Katie Clark

Sports + CSR

Recently I joined the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center on their experiential learning trip to NYC. This included visits to ESPN, the NFL, the NBA and the New York Road Runners. Since I was the only student from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices on these visits, I thought discussing what corporate social responsibility means in the world of sports would be an interesting blog post.

In a session on sustainability reporting at the SXSW Eco Conference 2015 that I attended last year, Tim Mohin said that companies should measure and report on the impact areas that are most relevant to their business. For professional sports teams and leagues, this means focusing on youth, community, and physical and mental health.

In case you live under a rock or don’t follow the latest sports gossip, the NFL has come under fire in the last few years due to some high-profile domestic violence cases amongst key players. In response, the NFL has introduced numerous initiatives to address domestic violence with players and in the community. While the NFL would tell you that this is part of their commitment to social responsibility, I would argue that this is simply good PR.

Missing from the conversations this week, however, was a discussion of the environmental impacts of professional sports games. These games require substantial electricity and generate large amounts of waste, but managing these impacts often falls on the stadiums themselves. And most of the time, stadiums don’t even have recycling bins. To improve corporate social responsibility in the professional sports industry, teams and leagues should partner with their home stadiums to decrease their environmental impact.

The San Francisco 49ers are a perfect example of how a professional team can address both social and environmental responsibility. Their brand new Levi’s stadium is LEED Gold certified and is the first to utilize recycled water for field irrigation and other essential stadium functions. According to an article by the Green Sports Alliance, “the cooperation between the 49ers and local government and other organizations shows that strong partnerships can help to conserve natural resources and set new environmental standards for sports venues.”

stadiumview

The 49ers stadium is touted as the greenest stadium in the NFL

Experiential learning trips with my cohort are always eye opening, and I’m glad I had this opportunity to dig deeper into what CSR means in the sports industry.

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

Lights, Camera, Quacktion

This past spring, I had the fun opportunity to be the Oregon IMG_3495MBA “talent” (that’s film lingo, I learned, for actor or actress) in the pilot episode of a web series called Ducks in the Wild for the Oregon MBA Program with alum Guru Khalsa, the Environmental Corporate Responsibility Manager at Columbia Sportswear. To produce a seven-minute video, Guru and I logged over 20 hours of screen time in downtown Portland, at Columbia Sportswear’s headquarters in Beaverton, and in Eugene. The experience was exhausting but highly entertaining. I really hoped the production company would release a blooper reel, but since that doesn’t look promising, I thought I’d share some insider secrets from the set of the webinar.

When you watch the video, one of the first questions you’ll have within the first few minutes is: did Katie bike from Portland to Eugene? I may be athletic, but I’m not that intense. The filming of the opening segment at my Biking UO campus Eugeneapartment in Eugene didn’t actually take place until two weeks after Guru and I wrapped in Portland!

To get the shot of Guru and I biking side by side down the streets of Portland, we had to ride at about 2 MPH behind a small SUV while the cinematographer practically hung out of the back of the moving vehicle. We rode up and down the same straightaway at least 15 times! No wonder Guru reminded me to bring my helmet.

We had to shoot the scene of Guru and I walking into Columbia over 10 times because we kept running into each other, forgetting to stop on our marks, blocking each out from camera view, and forgetting what we were supposed to say!Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.50.10 PM

And yes, I have seen potatoes before. That was one scene I hoped would be in the blooper reel but not the final cut!

I had an absolute blast filming this episode, and also made a wonderful professional connection with Guru. Being one of the Oregon MBA “talents” for the Ducks in the Wild video series, will likely remain one of the highlights of business school.

Check out the full Ducks in the Wild Episode #1 

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

From Cal Bear to Oregon Duck: Highlights from San Francisco

Earlier this month, the entire first-year MBA cohort had the opportunity to spend the first week of April in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting with top executives in a wide variety of companies.

In just four days, we met with Levi Strauss, Blackrock, Strava, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve, Farmland LP, Capital One, LinkedIn, Google, Women’s Startup Lab, Interwest Partners, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, RSF Social Finance, Clif Bar and Sierra Nevada Brewery! We also had a little time to explore downtown San Francisco, take pictures under the Golden Gate Bridge, and spend the evening playing in the Exploratorium.

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

While I was excited to get insight into the inner workings of some incredibly successful companies, I was also thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area for the first time in a few years. I did my undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was eager to show my new friends around all of my old favorite spots in the city.

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

 

It would be hard to pick my favorite experience from our week in the Bay, but I was able to narrow it down to a list of my top three:

  1. Clif Bar

Going in to the trip, Clif Bar was the company that I was most excited to visit, and the office tour did not disappoint. Between the rock-climbing wall in the employee gym, bike parts repurposed as door handles, an endless supply of snack bars, and a program that allows employees to volunteer for an unlimited number of paid hours, it would be hard not to want a job at Clif. Our group was lucky enough to meet with the CFO, who shared stories about what it was like to work for the company 15 years ago when the CEO turned down a $120 million offer and decided to keep Clif Bar private. As far as authentic companies go, Clif Bar is the real deal.

  1. RSF Social Finance

One of the primary benefits of the experiential learning trips is the opportunity to be exposed to an array of companies in many different industries. While I am not personally interested in a career in impact investing, I really enjoyed learning about RSF Social Finance. RSF is a nonprofit financial services organization dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. The visit with RSF drew together the interests of all three centers (finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability) in attendance, as we had the chance to talk about social responsibility, financial analysis, and innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.

  1. Net Impact Meet Up

My third and final highlight of the trip was our meet up at UC-Berkeley’s graduate chapter of Net Impact, a nonprofit organization of students and professionals dedicated to using business skills for social and environmental causes. On Tuesday night, students from our chapter at UO met with students from the chapter at UC-Berkeley. We compared professional interests, internship prospects, and our plans for the Net Impact conference in Seattle, Washington in November. Of course, we also told stories about our experiences in grad school and laughed over local brews. This highlight might be biased, but it was eye-opening to see my college campus through the eyes of my new friends.

Despite feeling slightly nostalgic for my college days in Berkeley (who isn’t nostalgic for their alma mater), my biggest takeaway from San Francisco was a renewed appreciation for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. The experiential learning trips are just one of the many benefits of the Oregon MBA, and I feel really lucky to have a cohort full of intelligent, passionate, collaborative and enthusiastic students with which I can share these trips. Until next time, San Francisco!

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.