Natalie Colvin

3 snapshots into the Center for Sustainable Business Practices MBA tour to San Francisco

At the end of March, the Oregon MBA offers our spring experiential learning business tour to San Francisco. During the week-long visit students are able to network with companies around the bay area and gain perspective on their industry from a diverse set of professionals. In this post three Center for Sustainable Business Practices students provide a brief glimpse into a few of their favorite visits. Big thanks to the contributing authors.

Green Sport Alliance

By Ben Fields:

While on our experiential learning trip to San Francisco the we had the opportunity to meet with Erik Distler, Senior Resource Specialist with the Green Sport Alliance. We gathered with Erik on a sunny day in Yerba Buena Gardens. He was keen to explore our unique backgrounds and interests related to sustainability, as well as share both his professional background and the personal journey that took him from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC0 to the nonprofit world.

Erik described how his time in sustainable consulting at PwC gave him the tools to communicate the business arguments for sustainable business practices. His ability to not only present a business case for sustainable practices, but also help PwC’s clients communicate their stories around sustainability, enabled Erik to become an invaluable asset. This storytelling ability is what opened his opportunity with the Green Sports Alliance where he now brings sustainability to the sporting world and beyond through partnerships with ESPN. Erik related how he has seen demand grow and discussed future opportunities as the field continues to develop.

After listening to our stories, Erik described how stories from his journey with sustainable business could help us understand the landscape from a professional view. He provided unique prospective and insight to help us understand how to leverage our experience in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices to find our place in this changing climate of sustainable business. Meeting with Erik allowed us time for introspection about the opportunities in front of us and provided inspiration about what the future may hold.

Facebook

By Max Fleisher:

On Wednesday morning, March 30th, we braved the impossibly traffic-free 101 to visit with the Sustainability team at Facebook HQ. Our host was Lyrica McTiernan, Sustainability Manager, who was joined by Louisa Smythe McGuirk, Sustainability Analyst. Lyrica has been at Facebook for over 5 years, and has witnessed what she described as a “journey of maturity of understanding of sustainability at Facebook”. Louisa is primarily focused on metrics, measuring how FB is progressing on its sustainability goals. Her first project involved calculating Facebook’s carbon footprint, the 5th time such an assessment had been completed. The primary goal in doing the carbon footprint is identifying the most actionable items for the largest impact. Facebook currently does not do specific reporting like GRI, and the general consensus is the time and energy required is not worthwhile. The scope of carbon reporting is expanding as Facebook moves into consumer technology with their acquisition of Oculus.

Facebook Campus

Facebook Campus

Lyrica and Louisa walked us through their large (and growing) department, highlighting both the breadth and depth of the team, with key focuses of data center design, energy efficiency, and water use. These foci make sense given the sustainability team’s placement within the infrastructure department. Facebook is building a number of new wholly owned data centers, and Lyrica is involved with the design of the facilities to incorporate new technologies like swamp cooling to reduce energy and water use intensity. There is an overall goal at Facebook to reach 50% clean and renewable energy by 2018. Lyrica emphasized that this is only an interim goal, meant to be achievable in a reasonable timeframe. We were left with the tenet: “Sustainability is future proofing.”

Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

By Joey Jaraczewski:

On Thursday March 31st, the Oregon MBA had the good fortune to meet with the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB). SASB seeks to be the sustainable complement to the 10-K annual report by creating the standards by which public entities can measure and report their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) efforts. Put another way, where FASB standardizes how companies report their financial accounting, SASB standardizes how companies identify and report their sustainability track record. These standards provide information that is decision-useful and complementary to financial accounting information. Put another way, SASB is making an awesome contribution to the stewardship of people, planet, and financial returns.

The CSBP came to SASB at an amazing time. The day before our visit, SASB had released the last of eleven sets of provisional standards to the public, marking the end of a four-year process of creating and tinkering. SASB was proud to show off their Materiality Map which reporters could use to identify what to report. This Materiality Map is important for streamlining standards into the market.

These standards are coming to a receptive marketplace, as there is a clear trend towards more comprehensive reporting of ESG from the public and private sectors. In Europe, the EU is mandating that their member states report on ESG metrics. Meanwhile, in the United States, investors clamor for greater transparency and accuracy of corporate sustainability reporting. There are certainly hurdles ahead of SASB, however, the information that standards are trying to capture is crucial for markets to gain greater long-term efficiency. Indeed, many stakeholders across the value chain are coming to realize the importance of a company’s relationship with the environment and employees.

CSBP visits San Fransisco

The Center for Sustainable Business Practices MBA

The release of the provisional standards also represents an area of opportunity for MBA students through SASB certification in the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA). Achieving FSA Certification would be beneficial training for students that are considering careers in sustainability. Furthermore, holding certification creates a critical edge of expertise in a market clamoring to understand the role of ESG in investing.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.

What We’re Reading: The Oregon MBA’s list of most influential business books

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CREATIVE CONFIDENCE 

by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Why we love it: Everyone has a creative side and it’s important to learn to tap into our creative powers to be better equipped to tackle tough business problems.

 

 

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BARGAINING FOR ADVANTAGE: NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES FOR REASONABLE PEOPLE 

by Richard Shell

Why we love it: Easy to read tips and strategies for anyone from the professional closing a big merger, to the dad encouraging his kid to eat more broccoli.

 

 

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COMPANIES ON A MISSION

by Michael V. Russo

Why we love it: Written by Oregon MBA professor Michael Russo, this book explains how following a vision good for the earth and for society can be a powerful route to profits.

 

 

 
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BARBARIANS AT THE GATE: THE FALL OF RJR NABISCO

by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar

Why we love it: This account of the largest takeover in Wall Street history has been called one of the most influential business books of all time.

 

 

 

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

 

THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS

by Ben Horowitz.

Why we love it: A must read for any prospective entrepreneur who needs to understand the potential emotional aspects of starting a company.

 

 

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IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT JOB

by Clyde Lowstutter and Cammen Lowstutter

Why we love it: A great overall general career book that prepares you for the next step-whether you’re making a career move, or want to take charge of your career.

 

 

 
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WORKING IDENTITY 

by Herminia Ibarra

Why we love it: This book is for those looking to change career paths. It presents a new model for career reinvention that argues the way to the right career is to “try on a host of possible selves we might become.”

 

 

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YEAR OF YES

by Shonda Rhimes

Why we love it: Inspirational and humorous account of how to take control over making your life what you really want it to be, on your own terms. Promotes optimism, a balanced perspective, and to not take it all too seriously.

 

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THE AGILITY ADVANTAGE

by Amanda Setili

Why we love it: Speed combined with agility is great preparation and very important for the fast-changing sectors of business in our world today.

 

 

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.

#MyOutdoorStory an Outdoor Industry Association Movement

#MyOutdoorStory

 

“Each of us has a story—unique in its particulars but ubiquitous in its theme—about how we fell in love with the outdoors. The first time you went camping, your first job at a local outdoor retail shop, the piece of gear that saved or changed your life, the ‘aha’ moment when you realized that you were an outdoorist.” So begins the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) article on the #MyOutdoorStory campaign trying to collect and archive the unique stories and perspectives that create the industry’s soul.

During the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market January 5th-9th the OIA set up a mountain gondola in the middle of the expo floor for attendees to record their stories. Thanks to the Oregon MBA I was in attendance and while chatting with OIA employees was convinced to add my aspiring outdoor industry member’s voice to the mix (see the text version of my interview below).

I was also fortunate to chat with Todd Walton, the Marketing Communications Manager from the OIA and the brains behind #MyOutdoorStory, to get a little background on the initiative.

The idea for #MyOutdoorStory was strongly influenced by the StoryCorps movement because people like telling their stories and the outdoor industry is built on stories from iconic brands OIA Micstarted on the tops of mountains, with the sole purpose to enable the founders to be outside more. We all know these stories, but what about the hundreds of others that make up the industry? #MyOutdoorStory was built to capture those stories, from retail employees, to CEOs. These stories bind us together as an industry, they are what makes the outdoor industry special. As Walton says, “You can never replicate the lessons learned being outside.”

Although Walton was concerned that the initiative might not be successful, the old gondola turned sound booth couldn’t help but draw people in. In all they averaged 20-30 interviews per day over the four days of the tradeshow and became a highlight of the expo floor.

The best thing about #MyOutdoorStory is that it isn’t going to end with the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. OIA has plans for people to continue posting 1-2 minute sound clips on the website to continue to capture these stories. OIA hopes to grow #MyOutdoorStory beyond the outdoor industry because telling these stories crosses barriers and breaks people out of their shells. “In the gondola there were people who broke down in tears and plenty of roaring laughter,” Walton said. “No matter what the tone, every unique story captured a piece of the person telling it, their passion was palpable.”

#MyOutdoorStory GondolaRead on if you’re interested in a text version of my experience in the gondola and go to #MyOutdoorStory to check out sound clips of others.

Deborah Williams from the OIA and I stepped into the gondola, she handed me a mic and told me keep answers short but to have fun with the interview.

“What was your first experience with the outdoors?” she asked me.

“I was lucky to grow up along a greenbelt in Portland, Oregon and my youth is full of stories exploring this forest, building forts, climbing trees, and playing make believe. During the summers we would go camping at lakes in the Cascades and on the Oregon coast. I’ve always loved water. I would splash around and pretend I was a mermaid any chance I could.”

“What brought you to Outdoor Retailer?”Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2016

“I’m a Sustainable Business MBA student at the University
of Oregon getting ready to graduate. I was invited to attend the Sustainability Working Group meetings yesterday and was excited to come learn more about collaborative efforts like the HIGG Index and Responsible Down Standard, as well as meet people who are actually working on the tough environmental and social issues we study.”

“Do you have a moment you consider your ‘aha’ moment that you realized you were an outdoorist?” was the next question.

“You know, I would have to say the moment I connected with surfing.” I pause thinking of all the amazing surfing memories I’ve had. “Surfing to me is a way to connect with something bigger than myself. You have to become one with nature and the waves to be successful. You have to learn to understand the subtle nuances, read the ocean, make your best guess, and then just go for it. I’ve come close to extreme danger while surfing more times than my mom would like to know. But being in the ocean has taught me more than anything else in my life. It’s taught me patience and living in the moment, how to read subtle cues and changes in situations, how to just hold your breath and stop fighting, that in the end with a little faith, things usually turn out better than you imagine.”

The last question I really made me think. “Why are you a part of the Outdoor Industry?”

Keen's OR Winter Market boothMy first thought was that I wasn’t, I was just a student with aspirations, but over the past few days I had been accepted and included and my ideas were listened to just as much as anyone else. I realized to the professionals I respected I was a part of the outdoor industry. I answered, “The Outdoor Industry inspires me. I have met so many amazing, passionate people this week. People who are committed to preserving the outdoors so that everyone can have the experiences and the inspiration we have, as REI says, A life outdoors is a life well lived. And I see that manifested in companies like Patagonia, Keen, MEC, Hydroflask, prAna, REI, and in the people that make up this industry. But as Terry Tempest Williams said in her keynote this morning, we aren’t doing enough. I believe the outdoor industry needs to stand up for what it believes in, be more vocal, and demand change. I hope to get a job in the outdoor industry because the level of collaboration and passion is unparalleled. This industry is a vital piece in advancing the environmental movement both with consumers and policy makers and I want to be a part of that movement.”

 

Thank you to Todd Walton, Katie Boue, and Nikki Hodgson from the OIA. All photo credit to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.

4 Cultural Trends That Will Affect Business in Asia

Engaging Asia BeijingHaving studied international relations and lived abroad for a number of years, I’ve experienced first hand the interconnectivity of our current world. One of the reasons I chose the Oregon MBA is because this program also understands the importance globalization has on business. The Oregon MBA takes it one step further by offering all students a highly subsidized international business trip to Asia to experience international business first hand.

Through the Engaging Asia study tour I was given the opportunity to experience the culture, history, politics, economics, and business of three very distinct cities: Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. The two-week trip consisted of meetings and tours with leaders from a wide variety of organizations, from large international businesses, to local start-ups, to government officials. In the course of these meetings and cultural experiences I identified four common trends to watch as I enter my career:

1)   The rising middle class and consumerism: The United States middle class is no longer the driver of the world’s economic growth, with over 109 million people worth between $50,000 and $500,000 in China alone; the Asian-Pacific market is now the most influential consumer class. Since 2000, twice as many Chinese as Americans have joined the middle class (CNN Money)  and by 2030 two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be in the Asia-Pacific region (Jeffrey Towson and Jonathan
Woetzel
). What does this mean for international businesses looking for growth? You’d better establish a presence now and start building a Engaging Asia Shanghairelationship with this powerful market.

2)   Young consumers: Asian consumers are significantly younger than their Western counterparts. Chinese born after 1980 represent more than 50% of the Chinese population, and Indian’s median age is only 27. These young people have grown up in a connected world, are more receptive to Western ideas and businesses, and deeply aspire for a better life (Helen H. Wang). They pose a huge opportunity, but are also a difficult segment due to their ability to detect manipulations and false intentions. That’s why authentic brands are crucial.

3)   The importance of authenticity: Asian consumers are getting savvy to fake offerings and poor imitations and now that they have the financial ability, they want the real thing from brands that recognize traditional differences and cultures. What this means for new businessmen and women is that it is going to become vital to have someone on the Engaging Asia Beijingground who really understands what the Asian consumer is looking for and his or her pain points.
It is also a huge opportunity for people with strong people and relationship building skills if they are willing to live and work internationally.

 

 

4)    The increased awareness of health and happiness in place of money as a symbol of status: Chinese citizens have realized that a higher income doesn’t always have the expected correlation with well-being, thus recent trends have shifted. The increased importance on happiness and welfare as measurements of success has led Chinese citizens to be more physically active, more relationship and community focused, and care more about the state of the environment. Average Chinese citizens are sick of pollution and the illnesses it causes and are demanding more from the government. Chai Jing, for example, became a sensation with over one million YouTube views of her documentary Under the Dome Investigating China’s Smog. However, Chai Jing doesn’t claim to be an extreme environmentalist; she’s just a Nike Shanghainormal citizen bringing light to the questions that all Chinese have begun asking. She’s just a mom who wants a healthier life for her daughter, as do all Chinese citizens. Corporate social responsibility and sustainability will be vital to the success of businesses operating in Asia.

 

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.

How to turn a surf bum into a professional.

I always thought the typical MBA student graduated top of her class from an undergraduate business school, spent four to five years developing in a professional field, and always felt comfortable in a suit.

I’ve come to realize that I am not the typical MBA student.

I earned undergraduate degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Latin American Studies from a college of humanities, and spent the next three years living in a small beach town in western Costa Rica. I’m more comfortable in a wetsuit than a business suit, which is very uncommon if you’ve ever worn a wetsuit.

Samara, the town in Costa Rica where I lived, has a cyclical, tourist-driven economy. When it was high tourist season, everyone had jobs and extra money. In the rainy season there was a lot of time spent hanging around, surfing, and resting on the beach. Because of this, I held more jobs in those three years than many people do in their whole lives.

costa

Since moving back to the U.S., I’ve had a lot of trouble explaining my previous industry and it’s been very difficult to write resumes and work histories that do justice to the vast amount of experience I have. Many people don’t understand why I’ve had so many jobs or why I would stay abroad for so long. These people write me off because they can’t recognize the names of the companies I list or identify with my slightly different path.

I never planned to stay in Costa Rica that long, but sometimes life takes you on its own journey. Instead of learning the rules of the boardroom, I learned the rules of the surf line up. Instead of speaking business lingo, I spoke Spanish. And instead of watching people build bigger and bigger paychecks, I watched people live day-to-day, only worried about who had enough money for the next round.

In Samara, friends become family. And family is an extension of you. People, and our relationships with them, are the most important commodity. Jobs come and go, money comes and goes, but through the help of the community, there is always enough to get by. I’ve learned to value people above all else and have faith that I can do any task put in front of me.

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Since starting the Oregon MBA program, I’ve realized what I once saw as weakness and lack of experience is actually my own unique competitive advantage. My time in Samara made me who I am and I’m lucky to have found a program that values my experience and is committed to helping each student grow from whatever background.

Life is unpredictable, sometimes you just have to jump.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.

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 Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. 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.