The Sound of Sustainability

The modern symphonic orchestra is perhaps the greatest musical instrument ever invented. The cacophony of strings, winds, brass, and percussion is realized through proper preparation that includes all contracted musicians having practiced their fair share, full orchestral rehearsals, production coordination on stage, marketing, strategic planning, fundraising, and an audience to witness the final product. The conductor is the glue, the facilitator of the performance, responsible for interpreting the often-timeless compositions that were written over 100 years ago. She or he is responsible for the tempo, the balance, and the phrasing that is often nitpicked by critics to be too fast, too slow, to the extent that this interpretation is an insult to the classical music tradition.

You may be wondering what a symphony has to do with sustainable business practices. An organization has several moving parts and without proper coordination the core products may diminish in quality or the intended messaging of the product may not reach the target market. For example, if the marketing department is not in constant communication with R&D which is not in touch with legal, productivity is lost, financial growth potential is minimized, customer loyalty is diminished, and valuable resources are wasted. As businesses realize that incorporating social and environmental values within their mission leads to profitability, it becomes even more important for companies and departments to play in sync.

In my opinion, a business with mature sustainability practices functions akin to a nearly perfect performance of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, From The New World. And that is no easy feat. Each of the players has the responsibility to uphold their commitment to the rest of the ensemble, or else the entire collective can fall apart. In business, each employee and each department have a very specific duty to perform. The operations team requires precise control over its supply chain. And if a supplier is late, that can create backorders, and the marketing team needs to communicate with the unsatisfied customers…

Check out the final movement of The New World Symphony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHqtJH2f1Yk

Note that during a section or instrumentalist solo, the rest of the orchestra is in tune with the soloist, literally and figuratively. Each of the sections understands when it’s time to play in the foreground, and when to be the support in the background. The conductor guides all of the performers. However, even if the conductor were absent from the scene, the orchestra would still be able to perform since each of the players is so well prepared. In an organization, the CEO and full executive team have the responsibility – I’ll spare the reader from belaboring the analogy…

A couple of weeks ago, I took over the University of Oregon’s Center for Sustainable Business Practices social media accounts and focused on the social benefits of renewable energy. A few notable mentions include the increase in jobs, stronger communities, and vast health benefits for regions that invest in renewables.

The sustainability revolution is here, and we are just starting to see new clean energy business models take shape through partnership flips and virtual power plants. It is imperative that organizations, startups and corporates, that have a mission which involves social and environmental advocacy and action, coordinate their various functions as if every day is a nearly perfect performance of The New World Symphony.

Written by nzolan

Ness has 10 years of operations and fundraising experience working with non-profits in the performing arts. He has held the roles of General Manager for the Eugene Symphony and Associate Producer for the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Ness has worked with many politicians and celebrities but cares more about how many people he can convince to take up pogo sticking as a hobby, for the physical and mental benefits. Through the Oregon MBA, Ness is studying sustainability, innovation, strategy and leadership. Ness loves all people and the planet and wants to continue his service to bettering our society and the environment through business practices.

Natural Products Expo West: Lessons from Outside the Classroom

In the United States the natural foods and products industry is never more celebrated that it is at Expo West. Natural Products Exposition West is an extravagant display of the veterans, the staples and the startups in the natural products world. Every March, the Anaheim Convention Center floods with over 85,000 attendees and all the product samples that you could ever wish for. As an event that is built for CPGs (Consumer Packaged Goods) and retailers, it is not often that students interested in the natural products space get to take advantage of the networking opportunities abound at such an event. Luckily for myself and a few other UOMBA students, MBArk has emerged as a program that not only sponsors MBAs from across the country to attend the conference, but also arranges meet and greets with C-suite executives of some of the biggest brands in the industry.

The Natural Products Industry has grown exponentially in the last decade as consumers become smarter and better informed. From plant-based sausage to the first cold-pressed baby food to hit the market, companies are answering consumer calls for better food, safer products, and more brand transparency. The call for brand transparency is something that I took from Expo West and turned into a project with a baby food company. Myself and a colleague are conducting a brand audit on this company’s sustainability messaging and we recently ran a focus group to deep-dive into consumers’ most pertinent concerns with personal health, planet health, and product transparency. We’ll be reporting on our findings and recommendations to the company and our branding class in just a couple weeks.

Ultimately, Expo West and the MBArk program was an enlightening experience. It was inspiring to see how many fellow MBAs from across the country are hoping to leverage their career to make better products to support a healthier population. Beyond creating and supporting brands and products, my cross-country peers are also considering the social, cultural, political, and economic barriers that keep many consumers from accessing healthier options in the first place. Within the Center for Sustainable Business here at the Lundquist College of Business we are challenged to think critically about the forces that contribute to inequality and how businesses and interdisciplinary partners can use their voice and power to change the status quo. Within the traditionally competitive environment of business school, I have found an immense eagerness to collaborate within my own program and across schools.

Written by Daryl Mogilewsky

Daryl is a 2019 MBA in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. She is a values-driven marketing and communications professional who is inspired by the complicated landscape of making the business case for doing good while doing well.

Logistics at the End of the World: Lessons from Afghanistan

Day 1 of 365.

Much of what I know about business and sustainability is from the perspective of the military.  For the last nine years, I have served on active duty as a Logistics Officer in the United States Army.  Over those years, I have worn many hats and held many important duties.  No matter the situation, three things remained of foremost importance: care for my people, care for our equipment and resources, and accomplishment of our mission.  It could be easy to think of each priority as independent of the other; in reality they are interdependent and essential.

Some of the most formative experiences occurred during my first deployment to Afghanistan.  At the time, I was part of a 1,300-person Task Force responsible for clearing roadside bombs across the southern half of the country. Within that mission, I ran a cell of logistics and supply liaisons at a major supply base, processing combat-damaged equipment, fielding of new technologies, and procuring specialty equipment to keep our people safe and make them more effective.

Obligatory combat gear selfie with my driver, Sergeant Netti before a mission.

About halfway through the deployment, Pakistan closed the G-LOC (“Gee-Lock”, short for Ground Line of Communication), a military transportation network linking our bases in land-locked Afghanistan with the Port of Karachi.  From that point forward, nearly all military materiel had to enter the country through a small handful of airports capable of receiving heavy cargo planes.  Overnight, fresh foods became scarce or disappeared altogether.  Availability of water, fuel, and other supplies decreased as volatility increased.  All costs went through the roof, and the impact of all supply-related decisions became much more significant and visible.  Every single gallon of diesel fuel held a total cost to the American taxpayer exceeding $45—if it was available at all.

File this under “Adventures in Afghan logistics.” Scenes like this were a common sight on Highway 1.

While the situation eventually stabilized and the GLOC reopened, the questions we guided our decisions by remain present in my mind.  What do we need? Why do we need it? Given constraints, what is most essential to the care of our people and accomplishment of our mission and how do we prioritize?

When I think about sustainable business practices, I think about those lessons and how a company could ask themselves the same kinds of questions.  How should we run our business, generating value for ourselves and our customers?  How can we use the resources we have – physical, human, capital — most efficiently?  Is what we’re doing sustainable – can it be repeated and consistent or are we purely extractive running people, natural resources, and the public trust through a corporate machine that vomits money into the pockets of investors and executives until it implodes?  Does it make sense to throw away money to inefficient buildings and fleets that run on an ever-dwindling supply of fossil fuels?

Some of my hard-working troops securing some locally-purchased light sets to improve our convoy staging areas.

This week, in my Social Media Takeover of the CSBP Twitter and Facebook, I return to my roots and start a conversation about sustainable logistics: how businesses and the public can benefit with changes in the shipping, trucking, and warehousing industries.  Finally, I take this story full circle, and show one way that United States Marines in southern Afghanistan are rapidly solving supply chain problems through tactical manufacturing.  Join the conversation on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oregongreenmba or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CSBP.UO

Written by jmyers8

Jared Myers is a 2018 MBA in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. He is also an active-duty Army officer with nine years of experience in maintenance, distribution, supply, and transportation. He is interested in reducing in increasing efficiencies, enabling performance, and decreasing negative impacts of military operations. Within Sustainability, he is interested in food, manufacturing, and clean energy. Outside of class, Jared enjoys outdoor activities and skydiving.

Takeaways from LEED GA Training

Last week a group of MBA students were given the opportunity to participate in a LEED Green Associate training by Leading Green. Many jumped at the chance to gain new skills and enhance their resume. I wanted to take a minute to share our experiences and explain why LEED is important.

What is LEED and why is it important?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system for green buildings created by the US Green Building Council. It can be used on all types of construction and provides a framework for healthy, efficient, and sustainable buildings. It is globally recognized and highly marketable, increasing the value of the building. LEED standards develop and grow over time and are approved by professionals within the industry.

It is important to note that a building can be LEED certified, but people can be accredited. The training we participated in was for the LEED GA accreditation. This is the foundational level of accreditation, which gives individuals an up to date understanding of green building practices.  Once you have earned your LEED GA, you can earn your LEED AP (advanced professional) and focus on a specific area within the rating system.

Attendee Reflections

I asked my fellow classmates to reflect on why they took this training and what they got out of it. A selection of their answers are below:

What are your professional goals?

Ian LeClair: I want to work in tech sector working on smart tech to improve energy efficiencies for large companies.

Rachael Caravone: I hope to work in an organization where I can help create solutions to make cities more livable. This requires a holistic view of energy, water, transportation, land use, and the built environment. Obtaining my LEED GA would give me another tool, and a better understanding of how systems thinking and sustainability in our buildings can help improve the livability in cities.

Aaron Bush: I’m currently exploring project management and consulting roles in renewable energy and the built environment. Having a strong understanding of LEED and other industry-leading practices or certifications will allow me to communicate more effectively across disciplines as well as take the lead on projects that involve construction and design.

Timothy Cohalan: My professional goal is to leverage the built environment to build community through sustainable real estate development.

Why were you interested in getting your LEED GA?

AB: The LEED Green Associate training and certification acts as a stamp showing my knowledge in a specific category. My experience in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon has provided a broad background on triple-bottom-line thinking, as well as factors influencing business behavior. However, because student interests are quiet broad, and sustainability every business category, the MBA program typically does not provide in-depth training or course material on individual topics. As a LEED Green Associate, I will have both broad knowledge and specific skills.

TC: The built environment is where most people spend the majority of their time.  It is also one of the largest consumers of energy and emitters of Green House Gases. Our building generally live longer lives then we do. That is why it is so important to get things right the first time.  As someone interested in shaping how we interact with our environment I want to make sure I am doing it the best way possible.  Getting my LEED GA accreditation is a great way to build my understanding of one of the most common pathway for that worldwide.

What piece of the training did you find most valuable?

IL: Being able to see how the training would fit into a future job workflow.

RC: I appreciated how the LEED certification process is tailored to the type of building or use, and the owner/developer can choose the options most relevant to their area or situation to gain points towards LEED certification. I was also pleasantly surprised about the evolution and updates made to the certification process.

AB: My view of LEED has always been that it is a certification centered around making buildings more energy efficient. I now understand that it is both wholistic and focused at the same time. LEED certification considers not only a building’s energy consumption, but also its ability to integrate with the greater environment and promote human wellbeing. For example, developers pursuing LEED are incentivized to build close to public transit and provide alternative modes of transportation. They get points for maintaining or improving nearby wetlands or other natural features. LEED takes into account human health by requiring proper ventilation and air quality. A LEED building is not just better for the environment, it is better for people.

TC: While I was familiar with the concepts of green building in general the training did an excellent job explaining how LEED breaks them down into categories and which categories were most emphasized.

What are your next steps in learning about the built environment?

RC: I would like to learn more about the LEED for Neighborhood Development certification too see how the process works for an entire community.

TC: As I continue in my career in real estate development I will look to industry leaders in green building for best practices. I will also learn more from the architects and contractors that I collaborate with.

Any other takeaways or pieces you would like to add?

AB: Our instructor, Lorne, explained that LEED is voluntary and typically surpasses standards set by local governments or typical industry practices. While LEED buildings often provide increased returns and higher market value compared to conventional buildings, they are still not the default option. I see huge opportunities to continue increasing best-practices and incorporate many of the most valuable lessons from LEED into a broader societal conversation about the built environment.

 

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.

Salesforce Starts with the ‘Why’

Simon Sinek, author of , ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’, says that for a company to be successful and truly innovative, they have to know their ‘why’.

A company I believe really ‘starts with the why’ is Salesforce. Looking at Salesforce from the outside, it is simply an IT company. Where Salesforce, and more notably CEO Mark Benioff, excel is explaining the why.

Benioff was quoted as saying, ‘The business of doing business is to improve the state of the world.[1]’ Benioff knows his ‘why’, which is making his business do more than maximize shareholder equity. It also has a genuine commitment to tackling some of the worlds largest social issues like equality, education, and children’s health. His commitment to equality can be seen from distributing 3 million dollars across the Salesforce company to close the pay gap between men and women[2]. Education has been at the forefront of its non profit division of Salesforce.org, where it partners with other non-profits, like Genesys Works, to help high school students from low level backgrounds equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college and a career[3]. Lastly, Benioff’s commitment to children’s health is unquestionable, donating $100 million dollars to found the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital[4].

All of the above examples prove how Benioff’s explanation of the ‘why’ improves the state of the world and gives Salesforce a competitive advantage. When a company’s mission goes above profits, it makes other businesses want to do business with a mission driven company. It also attracts more diverse and vested employees. Sinek stated that, ‘the goal is not to hire people who need a job, but to hire people who believe what you believe… Those that are in pursuit of riches are bound to fail. The people who believe in your organization are willing to work with blood, and sweat, and tears. The others just worked for the paycheck.’[5]

[1] https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/08/marc-benioff-decades-top-innovator-forbes.html

[2] http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/04/news/companies/salesforce-equal-pay-women/index.html

[3] http://www.genesysworks.org/model-impact/the-problem/

[4] https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/about/benioff/

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1081&v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Written by dbrandon

Duran is a 2018 MBA with the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. He is an experienced leader in change management with proven history of creating his own position within organizations. He is passionate about social sustainability and how businesses can use social initiatives to create a competitive advantage for the organization.