Oxford MBA students in Team Drastic Plastic
Oxford MBA students in Team Drastic Plastic (pictured) won this year's Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford (GOTO) Summit
This year's GOTO theme was 'Systems reset', to seize the moment and reimagine our systems.
Every Oxford MBA student takes part in GOTO, focusing on a world-scale issue to seek out business solutions. Along the way they learn the frameworks and tools to help them achieve the aim of ‘leading with purpose’. This year’s Summit saw four teams of students pitching ideas on the 2021 theme of ‘Systems reset’ to judges including Dr Jim Yong Kim, former President of the World Bank.
Imagine a world following the pandemic where we don’t produce new plastic. That is the ambition behind the winning proposal of team Drastic Plastic, to rethink our global systems. The winning team members tell us all about their proposal and how they feel about winning.
Drastic Plastic comprised of Oliver Doraisamy; Jasper Krapp; Virginie Astier Kenneally; Maneesha Wijesinghe; and George Popps.
Their proposal is in keeping with global commitments made to reduce or end plastic use and they suggest all the plastic could be in a ‘circular economy’ by 2040.
They say demand for plastic and related products would be entirely covered by recycled plastic and/or plastic alternatives. The team proposes the world stops producing ‘virgin plastic’, instead recycling and repurposing existing supply while buying time for longer-term solutions to develop and replace the material. They say winning the competition gives them credibility to pursue an agenda around reducing plastic use and said it was an issue they all planned to champion in their careers.
George Popps: ‘We understand that use of plastic has gone up four times during the pandemic and now is the time to rethink what we are all doing.'
Virginie Astier Kenneally: ‘In the longer-term we could see virgin plastic removed entirely from the system, replaced by more environmentally-friendly alternatives, like reusable packaging. Our vision would see an accompanying change in how we all live our lives so we don’t rely on plastic so much.’
Maneesha Wijesinghe: ‘We’re hugely frustrated at the amount of plastic we come across daily, especially in food and drink. Removing it has life-changing benefits, including less carbon emissions and pollution.’
Jasper Krapp: 'We are under no illusions over the scale of change required. We’ve taken in to consideration that returning to paper or glass packaging could actually result in more carbon emissions due to transporting heavier materials. We think our proposal is realistic and impactful but also know we need to strike a balance between pragmatism and ambition. This is a long-term suggestion. Plus, we know that many of our global systems are underwritten by entrenched power dynamics, social norms, and economic structures that can be hard to shift unless everyone works together.’
Oliver Doraisamy: ‘We felt privileged just to be selected among the final four groups, so to win the GOTO Summit was extremely humbling. The other finalists all had very compelling projects, so to be chosen from among them was the icing on top of an already great experience. We drew on a range of areas we’d covered in our MBA, including systems-change, sustainability, the interaction between public and private actors, technology, and business innovation.’
Peter Drobac, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship: ‘This year we challenged our MBA students to respond to a world in crisis. The entire class rose to the occasion, as evidenced by the extraordinary presentations at the GOTO Summit. Team Drastic Plastic demonstrated how systems thinking can unlock innovative ideas for deep change. I want to congratulate all our students for their commitment and creativity. In the face of exceptional challenges, they all delivered.’
Finalists, proposals and position
Runner up. #EducateOurGirls - A journey of understanding secondary education for girls in Kenya
Third. WOW: Working on Wellness - addressing isolation to improve workplace wellness in Toronto, Canada
Fourth. Elevate Rayya - tackling gender inequality in the Nigerian agricultural sector
Watch the Summit, including all the presentations and a keynote speech by Dr Jim Yong Kim, on the Saïd Business School YouTube channel.