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Honors at Autzen

On Saturday November 22, the Lundquist College’s Undergraduate Business Honors Program hosted more than 80 alumni and current students for a tailgate celebration before the Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes.

The reunion provided current students with the opportunity to connect with program alumni and gain insight into transitioning into the professional world, as well as network for future internship and job opportunities.

Attendees socialized over a catered barbecue. In addition to meeting alumni, students had the opportunity to socialize with current honors faculty and Lundquist College administration.

“It was great to spend time with alumni, faculty, and my peers outside of the traditional classroom setting, I look forward to coming back as an alumni next year,” said Maury Bardovi, a current senior in the program.

In addition to benefiting current students, the event served as a great opportunity for alumni to give back to the program they graduated from.

The Honors Program has focused on bridging the gap between current students and alumni and the tailgate was another great way of achieving that goal. In addition to the tailgate, the program will host both current students and alumni for dinner and a question and answer panel at its annual networking event in downtown Portland next term.

Please contact program director Deb Bauer (djbauer@uoregon.edu) with any questions regarding the Business Honors Program.

Written by Maury Bardovi

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Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

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Defining ‘Sustainable Business’: Net Impact Conference 2014

Greenbiz, B-Corp, the three Ps, LEED Certified, CSR, ESG, SRI.  What do all these acronyms and buzz words mean?  And what exactly is a career in sustainable business?  If you’re like me, six weeks into the Sustainable Business Practices MBA at the University of Oregon, that last one is a pretty important question.

The Net Impact Conference, held in Minneapolis Minnesota, came at a perfect time to help me start to understand the broad variety of applications of sustainability in business.

The annual conference brings together thousands of students and business professionals who want to make a positive impact on the world.  It is a weekend for networking, inspirational speeches, exchanging ideas, and pushing boundaries

At this year’s conference, I heard about B-Corps from Andrew Kassoy, the founder of B Lab; discussed the pivotal role women will play in development with Suzanne Fallender (the director of the Global Girls and Women Initiative through Intel) and Faziun Kamal (founder of sourceFK a company that is bringing Bangladesh women out of poverty one silk garment at a time); and was able to ask Jason McBriarty, the Director of Global Community Affairs for Levi Strauss nagging questions surrounding cause marketing and engaging consumers specifically in regards to the Waterless campaign.  I also examined the future of sustainability in business with leaders from Kiva, Microsoft, Best Buy, The National Parks Service, Honest Tea and many like-minded undergraduate and MBA students from across the country.

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Levi’s Water>Less Campaign advertisement started in 2012.

The presentations and conversations provided me with layers of insight into the vague world of sustainable business and by Saturday’s closing ceremony I had come to realize that there might not be one exact answer to my question.  Sustainability takes many forms.  Sometimes it’s providing girls and women in Africa access to the Internet.  Sometimes it’s a certification to help companies measure what matters.  Sometimes it’s a marketing campaign that tells you not to wash your jeans.

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Intel global girls and women initiative. Karibu Centre, Kenya.

What intrigues me about integrating sustainability and business is that it’s open ended.  The Net Impact Conference excited me about the many options and helped me see that no matter what I decide to pursue after business school, I will have the opportunity to impact the world in a positive way.  There are countless ways to alleviate the issues facing our world.  ’Sustainable business’ just comes down to business that commits to lessen, rather than increase, those issues.  They pledge to use their power and influence as a force for good, inspiring myself and the other attendees of the Net Impact Conference to further these principles.

Written by Natalie

Natalie is a first year MBA student focusing on Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. She hopes to bring this passion to the organization she works for after completing her MBA. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

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From India to Eugene

Greetings everybody, I’m Harkanwal Sra and I’m a first-year in Center for Sustainable Business Practices. I’m from Punjab, India and I studied Electronics & Communications Engineering in my undergrad.

After graduating, I worked for Ericsson India Global Services Pvt. Ltd. for four years where I was responsible for operation and maintenance of the telecom network for Bharti Airtel, India’s biggest telecom services provider. During this time, I acquired good technical knowledge and also identified that I need to develop business skills in order to take my career to the next level. That is when I decided to do my MBA and shore up my business skills to complement my tech skills.

So, what prompted me to leave my family, friends, job, country and travel halfway across the world to US to pursue a green MBA?

Ever since my college days, I would read various reports and articles about pollution, climate change, ozone layer depletion etc. Sitting in my cozy home and later in my office in a city, I always wondered, “Is all of this really real?” As I started becoming worldly wise, I began to see the ill effects of these things back in my ancestral village and its nearby areas. Pollution, rapid industrialization, depleting water resources, deficient monsoon had started affecting the lives of people. The once prosperous region has become a pale shadow of itself. So, the issues of pollution, climate change, etc., cannot be ignored anymore. Somewhere something has to be done to get the things back on track.

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So, when I decided to do my MBA, I wanted to do it in a field that would help me play a role in rebuilding what has been destroyed. So when I started researching MBA programs, I found the UO’s Sustainable Business Practices MBA program. I researched in-depth about the program and applied. The program offered me a chance to gain practical knowledge in the field of sustainability with its focus on experiential learning from the professors who have seen it all and done it all. Finally, I had found a program that would help me do something worthwhile with the knowledge and skills that I would gain through it.

It has now been eight weeks since the program started and I haven’t been disappointed. The program has taken me on exposure trips to Portland and the Net Impact Conference in Minneapolis. While there, I was exposed to what various organizations are doing to make a positive change in the life of people and what they’re doing to make the world a safer, cleaner and better place for the next generation to live in.

The journey so far has not only been about learning sustainable business skills but also about self-discovery. Everyday I discover some sort of skill that I never knew existed in me before. I have learnt how to cook, survive in the cold & wet conditions in Eugene. Over the course of the next two years, I hope to continue to learn more and more not only about sustainable business but also about myself and hope to make a positive change in the life of people.

Written by Harkanwal Sra

Harkanwal Sra is a first year student in Center of Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). Prior to joining the program here, he worked as First level Assurance Engineer for Ericsson India Global Services in India. After graduating, he hopes to pursue a career helping organizations develop business practices that achieve a sustainable competitive advantage while making a positive impact on both society and the environment.

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The Environmentalist’s Dilemma

One of the best things about being a runner is that I get to be (have to be) outside everyday. Rain or shine; in my hometown or halfway across the world. I have gone to the tops of mountains, seen beautiful sunsets, traversed muddy trails, and viewed pristine lakes. Because of this, nature has always held extreme value in my mind and it kills me to think that someday this beauty will look very different.

This is what moved me toward sustainable business and ultimately led me to the Net Impact conference. It was immediately clear that most people there were brought there by passion like mine, motivated by a deep love for something they wanted to protect or improve. It was incredibly inspiring for me to see all the positive things people have done. There is a certain adrenaline rush that comes from being surrounded by people who share similar passions like this. It’s a very similar feeling to the one I get after doing well in a race at a big track meet. In both situations, there is a process to learning how to contain and properly channel these emotions. You want to keep the buzz of energy going to ‘go forth and produce good’, but if you come on too strong, you will burn yourself out and/or just turn people away from your cause rather than draw them to it.

As someone fairly new to the specifics behind sustainable business concepts, I learned many things at the conference that shocked me and changed my views on everything from what I ate and how I traveled to how I felt about modern conveniences. I wanted to stop drinking milk, stop eating beef and chicken, stop driving my car, stop taking showers and tell the rest of America that they should too….but before I did all that, I had to get home to Oregon…..3.5 hr plane ride (.19 metric tons CO2), 2.5 hr van ride (.04 metric tons C02), 4 plastic plane cups, packaged airport sandwiches, half dozen paper hand towels, etc…..

What place do I have to talk about how America should be more sustainable?!

This has to be something that every new cause advocate goes through. How do you jump into a conversation this big without seeming like a hypocrite for living normally in this society? Sure, you could just go and have a carbon negative life as a hermit in the woods but how would that help educate others or change how the world operated as a whole? It wouldn’t.

Throughout the conference, I tried to take note of how the most effective individuals approached these issues. What I learned was that these people chose the topic that they felt strongest about and pushed hard for it while at the same time chipping away little by little at everything else.  Being persistent and consistent but generally flying under the radar a little bit on the peripheral items. Like other concepts in business, sometimes you have to give before you receive. Spend a little carbon in order to meet people in the society of today to gain their trust and attention before sharing what you know and how you feel about the changes that can be made. At Net Impact, I learned that you don’t have to always be a radical or a hypocrite or the best person in the world or the worst but if you truly care about something you can make a difference.

Written by bfranek@uoregon.edu

Bridget was a 2012 Olympian in track and field and will be graduating from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center this December. She originally returned to get her MBA in hopes of better understanding the business side of sports and maximize her experience as a professional athlete. While at Oregon, she learned about the opportunities in sustainable business and has been inspired to figure out a way to use her background in sports as a platform for environmental improvement and social good.