead resident in Switzerland this week vying against some of the world’s brightest young minds.
Chesney and his teammates from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., are finalists in the 2013 Nestle-Nespresso AAA Sustainability MBA Challenge, an annual global competition to promote sustainability.
“It’s really been an amazing experience,” said Chesney, 24. “We’ve been working hard and we’re definitely looking forward to [finishing strong].”
Organizers of the competition challenged participants to devise a plan to make small holder coffee farming in Colombia sustainable for the next 25 years.
Chesney and the company’s project bested the offerings of teams hailing from around the world, including venerated stateside institutions like the University of Michigan and Duke, to secure one of the three finalist spots. The remaining slots were awarded to schools from the Netherlands and Canada.
Taking the root-cause analysis approach, Chesney’s unit sought to determine why an increasing number of small-scale Colombian coffee farmers are abandoning their farms and all relevant implications.
“We just kept peeling layers off of this onion until we got down to what we thought was the core issue. … If we solve that, everything else will kind of solve itself,” Chesney said.
The affable Lovett School product, who earned an MBA in May, was not at liberty to disclose the intimate details of his team’s proposed resolution by press time.
To hear Chesney’s fellow academics tell it, his contribution to Rollins’ “All-Star” team in Switzerland is bound to make a difference.
“In class, Will was always prepared and engaged,” said Susan A. Bach, executive director of the Center of Leadership Development at Crummer. “I had a strong sense that he was also admired and respected by his peers.
“I have every confidence that Will impresses others in the same way and expect to hear about many additional achievements in his future,” she said.
The winner of the Nespresso Challenge will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Colombia and the opportunity to assist in the implementation of their sustainability initiative.
Chesney is the first to acknowledge that being involved in the far-reaching tilt has changed his perception of sustainability.
“It kind of changed my perspective … to see that sustainability was much broader than I initially thought it to be,” he said. “It’s not just about preserving a natural resource, but also making sure that an economic activity can keep going on.”