Center for Sustainable Business Practices

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.

Catalyst

Snow was falling softly on the ground in the parking lot outside of the police station as my phone went off. I had just finished a meeting with Flagstaff PD regarding their strategy of “community policing” in the wake of a fallen officer. The meeting still on my mind, I answered a call from Paul Allen, UO’s Director of Admissions, which led to my acceptance into Oregon MBA. As I started my car and defrosted my windshield, I breathed a victorious sigh. I was going to business school.

Some might say that I had a wild roving youth, and one which doesn’t translate well to paper.

Singing for 'We Were There' in winter 2014

Singing for ‘We Were There’, winter 2014

Recognizing this shortcoming, I threw myself into creating the case for why I was a prime candidate to leave my current path and get on the Oregon trail. All of my community-college-attending, essay-editing, resume-tweaking, and GMAT re-taking efforts were steps toward rebranding myself and building that case. The funny part of the whole process? It’s what doesn’t translate well to paper that translates best to the program itself.

A large part of our discussions at Oregon are retrospective and reflective. Every day we are encouraged to synthesize our considerable learning in the light of our direct experience. After all, if you cannot find personal relevance with the material, you will not understand it properly. Different minds subjected to different training, interpret the same data differently (duh). The fun part of the program is collaborating with my peers to combine these interpretations and create additional value.

It is here that I find that my wide and varied skill set aids me most. My background in education allows me to facilitate group discussion for effective decision-making. My work as a tour manager aids me immensely in understanding accounting and finance, while experience as an event planner gives me the linear mindset required for project management. I draw from my time as a punk rock front man to be a commanding presenter, and my experience in the tattoo industry taught me that innovation is iteration. Buffalo Wild Wings taught me supply chain, while Criollo Latin Kitchen taught me supply chain integration. Hosting taught me capacity management, serving taught me how to segment markets, and bartending showed me that hustle is scarce and hunger is your greatest asset

Visiting Theo Chocolate with the OMBA, winter 2016

Visiting Theo Chocolate with the OMBA, winter 2016

Most importantly, however, was the time I spent as a crisis responder for victim’s rights. Becoming a crisis responder was one of my last projects before coming to the OMBA, inspired by last year’s civil unrest and a heightened consciousness of gender issues. Crisis response taught me that risk is ever present and many a well thought out deal goes bad. Crisis response causes me to remember that there is a much larger world outside of the Oregon MBA, one which is created at the community level, and one which demands conscious change agents.

If I could, I would go back to that parking lot and ask myself, “How does your experience color the way you process information? How do you leverage your insight into effective leadership? How do you find freedom in focus?” The answers to these questions are those which show a person’s true quality beyond their worth on paper. Yet, I know I would never have been able to answer them before coming here.

Written by Joey Jaraczewski

Jaraczewski joins the Oregon MBA with a passion for changing the food industry. He grew up in rural Arizona and has spent the past four years exploring the world of food from multiple angles. He’s worked as a server and bartender in Flagstaff and traveled across the country visiting farms, feedlots, food distribution warehouses, and retailers. As an Oregon MBA on the sustainability track, Jaraczewski plans to build on that experience to explore ways to build a more sustainable food system for generations to come. Jaraczewski will graduate as an Oregon MBA with the class of 2017.

Green is the New Black

What do a clothing retailer and a premium chocolatier have in common? A lot more than I thought!

On the Oregon MBA’s recent experiential learning trip to Seattle, I got to see two very different businesses both using environmental responsibility to grow their bottom line—Green Eileen through post-consumer product responsibility and Theo Chocolate through supply chain management.

For the first visit, we headed south to Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood looking for the west coast retail outlet of Green Eileen–Eileen Fisher’s “recycled clothing initiative.” The Green Eileen arm collects, processes, and sells already worn Eileen Fisher clothing in excellent condition—called “seconds” by Green Eileen. I was expecting the store to feel and look like a second hand store, but it has a boutique, spa-chic feeling and features a revolving dry cleaning rack that adds an industrial design element to their inventory display.

Green Eileen TourWe met with Megan Arnaud, Retail Leader in Seattle, who shared her impressive depth of knowledge about the overall corporate responsibility mission of Eileen Fisher. She acknowledged, “We are a teeny tiny tip of an incredibly big iceberg,” within the overall clothing industry, but “we feel a responsibility for the whole lifecycle” of their products. Eileen Fisher is not only committed to environmental responsibility, but are also using their “seconds” to open a new sales market. The Green Eileen model serves as a new, more effective, way to reach a younger market segment—a demographic Eileen Fisher would like to reach, but currently doesn’t have in its traditional customer base.

Over in the Green Eileen recycling center in a very cool old warehouse in the SODO area of Seattle, we met Patty Liu, Recycling Program Leader at Green Eileen. It was impossible not to get excited as she drove home the possibilities inherent in thinking nimbly about dealing with Eileen Fisher “seconds.”  Through the Green Eileen store, pop-up sales at the recycling center warehouse, and planned expansions to factory stores and internet sales, Green Eileen is reaching previously untapped demand for high quality, sustainable fashion from a younger market segment. By embracing the challenge to internalize responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, they have started to create a new market for both their product and their mission. Patty shared, “You really have to invest and believe in what you’re doing to drive other people to see value.”

Theo Chocolate TourLater in the afternoon, across town in the Fremont neighborhood, we piled out of the van into the Theo Chocolate Factory and outfitted ourselves with hairnets and beardnets to begin a tour inside the closest thing any of us will ever come to Willy Wonka’s factory. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, funny, and generous with the chocolate samples as we learned Theo’s history and current supply chain processes and commitments. Feeling worlds away from the retail fashion world, I nonetheless started hearing a very similar story from what we had heard in the morning—taking environmental and social responsibility for your product can help you reach whole new market segments and grow your bottom line. While Green Eileen is focused on Eileen Fisher’s post-consumer product responsibility, at Theo, their focus is on supply chain responsibility.

Theo uses both direct interaction and third party certification to ensure social and environmental responsibility at every single step of its supply chain. Of their suppliers, our tour guide explained, “People want to work with us because there’s the immediate benefit of people making more money,” due to the higher price premium fair trade and organic ingredients command. On the customer side, Theo enjoys a price premium compared to conventional chocolate bars, but tries to keep the price point at a level that is accessible for people to treat themselves.

MBA Seattle trip 2016The biggest take away from the day (besides the six pounds of chocolate samples I ate throughout the tour) was a reinforced appreciation for social and environmental sustainability as a powerful business tool to drive both mission-related impacts AND a company’s bottom line. Despite the competitive advantage both companies enjoy from their practices, it was energizing to hear both companies’ desires to share the lessons and tools they’ve found along the way with others in their industries. In Patti’s words, “Do I hope other companies will see what we’re doing and try to do it, too?  Well, yeah!!”

 

 

Written by Kate Hammarback

Kate is a 2017 MBA/MPA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Originally from Wisconsin, Kate graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with a political science degree and spent time working in state and national politics before pivoting to nonprofit resource and program development. Kate is an active member of LiveMove and Net Impact and is happiest when working at the intersection of policy, planning, and business development through social and sustainable enterprise. After graduation, she plans to work where she can use finance and sustainability strategy to impact the triple bottom line.

#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.

Growing a Sustainable Diet

Ori Shavit Israeli VegansThe first quarter of the Oregon MBA offers unique opportunities to use the lens of business for cultural discovery. On the morning of November 18th, I had the privilege of Skyping with Ori Shavit, an Israeli food critic and cook turned vegan activist. During the conversation, we spoke at length about sustainable diets, about the passion and drama of the restaurant industry, and about using influence to be a catalyst for change.

In sustainability circles, the impact of the food and agricultural industry is a touchy subject. While the petroleum industry is an easy villain to target, many overlook the livestock industry’s contribution to emissions and ocean acidification. By choosing not to eat animal products, one can reduce their carbon footprint double as much over, say, choosing not to drive a vehicle. The simple reality is that people balk at the idea of switching to a meatless diet, with the idea that their food would just not taste as good.

Ori Shavit also regarded the vegan diet with wariness. Ori was an editor and writer for Al Hasulchan, the leading gastronomic publication of Israel. As a food critic, not only her lifestyle but her livelihood depended on the richness of food and on the vibrancy of the restaurant experience. This job contained a great deal of responsibility. Not only would her writings make or break a restaurant’s customer traffic, they also had a long term effect on the direction of the Israeli palate and a culture’s palate is a key indicator of their level of physical health.

In the pages of VegansOnTop.com and as a TEDx speaker, Ori is quick to point out that an animal-based diet has implications on a culture’s spiritual health as well. Israel is actually a net exporter of dairy products, as well as citrus and tomatoes. Many consumers are ignorant of the cruelty involved in the process of growing meat, eggs, and dairy products. For a culture like Israel’s, which is sensitive to mass-cruelty by their very history, the Israeli Ori Shavit TedXvegan movement maintains that it is unacceptable to be complicit in such violence. The idea is gaining traction: Israel now ranks as the country with the most people identifying as vegan per capita, and Tel Aviv has a vibrant vegan restaurant culture.

Ori Shavit has been a crucial part of this process. As a self-proclaimed “hedonist” and food lover, she has had to work hard to ensure that her passion for the culinary arts would not be sacrificed by her switch to veganism. For instance, she was instrumental in the vegan “pop-up” restaurant scene, where chefs changed the menu of their upscale establishment for one night and sold a prix-fixe menu to huge crowds. The draw for these events proved to mid-level restauranteurs that the demand was there, and they adjusted their menus accordingly. Now, there are even vegan restaurants opening in the back country (the “Kibbutz”). Every step of the way, Ori has used her influence in the industry to both grow demand and maintain it. This includes a creating and preparing the menu for the Israeli Parliament’s very first vegan lunch, a highlight of her career.

I believe that the restaurant industry is a mirror of its values, especially in terms of what it does and doesn’t view as “food.” In Israel, the legitimacy of vegan cuisine has translated to a shift in supply in the food industry at large. Dairy producers are now offering more dairy-free milks and cheeses, and 30% of Israelis have reportedly loweredIsraeli Vegan Food their consumption of animal products. All of this points to the power of the individual, which Ori Shavit is a firm believer in. That is to say, she is a firm believer in the purchasing power of many like-minded individuals, and her movement is a movement of the people. In a world of seven billion consumers, where many feel powerless in the face of environmental and social degradation, Ori has a message of hope: eat, eat consciously, and eat well!

 

Ori Shavit will be a visiting speaker at the University of Oregon in late March or early April.

Written by Joey Jaraczewski

Jaraczewski joins the Oregon MBA with a passion for changing the food industry. He grew up in rural Arizona and has spent the past four years exploring the world of food from multiple angles. He’s worked as a server and bartender in Flagstaff and traveled across the country visiting farms, feedlots, food distribution warehouses, and retailers. As an Oregon MBA on the sustainability track, Jaraczewski plans to build on that experience to explore ways to build a more sustainable food system for generations to come. Jaraczewski will graduate as an Oregon MBA with the class of 2017.

How the Net Impact “Game On” Conference was a Game Changer

 

Chelsea Clinton at NI15For first year MBA students interested in sustainable business practices, the Net Impact Conference is a must have experience. The Net Impact Conference gives a well-rounded view of how sustainable business practices function in the real world and how a shift towards sustainability can alleviate many economic and social plights the world currently REI Opt Outsidefaces. In addition to the outstanding networking and career search opportunities, the Chelsea Clinton, Jerry Stritzke (REI), Cliff Burrows (Starbucks), and Daniel Lubetsky (KIND Snacks).

 

A favorite session among the Oregon MBAs was “Conservation Finance: Investing in Nature at Scale,” led by Joe Whitworth and Oregon Alum David Chen. David Chen is the CEO of Equilibrium Capital, a firm, “that David Chenbuilds sustainability-driven real assets investment strategies, funds, and products that generate institutional-quality returns and scale to investors”. The session was a mixture of lecture and group workshop that allowed us to learn from Whitworth and Chen, tackle problems they presented, and then receive feedback to the solutions our teams brainstormed. Most exciting for me, was the ability for Whitworth and Chen to fuse monetary value and conservation into a package which both provides return for investors and measurable ecosystem services.

 

One of the most compelling sessions that I attended was put on by CollaborateUp, a consulting firm that aims to bring people and companies together to solve big problems. In the workshop, “Nourshing 9 Billion Challenge: Planting the STEM in Food,” groups of 5 were teamed with an expert from Google, Monsanto, or Starbucks and pitted against each other to find solutions for integrating science, technology, engineering, and math education (STEM) into resolutions for feeding the planet. My team was composed of industry professionals, MBA students from all over the United States, and Mary Wagner, a Senior Vice President at Starbucks. This workshop reminded me of Sports Matters Panel at NI15the work we do at the Oregon MBA and reinforced my satisfaction with my choice and my cohort. Much like the Oregon MBA, my team had educational and cultural diversity that, paired with the expertise of Mary, aided in a strong presentation of our final solution.

 

Net Impact Conference 2015 SeattleThe Net Impact Conference was my first opportunity to see first-hand how sustainability initiatives and business come together. As a biologist with virtually no prior business education or experience, it is reassuring to see that social and environmental problems are becoming a top priority for many companies. These shifts in priorities are exciting and meaningful. The work being done by many innovative thinkers and practitioners are successfully creating shared value solutions that are more profitable than their archaic counterparts. The conference gave new insights into the types of careers available for sustainable business MBA’s and instilled in me a whole new perspective in creatively solving some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental matters.

Written by Eric Parsons

Parsons is a biologist with hospital-lab and field-research experience looking to integrate sustainability into mainstream corporations. Most recently, he served as a field technician for the Belize Raptor Research Institute and performed a study on migrating neotropical raptors. In that role, he identified migrating raptors, produced reports analyzing daily activities and assisted with public outreach. Through the Oregon MBA, Parsons plans to develop the skills necessary to integrate conservation biology with corporate sustainability programs to create value for the business and protect the environment. After graduation, he plans to create sustainability initiatives for companies with interests in neotropical regions or healthcare.

A Vietnamese Summer Internship

Xin Chao! (Hello)

This summer I had a very educational experience working as a sustainability intern for one of the largest bag manufactures in the world. Pungkook Corporation (PK) is a Korean company founded in 1966 and headquartered in Soul. Like most other Korean manufacturing companies PK moved its entire manufacturing south for cheaper labor. PK has seven manufacturing facilities in Vietnam and two in Indonesia. They have 70+ customers some of which include Nike, Adidas, Eastpak, VF group, Cabelas, Oakley, Marmot, North Face, and L.L. Bean.

For two months I lived on site at the PK Vietnam IMG_4229headquarters just outside of Ho Chi Minh City. If being in Vietnam wasn’t enough, I worked with both Korean and Vietnamese employees, which made for an interesting environment (if you want to hear more about that, lets grab a coffee). My project? I flew to Vietnam vaguely knowing that I would be doing some sort of analysis of energy and or carbon.

My project turned out to be much more than expected, but I accepted the challenge head on! Here are the projects I took on in the short two months:

  • Conducted an energy footprint analysis for one manufacturing facility. Created an Excel energy footprint template for PK to use in measuring their other manufacturing facilities.
  • Assisted the Social & Environmental Affairs (SEA) team with implementing water metering on site and constructing an action plan for future water usage. Conducted lighting assessment and calculated saving gained from investing in LED lights.
  • Reviewed Adidas 2014 audit of Environmental Key Performance Indicators (EKPI) and assisted with ensuring that 2015 compliance was met and future targets were established.
  • Contributed in the planning phase of a Human Resource Management (HRM) system and Operational Productivity System (OPS) merger. PK wanted to automate daily decisions such as assigning employees to manufacturing lines based on skills.
  • Coordinated with multiple departments to build a list of potential employee incentives to help increase productivity of the overall factory (productivity metrics are kind of a big deal).

IMG_4254The time management, presentation, and Excel skills the MBA program helped me develop during my first year came in very handy this summer. I appreciate the opportunity to gain more experience in Asia and to expand my network of professionals in sports products and I look forward to applying what I learned to another year of school, go Ducks!

Written by Jacob Lewis

Jacob is a second year UO MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). He is an Oregon native but enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures. He is passionate about sports, renewable energy, new technology, and fun aesthetics (.. oh, cooking and beer too!).

Sport and Sustainability: An Oregon Specialty

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 6.07.44 PMThe Eugene Sport and Sustainability Initiative (ESSI) is an innovative public private partnership between the City of Eugene (City) and the Council for Responsible Sport (Council). Through this partnership, the City uses the Council’s sporting event certification system to transform the sporting event industry by reducing the environmental impacts while maximizing the social benefits of sporting events. The certification process helps to advance community sustainability programs and incentivize new, green business opportunities. The certification process also promotes healthy, active lifestyles and access and equity.

I was tasked with researching individual, foundation, and corporate donors to help expand the efforts of the ESSI and the reach of the Council’s certification. I researched about 100 funding leads, including ones with local, national, and international interests. It was interesting and challenging trying to match trusts and foundations with giving goals that aligned with the mission and needs of the ESSI. I am happy to report that ESSI staff has started to pursue several of the grant leads identified in my report.

If you have the time, check out the Council for Responsible Sport’s website to see how they support, certify, and celebrate responsible sport. Or check out this article from Sports Planning Guide for further reading on sustainable sports in Eugene.

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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.

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.

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.