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Sustainability Consulting 101: The Role of the Players Driving Impact

I’ve become interested in consulting because of its ability to move bigger levers and engage diverse stakeholders with global presence. For example, the consulting firm Business for Social Responsibility works with the Rocky Mountain Institute, World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund to facilitate solutions to transform global electricity systems with renewable energy. Conversations like this happening at 30,000 feet drive impact; impact the world needs to navigate a risky future. With change and leadership management also crucial pieces in helping companies adopt an environmentally responsible culture, the role consultants can play is crucial. Today I’m taking the opportunity to explore sustainability consulting and the key players making an impact.

(Image: IChemEblog.org)

Just 2% of sustainability change management programs work at corporations (Bain, 2016), compared to a 30%  traditional change management program success rate. Clearly, embedding sustainable values into a corporation is extremely challenging. Perhaps too, some companies are not ready to fully commit to a triple bottom line framework.

Yet, now more than ever, consumers expect more transparency and better business practices from corporations. According to the 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, 79% of Americans expect businesses to continue improving their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental efforts. 64% are hopeful business will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward. Look at Blackrock and Patagonia. The needle is moving, albeit slowly.

Today, 65% of executives report sustainability to be on their top management agenda, up from just 46% in 2010. Companies are moving in the right direction (BCG, 2017). To add sustainability to the business core is to be a 21st century company. Corporations would be foolish not to engage a triple bottom line framework. They can with the help of consulting firms.

10 years ago, the sustainability consulting market didn’t exist as a separate entity, but now it does, according to Yaowen Ma, a Verdantix analyst (Greenbiz, 2015). Though it’s not a booming industry, it has a presence and it’s growing. One challenge is that a corporation needs buy-in and budget across multiple departments to commit to sustainability consulting. Additionally, there may be more growth than we think but, many projects that are sustainably focused fall under other scopes like supply chain or marketing.

Who are the players in the space? Business for Social Responsibility, SustainAbility, and FSG are firms helping public and private partners work on their social and environmental goals. According to Environmental Leader, Deloitte, McKinsey, and PwC lead in sustainability strategy consulting while Ernst & Young, KPMG, and McKinsey (again) offer the strongest sustainability risk assessment services. With the meaning of sustainability evolving, so too, are the companies offering services. For example, Futerra is a women-led consulting firm specializing in sustainability branding and creative. Check out other players here.

What else are these firms accomplishing? SustainAbility helped Maersk build internal awareness of sustainability risks and opportunities in the industry. McKinsey works on solutions to help today’s cities grow economically and sustainably into megacities. PwC implemented a GHG gas assessment and methodology for a transportation provider in Luxemburg so the company could differentiate itself from the competition. Project by project, consulting firms guide partners to towards a triple bottom line approach.

With millennials continuing to demand transparency and social and environmental good from the companies they engage, corporate sustainability will only grow, and with it sustainability consulting.

Written by sbrinker

Brinker has nearly ten years of advancement and communications experience with non-profits focused on conservation and clean energy. Brinker secured two U.S. Department of Energy SunShot grants as well as RE-volv’s largest grant to date from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which will be used to deploy 100 kilowatts of installed solar capacity. Through the Oregon MBA, Brinker studies corporate sustainability, advanced strategy, and leadership. After graduation, Brinker seeks to guide corporations in implementing strategies that create more sustainable products and practices. Her love for running is complemented by an equal affinity for pizza.

Media Access at the Moda Center: An Insider’s View of NBA Game Day

When I first landed in the United States (Boston in particular), the first thing I did was book a ticket for a Celtics game. I chose to see a Knicks – Celtics game due to their historic rivalry. The TD Garden had a perfect atmosphere and, although neither team was at its best, it was an unforgettable experience. Today, two years later, I’ve been given the opportunity to see the NBA from the inside. As part of the NBA press media representing a Spanish radio station, I am lucky to see the NBA from another point of view; one much closer than I ever expected.

How did this amazing opportunity come about? I have connections with media outlets back home in Spain, and I thought that they might need someone that they know and trust who could cover NBA games in the Pacific Northwest. I sent a few emails and in a few weeks was at the Moda Center with my first NBA press credential happier than ever.

Lesson: Create your own job and your own chances through networking. The right connections are key in the sports business industry.

I usually arrive at the Moda Center an hour and a half before the games. The media entrance is the same one as the entrance to the floor so we have to pass through security. They check my backpack, and I have to go through the metal detector to verify that I am not carrying anything dangerous. After that, I can pick up my accreditation and am all set to start working. Since I am not a full time journalist, but an MBA student who lives in Eugene, I have to ask for credentials for each game. I email the radio station a few days before, letting them know that I will attend the game and they let me pick up my credentials upon arrival.

Once I have collected my press credentials, I enter the media room where I enjoy the delicious dinner that the Blazers’ staff politely offers to all the accredited journalists for the game. This is my chance to talk to fellow journalists and do some networking which always helps. An hour before the game, I have the option to interview the coaches of both teams and go on the floor to take photos. As a member of the press, I have access to the VIP area, the bench, and the court. After the game, media members also have access to the locker room.

My working station is in Section 207 of the Moda Center, just behind the VIP area. I can see the game perfectly and have a table for my laptop and a TV where I can watch other NBA games or check the game statistics. We definitely have everything we need there. At the end of each quarter, a representative of the Blazers gives us a sheet with game stats and fun facts that help us tweet or write to fans with data to support our comments. I admit that most of us spend the game tweeting. At the end of the game, the Blazers PR department emails or posts on the media website a press release with the game report that we can use to write our articles.

Once the game ends, I can attend the Blazers coach press conference or interview the rival coach in the hallway of the entrance to the locker room. After the coach answers our questions we are granted access to the locker rooms to interview the players.

                           The Media Room at the Moda Center

How many times have we seen in the media that a player had a triple-double in the game? Or beat the record of 3 pointers in a quarter? If you were a coach, would you give a player that has 18 points and 9 rebounds a chance to play a few more minutes to get his double-double even if you were winning by 20 points? In this game, the statistics have a tremendous influence on the game. Let me share with you an interesting anecdote: Why do you think Draymond Green, aka “Mr. Triple-double,” played just one minute in the 4th quarter of the Warriors – Blazers game? They were winning by 15 points and as one of the players with the most overall season minutes, Green needed the rest. But at that point in the game, Green had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Could you guess what happened after that minute? Good old Draymond got the assist needed for his umpteenth triple-double of the season and went straight to the bench.

That’s another advantage of watching NBA from behind the cameras: Continued access to statistics and fun facts provided by the excellent public relations department of the Blazers. This makes a journalist’s life much easier–not only to objectively discuss the game (If you see the “Splash Brothers scoring 60 points with more than 50% FG” no doubt that you can objectively say they have destroyed the Blazers) but it also helps to understand some coaching decisions that a viewer, focused on the game and its continuous highlights, simply cannot see.

The line-up of the players that I have had the good fortune to watch and report on at the Moda Center are:

PG – Steph Curry

PG – Russell Westbrook

SF – Kevin Durant

SF – Draymond Green

C – DeAndre Jordan

6th Man: Klay Thompson

 

And my favorite moments are:

1. Taking part in the Steph Curry post-game interview

2. Meeting Paul Pierce

3. The food at the Rose Garden / Moda Center– simply delicious!

 

Written by jcampos@uoregon.edu

Jose Campos is an experienced Sports Marketer born in Spain and 2017 Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA. After a few years working in the UK, Jose came to the US to work at the East Coast before arriving at the UO. After graduating he is looking to work as Sports Agent.

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.

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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.

A Sierra Nevada love story: how a non-beer drinker fell in love with a brewery

Long story short, I am not a beer enthusiast. I can boast that I have the distinguished title of Beer Master from the Budweiser tour at Busch Gardens, but those days are long gone.

The Center for Sustainable Business Practices scheduled a visit to the Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico, California, on our trip home from San Francisco in early April. I was expecting a company video and a quick tour, ending with a beer tasting. Instead, we were taken on a thorough tour of the factory and grounds where we learned about the numerous sustainability initiatives Sierra Nevada has implemented. For example, the company has a rooftop solar array that aids their fuel cells in meeting the brewery’s energy needs.

We toured the grounds and visited the organic garden that supplies flowers for the site’s landscaping and provides fresh produce for the onsite restaurant. We even saw the beloved composter, Hot Rot, which helped Sierra Nevada divert 99.8% of its solid waste from the landfill in 2012.

The personalized tour ended with lunch at the onsite restaurant with Cheri Chastain, Sustainability Manager. Cheri discussed her work on the company’s most recent Sustainability report, the purchase of Hot Rot, and the benefits of working for a privately held company. Her job spans from feeding food scraps to the composter to imbedding sustainability into the new brewery location in Mills River, North Carolina.

Sierra Nevada is proof that growth and sustainability can go hand in hand. It was an inspiring visit and I am excited to have Cheri as a professional connection.

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Written by Kelly Kilker

Kelly is a second year UO MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). She is a running and yoga enthusiast looking to create and manage employee wellness programs. Kelly did her undergraduate work at Florida State University and is from Boca Raton, Florida.

Business Honors Students in Guatemala

Thirteen students from the Lundquist College of Business Honors Program spent the week of spring break in Guatemala learning and gaining hands-on experience about micro-consignment projects through Social Entrepreneurship Corps, a nonprofit working in tandem with the Guatemalan-based company, Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom). SolCom aims to make products such as water filters, wood stoves, and reading glasses accessible to all communities by partnering with and training local entrepreneurs (termed asesoras by SolCom).

Honors students used what they learned in their business classes to develop an outreach campaign to sell water filters and attract asesoras for SolCom in the San Juan la Laguna region. As many students came to learn however, the trip would not only draw on their business knowledge but also interpersonal and communication skills because most of the students did not speak Spanish. “I would get frustrated when I couldn’t communicate with my host family because I really wanted to be able to talk to them,” said Sara Chrisman, a junior who went on the trip. “Especially in the end when I wanted to show them how grateful how I was but I couldn’t properly express that. But people were very patient and understanding and willing to help you. My homestay family was very kind, welcoming, and went out of their way to make me comfortable when they didn’t have to.”

The outreach campaign produced some great results. Through the outreach campaign, six water filters were sold, at least 10 businesses were approached to consign products, and hundreds of fliers—designed by the students themselves—were distributed in the town center.

But perhaps an even greater success was what students took away from the experience. For students, the trip became a launching point for future endeavors. Several students expressed an interest in learning more Spanish and traveling more after their time in Guatemala. For three students, this trip was their first time out of the country, and they are taking their experience to guide them on their study abroad to Europe in the upcoming year. David Creach, a sophomore, is excited to take what he has learned in Guatemala—what he calls his “first international business improvement experience”—and apply it to his internship in Japan this summer.

What the students got out of the week was definitely priceless. Chad Derrick, who had never been out of the country before Guatemala, reflected positively on his experience. “I gave up a chance to recuperate, sleep, and hang out with friends to go to Guatemala, but it was worth it. I learned so much, especially about how important relationships are to people in Guatemala and I’ve been able to apply it to my own life,” said Derrick. “Coming back from that trip, I realize just how differently people can live and that it’s definitely easier to care about something when you feel like you’re making a difference.”

—Anna Karvina Pidong ’16

Anna Karvina Pidong is an accounting major graduating in Spring 2016. Aside from the business school, Anna is heavily involved with Kultura Pilipinas, the Filipino and Filipino-American student organization at the UO, and hopes to one day use her accounting background to manage a nonprofit in the Philippines.

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.

The Inaugural Warsaw Workshop

I was excited to be part of the first Warsaw Workshop. It was fun to participate in an event that my fellow Warsaw MBA classmates helped put together and run. I was impressed with their professionalism and how smoothly everything ran. The theme “technology in sport” was very useful and informative, especially since I am still in the beginning stages of leveraging my own social media outlets for career purposes. The workshop covered using technology and social media for bigger brands, as well as ways to leverage your own personal media image to propel and sell yourself.

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The Warsaw Workshop’s Organizing Committee

They mentioned selling yourself and YOUR brand. We should all be thinking about what we stand for, who we are, and  making sure we are being compassionate and genuine. It is also vital that our personal “brand” is equal and consistent on all mediums. I thought this was very useful information to take forward in my personal career.

The workshop started with an introduction to the panel of five: Rich Campbell (Professor of Marketing, Sonoma State), Nicole Kankam (Managing Director for Marketing, United States Tennis Association), Melissa Marchionna (Senior Manager of Digital Programming, New York Jets), Dave Rosen (Senior Director of Marketing, Bleacher Report), and Russell Scibetti (Vice President, KORE Software).

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There were around 80 participants (students) in the crowd, which made for a more intimate setting—which I really enjoyed. It gave the workshop a more personal experience throughout the entire workshop. The students were mostly undergraduates, but there were a few graduate students sprinkled around as well. I was very impressed with the range of panelists and the positions they held in their current careers. Each panelist had at least one “golden nugget” I was able to take away from the experience as a point to remember in my journey going forward. I think this was one of the most valuable parts of the workshop for me. It’s always reassuring to hear from industry leaders that they were once in my shoes and with a little perseverance and hard work you can (and will) make it in the industry.

The most useful golden nugget I took away from this workshop was that LITTLE things go a long way and have the potential to turn into big things. This ranges from what you do at home to what you do in the work place. Are you paying attention to the little details? Are you doing the little things that other’s in the position wont do? One story was told about a fan having their beer spilt by another person sitting next to her. This fan had posted something on social media about it, and this sports team saw the post and came and brought her a new beer. This gesture isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but made a huge difference to that ONE fan and she bragged about her experience on social media which helped give this team a better brand image with their customers.

My favorite part of the workshop, besides the awesome free lunch, was the interaction at the end. After the Q & A period and lunch, the remaining students (some had to leave for class) were divided into four different groups. Each group was able to brainstorm and solve a real issue one of the panelists was currently facing. I was fortunate enough to be in David Rosen’s group from Bleacher Report. We had a group of around 10-15 students and our goal was to figure out how to market to college-aged students.

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Our goal was to find a marketing campaign that would help spread Bleacher Report’s name and image. Bleacher Report found that as people go through different stages of their lives they have different amounts of time to dedicate to looking through sports articles. As someone goes from college student to full-time career to potential wife and kids their time to research sports articles gets smaller and smaller. They want Bleacher Report to be their main source of information when they only have a chance to browse for 5 minutes as a dad, instead of 45 minutes as a student.

It was refreshing to have a “real life” problem to help solve. There are so many times during our MBA classes we are required to go over case studies and hypothetically problem solve for issues that have already been solved. Case studies definitely provide their own unique learning experiences, but there is a different feel when you have a chance to be part of a solution to a problem that hasn’t yet been solved.

After each group spent 30 minutes brainstorming we decided on our best idea and presented it to the rest of the group. I was “chosen” to present for my group, which was a great experience for me. I have presented a number of times in class, but usually these are cases we have spent time prepping for outside of class with the ability to refine our presentations. This was a much different experience to only have 45 minutes to brainstorm and put together a “presentation”. I enjoyed the challenge of learning and adapting as I went through the presentation. I thought this was the best learning experience I got from the conference.

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Me with my teams’ notes

Our final recommendation was for Bleacher Report to have a weekend “event” to promote their brand. We wanted to tailor it similar to ESPN’s Game Day. Each campus has a unique focal point where the majority of students “hang out”; we decided that the new recreation center would be Oregon’s focal point. As we brainstormed it became very apparent that college students LOVE free stuff, especially shirts. It’s a little crazy what someone will do for a free shirt on a college campus. So we obviously recommended giving away free shirts, as well as promoting different competitions and events to kids focused on what the recreation center has to offer. We thought of doing a three-point contest, and a contest of who could climb the rock wall the fastest, among other competitions. We would use social media to promote these competitions, possibly featuring the winner on the Bleacher Report website, since everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.

In the end my group didn’t end up winning the “competition”, but hearing what each panelists had to say about all of four groups was refreshing and a win in my eyes. They all seemed impressed with the different ideas each group came up with and all of them said that they hadn’t thought of many of these ideas. They each said they would take at least one idea back to their respective work places and pitch it to their superior.

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Each team got up and presented their idea to the group

Overall I thought the experience was very useful and fun to be a part of. I am definitely excited to attend the future Warsaw Workshops. The problem solving experience made the Workshop more than just a “talking head” telling us about their experiences, but more about interacting first-hand with sports business professionals and learning new skills from them. I took away a lot from this experience and was proud of my classmates for putting together, and running, such a smooth and fun event.

Written by wscott2@uoregon.edu

Current Warsaw Sports Marketing MBA Candidate class of 2016. I am very passionate about sports. I grew up playing against my four older brothers, which helped me become a decent athlete as well as toughened me up in order to be confident in my ability put up a fight and battle in almost any situation I am put in.

AirFit Competes at Cardinal Challenge @ U. of Louisville

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After leaving Eugene on a 5:28 am flight, we arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, ready to pitch our company, AirFit, to the judges and audience at the Cardinal Challenge Business Plan Competition.  We knew we were up for a challenge as most teams competing were involved in life-sciences, and the judges would have to completely shift their mindset for our presentation. Unlike our fellow teams with their latest-and-greatest diabetes monitor or a new surgical instrument, our product is simple to understand.  AirFit is revamping the dreaded layover experience by placing gym and shower facilities into airport terminals, located behind security.  While most teams spent a significant amount of the presentation explaining how their product was better than the alternatives, our feat was to explain all the financial costs associated with our endeavor and why we were the best team to bring this vision to reality.

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Friday evening began with a social reception and introduction.  During our candid and brief self-intro to all the other groups and advisors, AirFit was immediately well-received, garnering applause and supportive cheers upon the initial announcement of what we were trying to accomplish.  Clearly AirFit’s value proposition was meeting the needs of many people in the crowd.  Funneling this supportive energy, we took to the stage bright and early the next morning, unveiling AirFit to the world outside Oregon for its maiden flight.  15 minutes of uninterrupted presentation, followed by another 15 of Q&A, we delivered a solid performance.

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The only team at the competition with just two founders, a completely different business model than any other company present, and having nothing to do with the deep fried chicken style concepts normally seen at this Kentucky competition, AirFit had the cards stacked against us.  These uphill battles became apparent when we discovered we unfortunately did not make it onto the final round.  Major challenges revolved around convincing judges to remain objective and not ask whether they, in fact, would use the product, but what the voice of the customer at large was telling us.  According to our market research (tinyurl.com/AirFitSurvey) of over 200 respondents, polled mainly in airport or gym environments, more than 85% indicated an interest for AirFit’s services, and at even what price-point they would be willing to pay.  Unfortunately these key data points fell on deaf ears and are an area of improvement in the presentation we plan on addressing in our next competition this spring.

While disappointed we did not win the competition, all of AirFit’s founders and team enjoyed the experience for what it was – a tremendous learning opportunity and one of the many rite-of-passages most new ventures must undergo. Our concept had open validation among individuals in the crowd, and even from competing teams.  The ability to compete in such an environment is a fantastic opportunity in and of itself.  Each team present in Louisville clearly contributed their own blood, sweat, and tears over the last few months to get to this point, only raising the overall caliber of the entire performance.  The final outcome of the situation is that all AirFit members are ready to tackle the next presentation, next investor meeting, and next step involved in taking our company forward on the path to success.  Namely, we are looking for one more individual with prior gym management experience to join the team in an operations role, and the next few months before graduation will be dedicated to this task.

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Written by Ty

After graduating from Dartmouth College with a degree in applied mathematics, I worked in the non-profit world as a group facilitator and program manager for experiential education programs. During my time working for private and public organizations, we well as small and mammoth universities, I simultaneously acquired startup experience as I founded sub and side project departments under the greater umbrella of my larger employer. I am currently a 2nd year MBA student at the U. of Oregon and have full intentions on remaining with my startup company, AirFit, post graduation

Start spreading the news…

It is a market unlike any other. It is famed and fabled. New York, New York.

New York Lens

Our cohort of business minded individuals, that after traveling around the world together and many late nights in the Lillis Business Complex, I now call my friends, just returned home from our last trip. We have walked the hills of San Francisco, the streets of Mumbai, the high speed trains of China and survived the muggy commute in Singapore. With all of the miles under our belt, there was simply no better place to end our world travels as MBA’s than in the city that defines american business, New York.

It was a capstone to our travels but a beginning to our “re”-entry into the professional world. For many of us the New York marketplace was just as foreign as the Singaporean market. It was unique, established and aggressive. The biggest challenge wasn’t fear of competition or unforeseen threats but rather the challenge of growth.

It’s unique to walk into businesses that have different functions, products, consumer uses and experiences and have all of them repeat the same notion, “not selling is never an issue.” It was reiterated time and time again that in the New York City Market, selling out wasn’t a goal it was an expectation. From nonprofits to the Major leagues, every business identified their greatest asset was that, they were in the “best” market in the world. This seems haughty when comparing to the boom of Silicon Valley or the emergence in popularity of the Pacific Northwest, but for anyone who has been or is from New York, you have experienced this ethos, that New York is to some, quite literally, the center of the universe.

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Radio City Music Hall

As a student of business and a professional that will be relaunching my career, learning and familiarizing myself with unique markets is invaluable. Although New York stands for American business it is safe to say that it is not representative of the challenges that other markets face. It recalls the infamous Mad Men episode in which the New York ad executives spend time with a major client in southern CA. Although our country is unified around the same language, government and founding values, the business environments are just as foreign as traveling to southeast Asia.

While I suggest the uniqueness and power of the New York market, I still believe it to be the perfect representative of American enterprise. Mixed and challenged but strong, resilient and confident. Start spreading the news…I want to be a part of it, New York.

Written by Lauren Stornetta

2nd year Warsaw Sports Marketing MBA. Building a career in strategic planning with a passion for creative business development.

The Essential Oregon MBA Checklist

As 2015 brings about another New Year and a new term, I realize that I am already over one sixth of the way done with my MBA experience! Despite the fact that I am over 2,500 miles from home and miss my friends and family immensely, I can honestly say that after my first term at the Oregon MBA, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to join this cohort and school in my pursuit of a post-graduate degree. The first term was certainly a challenge and presented me with many obstacles and new experiences, all of which will help prepare me for the world of business I hope to one day be a part of. As I reflect on my first term, I come to the realization that this MBA program is so unique in so many ways and these distinctive qualities have provided me with the perfect learning environment, both academically and personally. Because of this realization, I have come up with my “essential MBA checklist”. Although everyone looks for something different in an MBA program, I will outline my list in the hopes that there are others looking for similar characteristics in their pursuit of a Master’s degree.

  • Diversity: Living in North Carolina nearly my entire life, I was accustomed to a certain type of person, lifestyle, etc. My graduating class features students from multiple countries and all across the United States, which has opened my eyes to so many different cultures, viewpoints, and opinions. Although diversity was not something I initially based my decision on, I was extremely lucky to choose a program that focused on diversity because it will certainly make me better prepared for the workforce and life in general after graduation.
  • Teamwork: Upon initially hearing that for our first term we would be put into teams and would have to work with these teams in every class, I will admit I was extremely nervous and anxious. However, the constant emphasis on teamwork and combining skills with your classmates to produce the best output possible is something I cannot praise enough! I was fortunate enough to not only develop my personal teamwork skills, but also to learn to find the best qualities in my teammates and bring out these qualities in all projects. Although it was not always easy, this program’s emphasis on working together has been an invaluable lesson that will serve me equally as much as any educational knowledge throughout my two years.
The class of 2016 MBA's volunteering at Mount Pisgah.

The class of 2016 MBA’s volunteering at Mount Pisgah.

  • Cohorts: I have absolutely loved the four distinct cohorts in our program! Although I am a member of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and am so excited to be starting my sports specific classes this term, I do not believe I would have gotten as much out of this program if we were not all mixed together with the Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Business, and Finance cohorts. Having distinct centers within the MBA program creates a small immediate family within a larger family and I believe this unique quality of the Oregon MBA is part of what makes it such a perfect fit for me. I have gotten to know and become friends with people that I most likely would never have interacted with or known I had anything in common with had it not been for the combining of centers for many of our first term classes.
The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center first and second years after a kickball tournament.

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center first and second years after a kickball tournament.

  • Size: The intimacy of this program has really been perfect for me. I know all of my classmates by name. We frequently find internship postings or interesting articles and immediately know which classmate to send them to based on their interests. I can go into the Career Services or MBA office and feel like a person, not just a number. Being so far away from home, this emphasis on helping and caring about each individual student has made me feel comfortable and has instilled in me a caring attitude toward the MBA program that will carry on long after I have graduated.
  • Customizability: Lastly, this program provides me the perfect opportunity to study something I care about, while still getting a meaningful degree. I always said that I did not just want any MBA because I felt it would not be specific enough to help me achieve the highest level of success possible. Through the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, I am able to learn about sports and marketing while still gaining the specific business knowledge I need to succeed. Not only am I provided knowledge in the classroom, but I am also provided with trips, speakers, and networking opportunities that speak directly to my passions. I can tailor my coursework, internship experiences, and class projects to perfectly fit my individual goals. I will most likely have a different experience than many of my classmates based on our career goals and yet we are all given the tools to succeed if we choose to be proactive and use them!

Ultimately, I have learned that getting an MBA is so much more than just a degree. Upon arriving at school, I was only expecting to get a great education; however, after one term here I have realized that the Oregon MBA is about so much more than classrooms and studies. It is about learning from every experience, speaker, and visit. It is about using your classmates to help you grow and to help them grow as well. It is absolutely what you make it and if you choose to make it great, Oregon will provide you will all the resources possible to make your dreams a reality.

Written by Christine Lutz

Christine was born and raised in North Carolina and is a current second year MBA Student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

The Journey of One Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step

“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat, when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion”

It is probably this quote that sums up my desire to work in the sports industry. My heart probably started to beat when I was chosen as the Sports Head of my university, which gave me a chance to be involved with multiple facets of organizing sports events; from marketing the event to landing a sponsorship deal for funding it. My interest has only strengthened and has continued to grow exponentially ever since.

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My mom, dad, and I moments before I boarded the plane headed for the USA

 

Having completed my undergrad degree in engineering, I got an opportunity to work with a Boston based digital marketing agency, Sapient. Life at Sapient was amazing, a good work life balance, financial stability, getting to live at my own place and weekend Cricket matches. What more could I have asked for?  Just when complacency started creeping in, and the desire to follow my dreams started dimming, I gave myself a kick in the butt. I decided to quit my job and join a sports startup while preparing for an MBA focusing in sport. And here I am, 2 years down the line and 8000 miles away from home, following my dream and pursuing a career in sports marketing at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

The transition has not been easy and has been filled with doubts and questions–which course to go for, which university to target, which country to target, and the biggest one- ‘Have I made a correct choice of getting into the sports industry’?

Through this blog I aim to answer a few of those questions.

My journey till now

Coming from a conservative military family, the decision to take up sports as a career was not an easy one and I consider it to be the most important one that I have taken in my life. I find myself lucky to have very supporting parents who not only supported me but also pushed me that tad bit extra to overcome challenges coming my way- and believe me, there were many; especially after choosing a career option that was unconventional in my country. It was my parents’ sincere aspiration for me that I complete my Engineering degree as it could be a fall-back option in case the script of life threw unforeseen surprises. Having achieved my parents’ ambition for me, I believed that now was the time to follow my own interest and carve a path for myself in the sports industry and it was this dream of mine that has today brought me to University of Oregon pursuing the course of my choice.

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My family

 

Why Sports Marketing?

I was born and brought up in a family of people in love with sports. My father was a former all-India police tennis champion and my sister is the current goalkeeper for India’s national football team. I had always sincerely wished to be associated with sports in any capacity that I could, be it a player or an administrator. Being a player early in my career, I had the opportunity to get in touch with some supremely talented people who never really got an opportunity to showcase their talent and I have dreamt of playing a significant role in creating a sports structure for my country where every sportsman gets an opportunity when he/she deserves one. Once I learned about the sports MBA courses offered across the globe, it just seemed to be a logical extension of that dream of mine.

But choosing the sports marketing domain was a decision not driven by instinct but by careful research that I had done over a couple of years. I studied the market and spoke to professionals who were working in the industry and had been associated with brands such as F1, Nike, FIFA. Also, with the sports culture in India on an upswing and the advent of corporate giants in the sports industry, my faith that the sports industry would be one of the fastest growing industry in the next few years only strengthened. With the sports industry in India finally adopting sports other than cricket, and also being considered the hotbed by a major number of high profile sports team, I finally decided to take up the course and embark on my journey.

Why Warsaw Sports Marketing Center – University of Oregon?

By talking to professionals working in the industry and reading through information/blogs on the internet, the United States seemed to be one of the best places to pursue a sports marketing course and study about the various aspects involved with it. The U.S. has one of the biggest and the most organized sports industries across the world with major leagues such as NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, MLS and provides ample opportunities to expand the off-field experience to on-field experience.

The uniqueness of the course at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center lies in its multi-dimensional course structure that focuses not only on the multiple facets of sports but also gives the business subjects its due importance. The key highlight of the course that I have experienced in my rather short tenure here is the strong bond between the Center and its alumni. In my two months here, I have had an opportunity to interact with numerous alumni who have been supportive and helpful in helping me understand the market and pave a path for myself in the sports industry here (though that is far from done, I can say for sure that I have taken my first step towards it).

How is life apart from the MBA program?

Well the program has so much to offer, especially in the first half of the term, that taking out time for other activities becomes a challenge. Did I just scare you off? Frankly, it is tiring- but we did pull out time to host group activities twice a week, participate in intramural soccer tournament, play tennis on weekends and a long enough trip along the coast. It’s basically about lasting through the first half of the term and the sailing is pretty smooth once the first hurdle is crossed. The two week long orientation, right at the start of the course, prepares you well enough and gives you a taste of how things are going to be in the first term. My advice would be: Hang in there.

Plan after the course?

I plan to steadily work towards building my profile during the course, with relevant project and internship experiences and in the process, strengthen my network. At the end of the course, I would ideally like to see myself in a business development-consulting role or in the Global Product Marketing domain. My long-term goal is to return to the country of my origin and help create a ‘sporty-er’ country. I would have achieved my dream if I could do my bit in creating a structured sports industry in India, which would encourage and reward true genuine sports talent and not let them fade away into obscurity.

Advice to those looking at the course:

Dream big and follow those dreams- for no dream is ever too big and no dreamer is ever too small! Give your dream the best shot you’ve got and the results would follow.

Written by Aaditya Chauhan

Aaditya is a first year UO MBA student attending the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. His inclination towards Sports Marketing led him half way across the globe to pursue the Sports MBA course at University of Oregon. Having a background in Business development and Analytics, he looks forward to pursuing a career in Business development consulting or Event management within the Sports industry.