International Sustainability – How Traveling Around the World Impacts You at Home

This week I traveled the world digitally and dove into the environmental advancements and sustainability initiatives that are occurring in other countries.

EUROPE: Focus on Energy

I started off my tour in Europe and, unsurprisingly, the two countries that kept popping up as having advancements in sustainability were Denmark and Germany. While there are a variety of initiatives that the countries are looking into, there seemed to be a focus on energy. Recently, a new Danish wind turbine broke world records for energy production in a 24 hour period. This will allow for lower costs for wind energy as fewer turbines will need to be constructed. Wind energy is set to be a large part of Denmark’s plan to become fossil fuel free by 2050.

Germany has partnered with Sweden to install “electric roads.” These highways would allow freight trucks to transport goods long distances and still be fueled by electricity instead of gas. This would not only reduce the amount of emissions from these trucks but would also create an entirely sustainable process if the electricity is produced from renewable resources.

It will be interesting to see if these technologies can make it across the Atlantic to the United States. Think about how many homes the large windmill could provide energy. Imagine our interstates becoming electrified so that the transportation of goods becomes significantly more sustainable. The US should monitor the success of these innovative approaches and look for areas where we could one day implement these new technologies.

ASIA: Olympics have an Impact

I next moved onto Asia, and most information I found there in relation to sustainable business practices was about China and Japan. A common thread between the two is the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in both countries. China is focused on making as many sustainable choices as possible while Japan is collecting used electronics in order to make the Olympic medals.

China is reusing previous arenas in order to decrease the impact the Winter Olympics have on its environment. They also commit to building any new structures with sustainability in mind, using energy reducing technology whenever possible. In addition, any energy that is used for electricity, transportation, and operations will be solar or electric.

Japan’s innovative approach to creating the Olympic medals shows how creativity is important to sustainability. Most people would not look at an out of date cell phone and think it would one day become a gold medal, but someone did. This pioneering idea will hopefully remove 8,000 tons of used electronics from the waste stream.

This type of thinking, reusing what you already have, is the key to sustainability. Why build something new when something you already have will make do?

AUSTRALIA:  Renewables for All

There are the same number of solar panels in Australia as there are people in Australia. This is one of the big reasons why 2017 is set to be a huge year for Australia in terms of renewable energy projects. They are set to increase their renewable capacity by 2,250MW by the end of the year. In addition to these projects, 50% of Australian households are currently considering solar energy and storage.

Australia is breaking into the renewables sector and is going strong. While they may not compare to Germany or Denmark’s success, they are showing improvement and are sure to catch up soon. What if 50% of American households were considering solar? How can we get our country to this spot?

AFRICA: New Tech, New Solutions

Africa is extremely diverse in its levels of sustainability, depending on which country you visit. Some are just starting out while others have a pretty solid footing in the sector. One of the countries that seems to be making strides in coming up with new environmental technology is South Africa.

Scientists from a South African university have discovered a low-cost, low-tech way to filter water. Charcoal made from Eucalyptus can successfully filter out a significant number of toxins from water runoff. While this solution does not necessarily make the water potable, it can be used on runoff from farms to decrease the number of chemicals and pollutants that enter the ecosystem. The beauty of this fix is the low cost. Many people think that technology is the future and that to have clean water you are going to have to come up with advanced systems to do so, but this process in South Africa proves that is not the case.

The country is also opening a plant to turn waste into energy. They are going to burn their waste to create electricity and reduce the amount that goes into landfills. While this is not a new idea, it tends to be looked down upon, as it is believed that it would cause more pollution to enter the atmosphere through burning than it would save. This was one of the main concerns when this idea was proposed to a Massachusetts neighborhood and was a main factor in the refusal of the project. Since then, the EPA has actually refuted this idea and says that for each ton of waste burned a ton of GHGs do not enter the atmosphere.

While they may not seem like the fanciest technologies, these two innovations have the chance to have significant impacts. If American farmers started using charcoal to reduce pollution from runoff it would have a great impact on our environment. Burning waste might be a bit harder to sell on a residential level and I do not believe American society is quite ready to accept this technology. If advancements in capturing the emissions from this tech occur we may be able to move it to America.

SOUTH AMERICA: Entering into the Fray

South America was my last stop for the week, making it full circle back to the Western hemisphere. A common theme when exploring sustainability here was that there is a lot of untapped potential in South America.

Brazil has a chance to be a global leader in carbon reduction as it is currently one of the major producers. Its economy is growing, so there is room for new technology and new initiatives to take root and help reduce Brazil’s carbon emissions.

South America is one of the continents most heavily impacted by deforestation and yet there is a $200 billion annual opportunity for deforestation-free investments. If the supply chains for beef, palm oil, soy, and paper can become sustainable, it has the chance to reduce the world’s GHG emissions by 10%. This is a huge area of potential growth for South America.

Americans should support South American countries’ sustainability initiatives and potentially learn from them as well. American companies could have a huge impact if they would trace their supply chains and ensure that materials are being sourced deforestation-free. This would not only decrease the impact on the environment but also improve the economy.

My biggest takeaway for the week was that while we might not all be on the same level, we are all moving forward in our sustainability goals, and that gives me hope for the future.

Written by Llyswen Berna

Llyswen is a 2018 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. She is a motivated individual with extensive leadership experience and a passion for sustainability. Most recently, she worked on the quality assurance team at Epic, a top healthcare software company. Before that, she was an AmeriCorps volunteer, where she advised low-income students about getting into and through college. At Oregon, Llyswen plans to build on her skills in project management and sustainable business practices. After graduation, she’s interested in consulting with companies and nonprofits to develop sustainable business strategies.

A Breakdown of WIB’s Bay Area Site Visit

A Quick Overview

While thousands of UO students completed their finals and promptly rushed home for the holidays, 15 eager Women in Business (WIB) members opted for a little adventure instead. These students packed their bags – with business casual attire, of course – and embarked on an eye-opening journey throughout the Bay Area where they were able to explore a variety career opportunities available to women today.

Thanks to LinkedIn, some very supportive UO alumni, and our dedicated executive board the 15 of us were able to participate in employee-run discussion panels and in tours of companies ranging from Pinterest to Google to AKQA and more. Over the course of five days, we got to connect with women from a variety of careers and educational backgrounds who were more than happy to answer questions and share their wisdom and experiences with us. Our group learned about the myriad of jobs in data analysis, finance, creative directing, risk mitigation, and business management while, at the same time, learning about presentation and negotiation skills that aid in landing those jobs.

Hearing dozens of success stories from women who live in one of the most male-centric areas in the U.S. was a very empowering experience. Although Silicon Valley is widely known for under-representing women and for fostering a sexist culture, women continue to push back against the discrimination and bias that persists in the workplace today. The general consensus from the women panelists was that when trying to overcoming gender bias, the most appropriate way to fight back is by working hard, being professional, and knowing your own worth.

The trip highlighted the necessity for women to encourage and support one another. That’s what WIB is all about!


Taking It Day By Day

Sunday, December 11

After landing in San Jose and getting settled into our hotel the previous night, we resolved to spend our only “free” day exploring the big, bad city of San Francisco. We spent the first part of our day walking along the Golden Gate Bridge, checking out the scenery, and taking an unspeakable amount of pictures.

You know, typical tourist stuff.

Then we decided to head to Mission Dolores Basilica – the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco – where one of WIB’s very own executive board members, Giselle Andrade, spent her childhood. Our group gained new insight into the history and culture of San Francisco as we took a guided tour of the church and cemetery. After one too many ghost stories, we decided it was time to move on to the next item on the agenda.

We hopped on BART and headed to Union Station later that afternoon for a little bit of shopping. The plaza was filled with great smells, beautiful architecture, and a swarming crowd of people enjoying themselves. After splitting up for a few hours, our group met back up in front of Macy’s 80 foot tall Christmas tree. We snapped a few group photos and, with that, concluded our first day of the Bay Area site visit!

Monday, December 12

The first company visit took place at Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco. We were invited by UO alumni Amy Gilmer who has been working as a creative strategist for Pinterest for a little under a year. After helping ourselves to a catered breakfast – which is only one of three free meals that employees are provided daily – we sat down with Amy and three of her colleagues to discuss what it’s like to work at Pinterest.

The rapidly growing web and mobile application company values creativity, diversity, innovation, and teamwork. The women unanimously agreed on the staff and company culture being their favorite part of the job. They also mentioned plenty of opportunities for growth within the company as well as opportunities for internal job changes and travel. What’s not to love?

Naturally, the next question must be: How exactly does one land a job at Pinterest? The panelists attributed their career success to the power of networking, relevant work experience, and higher education. All of the women we spoke to had completed either a bachelor’s or master’s degree and all but one had been backed by a recommendation from within the company. After imparting a few more words of wisdom and giving us a quick tour of their beautiful workspace, the kind panelists headed back to work and we set off for our next adventure.

After a 15 minute walk, our group arrived at the headquarters of an international ideas innovation company named AKQA. WIB was invited by UO alumni and former WIB member Catlin Bowers who manages a four-person team that works on a variety of projects for different companies and firms.

The panel of female employees included a creative director, a contract writer, an experiential data analyst, a design strategist, and a recruiter who all earned their positions through higher education and related experience. These women have worked to create iconic experiences and products for big name brands like Nike, Apple, and Visa. And although the panelists only comprised a tiny fraction of AKQA’s 2,000 employees they managed to give us valuable insight on what it’s like to work for a giant media firm.

Tuesday, December 14

Our first stop of the day was in Levi’s Plaza which houses the headquarters of multi-billion dollar company Levi Straus & Co. Our group was invited by UO alumni Rosita Rerat who works as a marketing manager in the San Francisco office. On the panel was Rosita and four of her female colleagues who work in a variety of departments from finance, operations, and risk mitigation to creative services and ecommerce. To help us determine if we were interested in a certain career field, they each went in depth about what their individual job entails and then ran through a typical day on the job.

When asked about their favorite part of working at LS&C, the women acknowledged that the positive company culture is a big part of what keeps them around. The company’s values encourage social and environmental responsibility and also promote open access to superiors including their very own CEO! Of course, there are other perks that keeps LS&C’s turnover rate relatively low including the opportunity for growth and development within the company as well as for new experiences through travel. Unfortunately we were not able to tour the corporate office, however the panel discussion had more than made up for it!

A short walk later our group reached San Francisco’s Financial District, the city’s main central business district which houses the headquarters of Wells Fargo. We were welcomed by a panel of 5 women who work in Wells Fargo’s financial and managerial departments. The panelists briefly described their responsibilities within the company and then focused the discussion on work life balance and sexism in the workplace.

The women were very honest with us, admitting that work isn’t always exciting and there are some days when they aren’t exactly thrilled to come in. But, they said, it’s okay to feel bored with your job sometimes! There is plenty of opportunity for excitement outside of the workplace. In regards to a question about dealing with sexism in a male-dominated environment, the panelists advised us to always be professional, to communicate frequently and clearly, and to work really hard. After wrapping up with the Wells Fargo employees, we visited the Fisherman’s Warf and the Ghirardelli chocolate factory before calling it a night.

Wednesday, December 15

We were fortunate enough to be able to squeeze in one last company visit before flying back to Eugene. WIB was invited to tour the Googleplex by UO alumni and former WIB member Kelly Weiss who manages a team of software engineers at Google. Kelly gave us a tour of the corporate office and its amenities which included gyms and restaurants that are free to employees. Afterwards, we sat down with Kelly and asked her questions about how she’d landed a job at Google, what she talked about in her interviews, what she majored in at UO, etc.

Kelly had worked as a manager at Frito Lay prior to landing a job at Google. She was fortunate to have a friend within the company because she was offered an interview through the recommendation. During her interview Kelly talked about experiences related to her marketing degree and also about her commitment to WIB as an executive board member. Sure enough, she got a call back a few days later! She mentioned that because Google does not pigeonhole their employees by forcing them into a job based solely on their degree, her career took an unanticipated but welcome turn. Instead of working in advertising like she’d imagined, Kelly’s job as a technical channels specialist is to discover software engineer superstars and untapped talent in hard-to-reach places. She absolutely loves her job and is grateful for the opportunity to work for a company that has such a vast and meaningful impact on the world. After spending the afternoon with us, Kelly had to get back to scouting the world for gifted individuals and us WIB girls had a plane to catch.

While waiting for departure our group talked about how beneficial this experience had been for us as women preparing ourselves for careers in business. The trip opened our eyes to jobs we’d never heard about and subsequently helped many of us narrow down our career interests. The site visit was also a great networking opportunity for those potentially interested in working for Pinterest, AKQA, Levi’s, Wells Fargo, or Google. One of the company’s even asked for our resumes and two offered internships!

I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my winter break than hanging out with my WIB family! Thanks to everyone for making it such a memorable experience!

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Green Buildings: Bridging Health and Sustainability

I joined the 2018 MBA cohort in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices with a passion for the intersection of health and sustainability. The  connection between these two fields is not always obvious, and I would like to share some interesting highlights of  what I have learned and why it matters.

We often think of reducing resource consumption as a key part of sustainable management. According to the EPA, in the United States, buildings account for 39% of total energy use, 12% of the total water consumption, 68% of total electricity consumption, and 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions. Add to this that average Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Green buildings have emerged as a way to reduce resource consumption, and it turns out these buildings also improve human health! How can this be possible?

Let’s start by looking at what green building is. According to the US Green Building Council:

“The definition of green building: Green building is a holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as the people who inhabit buildings every day.”

The first part of that definition represents what we typically think – that green buildings are about energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and other environmental improvements. What I would like to focus on is the second part of the definition, the impact of green buildings on human health.

Recent studies suggest that working in a green building has measurable positive effects on cognitive performance, productivity, sleep quality, stress reduction, and overall wellness. Specifically, the COGfx Study found that cognitive testing scores doubled in LEED Certified green buildings. They coined the term “Buildingomics” and defined it as “a new approach that examines the totality of factors in the building-related environment that influence the human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in buildings” (

This relatively new school of thought has led to many companies implementing green workplaces in order to experience these health and productivity benefits, either by remodeling current facilities or ensuring new facilities are built with this in mind. For example, healthcare non-profit Kaiser Permanente has embraced this trend, working with AECOM on a hospital project in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon they built their first LEED Certified campus. It is not surprising healthcare organizations are eager to incorporate these projects, but beyond healthcare, The Society for Human Resource Management writes about the benefits of green buildings too, citing they can reduce sick leave, regulate both temperatures and noise, and remove air toxins ( ForHealth has created the diagram below to illustrate the overlap of green buildings and healthy inhabitants.

Health is inexorably linked with sustainability. Yet, there is a tendency to think about the green movement on a macro level without understanding how it will impact each one of us. What I like about this recent study is that it provides concrete evidence for how one specific sustainability initiative – green buildings – has directly impacted human cognition and productivity.

So, why does this matter? The World Green Building Council sums it up well. “How do we accelerate energy efficient, environmentally sustainable, green building? We make it about people.” There is already strong environmental support behind the green movement, and now we can add another reason to get behind green efforts, and it’s something nearly everyone can rally for – our health!  Green buildings illustrate how health and sustainability can be neatly integrated, and remind us that increasing the number of people who are behind green initiatives will help guarantee a healthy environment for present and future generations.

Sources:  (photo cred collage photo 1) (photo cred collage photo 2) (photo cred collage photo 3)

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

Get Crafty to Shape Your Career

Stagnant. Unmotivated. Unfulfilled. Frustrated. Underutilized.

These feelings can be common for many during their working careers. However, if someone would have told me when I started my career years ago that I would feel these disheartening emotions and lose many nights of sleep while still working for a company that I so greatly admired, I wouldn’t have believed them.

In my early twenties, I began working at a small marketing agency/consultancy. I loved the organization’s culture from the start, enjoyed their line of work, believed in their product they produced and quickly felt a bond with my colleagues. I was itching to learn anything and everything, contribute significantly, excel rapidly and make big moves in my career.

The learning curve was great for my Account Manager role and I was afforded tremendous responsibilities, was assigned accounts with quite a few very renowned clients, and traveled all over the country for stakeholder meetings. For all of which, I am truly grateful.

Overtime however, the allure of the job diminished as the organization restructured and my role changed within it. A position that was previously fulfilling had now become lackluster. While I still believed strongly in the mission of the company and was pleased with its new overall direction, I also felt stuck and highly-unmotivated within an organization where I once experienced extensive opportunity and growth.

During this time of low motivation and unhappiness, I had my first, full encounter with job crafting, “the process of employees redesigning their own jobs to better suit their strengths and interests” (Wrzesniewski, 2010), while shaping their job tasks to better align with their personal values and goals. Job crafting is highly important as it can reengage employees, create more happiness among staff over time and in turn increase performance (Wrzesniewski, 2014). Implementing a consistent job crafting process is also a positive way to find what motivates employees and encourages them to take ownership of their work and purpose while becoming resilient. “In order to reengage employees and make them happy within the workplace, it requires that the employee be doing something meaningful and can get lost in their work on a daily basis” (Pinsker, 2016). Allowing each employee to craft a job that is meaningful for them specifically, is necessary for the success of an organization.

Throughout my last year with the company, I looked to build my experience in different areas to create a more fulfilling work environment by requesting to be involved with different client accounts from industries that aligned more with my values, built stronger relationships with all employees within the small company, and asked to attend meetings that would help me be more strategic within my position. With support from upper management and my colleagues, these efforts helped to boost my morale. However, without a solid job crafting plan in place and knowledge of how to specifically form one, these efforts eventually fell flat and I felt I had no other option than to leave the company for new endeavors.

Now as an MBA student reflecting on that experience, I can’t help but wonder if the scenario could have been different. Was this simply a situation of reaching a natural growth threshold within a company? Could I personally have done more to change my immediate working environment? With this new knowledge of job crafting, what would I tell my previous self?

  1. Identify your own motives, strengths, and passions and revisit them consistently. Self-awareness is key.
  2. Visualize your job, map its elements, and reorganize it to better suit you (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  3. Find opportunities for work that also add value to others (Valcour, 2013).
  4. Explicitly document your job crafting plans. Write them down, make them tangible (Valcour).
  5. Build trust with managers and solicit their support specifically for your job crafting plans (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  6. Specifically assess the three core aspects of work, Task Crafting, Relationship Crafting, and Cognitive Crafting, and formulate a plan to move forward with these in mind (Wrzesniewski):


  1. Have a solid understanding of the relevance of your work to the overall mission of the business. Recognize chances to use your skills and expertise to make a positive contribution.
  2. Refrain from completing work that you ‘should’ do and instead do the work you choose to do. (Livne-Tarandach, 2016).

While I didn’t experience a desired result initially, I do know that I’m now better equipped to more effectively job craft in the future when I’ll be back in the career world one day soon, in hopes for a more successful outcome.


This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Kelsey

Kelsey is a 2018 MBA from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. She spent most of her career in marketing project and account management with a diverse client base from both corporate and government sectors. After graduation, she aspires to evoke positive social change through creatively enhancing and building innovative sport brands, products and organizations that serve the greater good.

“You’re getting an MBA to work in…Video Games?”

My mother has been a patient and understanding woman when it comes to me, her oldest of three sons. When it took me nearly seven years to finish my undergraduate degree, she gave me nothing but unconditional love and support. Two years later, when I told her I was going to law school, she was my biggest cheerleader. When I moved across the country to work for the United States Senate, she gave me a big hug and told me to go make a difference. But when I told her last spring that I was leaving the practice of law to pursue my MBA in Sports Business at the University of Oregon and that I wanted to work in eSports, or professional video game competitions, I think even she will admit that her resolve started to waiver.

Was this some sort of early 30’s crisis? Maybe some form of pathological avoidance? Or is it simply the next step in a vast conspiracy to deprive her of grandchildren? The answer, as it turns out, was much simpler. I have had two life-long passions: sports and video games. And with the meteoric rise in popularity and viability of eSports, for the first time I had finally found an industry that could blend those passions and give me a career I could not only excel at, but also be truly enthusiastic about. But did I really need an MBA from Oregon to work in this?

In a word, yes. Today, eSports boasts a community of over 250 million viewers and hosts tournaments that now regularly offer prize pools in the high-seven or even eight figures. Championship matches draw viewership numbers that exceed the Stanley Cup Final. Mainstream brands such as T-Mobile, Coke, Arby’s, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Bull and others are major sponsors of multiple events and broadcasts. Even traditional professional sports teams have taken notice, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic having already invested in eSports teams, and others such as the Dallas Cowboys actively interested in entering the space.

eSports is going mainstream, and those teams, developers, and sponsors are going to begin expecting expertise in not only gaming, but also in business.  Knowing the difference between an AP Carry and a Jungler is well and good, but knowing the difference between endemic and non-endemic brands and how to create value for both in an emerging market is how you’re really going to impress and get noticed in the gaming world these days. As I’ve learned, studying Sports Marketing under a Vice President of Club Services for Major League Soccer is much more likely to get you noticed by Riot or Blizzard than a Diamond or Master level player ranking.

When I told Warsaw Program Manager Craig Leon during my MBA interview that I wanted to work in eSports, he smiled and told me, “You know, if you had come here even two years ago, I probably would have told you we weren’t the place for you; but now? Let’s do it.” I didn’t know it at the time, but those words would profoundly change my life, almost universally for the better.

My mom still doesn’t quite understand what I’m trying to do in my career; despite having three gamer sons, she never got past Frogger. But she knows that her boy is happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic about this path he’s on at the Oregon MBA than she’s heard him in a long time. And, at the end of the day, that is all a mother can ask for…well, that and maybe grandchildren.

Written by Justin Surber

Justin is a 2018 MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center focused on eSports. His background is primarily in law and politics, where he worked as an attorney and interned in the United States Senate prior to giving in to his love of sports and video games. Before coming to Oregon, Justin graduated from Linfield College with a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and received his Juris Doctorate with Honors from Willamette University College of Law. Outside of school, Justin enjoys tennis, reading, trying a new craft brewery, and all the joys and pitfalls of being a dog parent.