Oregon MBA

Reflections on a Case Competition

Ok, deep breath, you got this, 15 minutes and it’s all over. This is what was going through my head right before presenting in the final round of the Simon Fraser University Sustainability Challenge. This was my first live case competition and I never thought our team would get this far. We were three Americans, competing in Canada, in a business and cultural setting we knew little about despite the similarities between our countries.

When we first heard about the SFU Sustainability Challenge, my team including Seth Lenaerts, Leah Goodman, and I, were all excited. We saw it as a great opportunity to compete in an international live case competition with a focus on sustainability.  Once we saw the case, however, we knew it was going to test our education, business ethics, and values. The case prompt was to provide feasibility and pre-engagement advice to the FortisBC team with respect to the potential for natural gas conversions in First Nations communities on Vancouver Island. Our initial reaction was, “are we supposed to market natural gas to First Nation communities?” It was difficult to see the link to sustainability and tested our ethics.

Feeling confused and a bit disheartened we sought guidance from a couple of advisors. We were questioning our values and trying to decide what our next step should be. Upon re-reading the case we realized we were not being asked to come up with a marketing plan but to consider if natural gas could be an option for these communities, what these communities’ values were, and how these related to the natural gas company. Once we realized this, we were reenergized and dove back into the case, viewing it as a challenge to bring environmental values to a fossil fuel company.

Incorporating sustainability into our proposal was not the only challenge we faced. We were also dealing with the cultural differences between Canada and the United States. Canada is a big proponent of natural gas as a clean energy source whereas our group still viewed it as an extractive fossil fuel. We were also playing catch up on the cultural context and understanding the history and relationship of First Nation communities in Canada. While these challenges hampered our understanding of the case initially, having an outsider’s perspective may have helped us in the end.

Our team worked wonderfully together, building off each other’s ideas and helping each other understand the nuances of the case. When someone struggled with an idea or concept we would take the time to go over the issue and ensure everyone was on the same page, often leading to a breakthrough in how we structured our case. Our finalized product was something we could all be proud of, a values-driven suggestion on how FortisBC could use renewable natural gas (something they were currently offering at a premium) to these First Nation communities.

When we made it to Canada we weren’t quite sure what to expect. During the opening ceremony, we were chosen as the first to present the following day. We quickly returned to our hotel room and practiced our presentation until we knew it backwards and forwards. We felt good about our presentation but were not confident we would move onto finals.

The next morning, we got ready, practiced once more, and headed off to present. Wow, that was rough. We were torn apart by the questions the judges asked us. We recognized our weaknesses: some points weren’t supported enough, some examples not fleshed out, some questions we simply couldn’t answer. At that point, it was hard to focus on what we did well, especially without getting to see other presentations for comparison. We decided that no matter what, this was a valuable experience and at least we would be able to see the final presentations to learn what a winning presentation would look like.

After a few hours exploring beautiful Vancouver we came back to hear who would move onto the finals. Four finalists were chosen, each picked out of a cup in dramatic fashion to determine what order teams would present in. Once the third name had been called our team was pretty convinced we were not going to be picked; we were happy to simply enjoy the other presentations and learn from our competitors. Then it happened, they called our name “Sustainasaurus.” We were to be the last finalist presentation!

A variety of emotions passed through our group from disbelief and excitement about making it to the finals to disappointment that we would be unable to see any other presentations. After taking in this new information we quickly made our way downstairs where we would spend the next two hours practicing our presentation and working on answering those tough questions we faced during the first round.

And now here I am, taking a deep breath and about to step out in front of the panel of judges and students. Our presentation went well. Again, we were faced with tough questions, many of which we could answer well, some of which we had no answer for. We then took a seat ready to hear the judges overall feedback for the day.

We all got it wrong. Almost every single team managed to read the case incorrectly. We were never asked for a plan on how natural gas could work for First Nation communities. We were asked what information the company needed to gather in order to make their own plan. The entire audience of students sat stunned once we heard that. A case that did not require a plan of action? Being MBA students meant we were trained to associate presenting cases with presenting solutions. The judges went on to give us more feedback on how the teams could have performed better, what information could have been included and what information should not have been.

We reflected on what had just happened and were reeling from some of the feedback we had heard. We felt good about our presentation but had no context on how we compared to others. We didn’t know if the judges only hit us with the tough questions or if everyone had faced those. We didn’t even know what other teams had proposed to see if what we said was even viable.

Walking into the ending ceremony felt amazing. There was a giant sense of relief that presentations were over and that, no matter what, we had made it to the finals. When they began to announce the winners, there was a sudden hush around the room as we all crowded around the podium.

“Third place goes to team Sustainasaurus.”

No one has been more excited to receive third place then us. We quickly found each other in the room and made it up to the podium. For the rest of the night people kept coming up and congratulating us; we could not have been happier! We made positive connections with other competitors and professionals within the industry, several of whom we are looking to work with in the future.

We learned a lot from this experience and are eagerly looking forward to taking that knowledge with us when competing in future case competitions.

Written by Llyswen Berna

Llyswen is a 2018 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. She is a motivated individual with extensive leadership experience and a passion for sustainability. Most recently, she worked on the quality assurance team at Epic, a top healthcare software company. Before that, she was an AmeriCorps volunteer, where she advised low-income students about getting into and through college. At Oregon, Llyswen plans to build on her skills in project management and sustainable business practices. After graduation, she’s interested in consulting with companies and nonprofits to develop sustainable business strategies.

The Path to a Powerful Cause Marketing Campaign

Times are a-changin’. No longer can a company skirt around their moral code. More and more, customers are demanding products and services that serve a greater moral purpose or stand for something good. This doesn’t mean companies can do one project or one campaign and claim they are a purpose-driven organization. Consumers are smarter than that. They can sniff out inauthentic approaches like a bloodhound. At the same time, companies shouldn’t be compelled to hide their efforts to keep their valiant efforts anonymous. On the contrary, now more than ever it is important to communicate what they’re doing to contribute to a better world. So how do you approach mission-based marketing in a unique, genuine way? I’m on a mission to find out. Below is are three considerations for companies struggling with this issue. Throughout this article, you’ll hear from an expert on the topic – Molly Malloy, Director of Brand Purpose Planning at Futerra. Futerra calls themselves a “Change Agency” and for good reason. They are “McKinsey meets McCann” – always on the cutting edge of combining Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consulting and communications to deliver complete solutions for companies that are serious about making a change and amplifying their existing efforts.

“Don’t put lipstick on a pig” – this one seems obvious, right? However, companies are still taking a “greenwashing” approach to sustainability efforts on the reg. Many times, this isn’t an evil plot to fool consumers into buying into their fake mission. Executives may have the best of intentions, but aren’t putting the tools in place to really deliver on their promise. According to Molly, “consumers must feel a company’s desire is sincere to make a real change.” To ensure their clients are doing just that, Futerra and their clients put a lot of time into determining how they will implement initiatives that have real impact. This is built into their DNA. Their “logic” team is made up of sustainability and social impact experts that help clients implement the actual programs. The “magic” team (including Molly’s role) creates strategies to accurately communicate this idea internally and externally. The biggest takeaway? Don’t just say you’ll do it, actually do it. Commit to change and implement it. Then communicating it will come (relatively) easy.

Make it personal – One of the challenges I found in my research, and something Futerra confirmed their clients also face, is simply how to make more people care. “For a lot of brands, it isn’t enough to go after the hardcore environmentalists or social activists, we want to affect change by bringing these messages to the mainstream market. We’re constantly striving to scale these initiatives and campaigns. That’s how we make the biggest impact.” Molly explained. How do you do that? Make the issue personal and get creative. A lot of the problems our world faces are nameless and sometimes halfway around the world. How can you establish a connection? One example of how Futerra overcame this obstacle was through their work with the UN and their Wild for Life campaign. They realized that it was hard for people to care about wild life poaching since it was so far removed from a lot of people. They solved this problem by creating a quiz to find out what your “spirit animal” is, personifying and creating an emotional connection to the issue. They promoted it through partnerships with celebrities who disclosed their own spirit animals. Case and point – don’t assume people care already. Get them to care by establishing a connection with the issue using unique tactics and channels.

Do your research and establish meaningful partnerships – In 2012, Susan G. Komen Foundation and Baker Hughes Inc., an oil and fracking company, partnered up on a campaign to distribute pink drill bits to job sites around the country to increase awareness of breast cancer. I’m sure you can predict how this story ended. Since fracking is associated with cancer, both organizations suffered major backlash for this campaign.* To avoid making the wrong partnerships or promoting an initiative that may not align with your mission, do your research. “Not only do we look at data concerning consumer behavior, we reach out to experts that can inform how we approach our strategies.” Social, political, environmental, and social issues are highly charged. Admitting a gap in knowledge and seeking out credible information to fill that void is crucial. Consumers are always more informed than you think. Do everything you can to explore the range of topics associated with the initiative and seek out experts that may have opposing viewpoints. This will give valuable insight into the complex nature of these issues and how you approach solutions and communications strategies.

Authenticity, scalability and insatiable curiosity are essential to developing a successful CSR strategy and communication plan. However, every company and approach is unique. The most important question to ask yourself before pursuing these types of initiatives is “Why?”. Why are you doing it? If it’s to earn more revenue – re-evaluate. Consumers will pick up on the reason behind the campaign. Change may be scary, but companies shouldn’t shy away from the challenge. According to Molly – “Brands have to know, right now, what they stand for. If they don’t communicate their values, they are falling behind.”




Written by Alison O'Shaughnessy

Ali is a 2018 MBA from the Center of Sustainable Business Practices. She spent most of her career working in digital marketing for non-profit clients in New York City. After graduating, she plans on combining her expertise in marketing with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her altruistic values.

Don’t Forget About Your Company’s Best Ally: Culture

Do you work for a startup company that is forming its business foundation? A mid-size company experiencing growing pains as they scale-up? Or a large company hoping to make a major organizational shift?  At all levels, you may be focusing on the numbers, the what and the how; but are you remembering to think about the why? At the core of your business lies the company’s mission, values, and culture. Every leader in the company surely knows the why — why did we open, why is what we do important, and the why behind each and every thing that we do.  Too frequently though, this simple why is not a part of a company’s process. This blog will break this down into three simple steps crucial to leading your company through challenges that you may be facing, with culture as your key ally in the process.

Step 1) Align: You – the leader – are facing a dilemma. Before you act, first look at the why. As a leader, you eat, sleep and breathe the mission, values, and strategy of your company, but have you thought about this dilemma in the context of the bigger issues? Too often we approach a micro-problem with a micro-solution, when really, this small problem is an indicator of an opportunity for a macro-solution. Take for example, in the context of a growing startup, an employee who is complaining about not knowing the guy who works across the desk from him. Your knee-jerk solution might involve introducing the two. Consider, however, that this may be an indicator of something more going on;  could it be a micro-example of the growing pains that your small business is experiencing as the culture of the company is changing?  Is this evolving work culture in alignment with your company’s strategy?  Before reacting to this scenario, you have the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of growth that your startup is facing and what cultural implications these may have.

Step 2) Ask: Our earlier example feeds nicely into step two. You need to take inventory of the rest of your employees. How is the growth feeling from their perspectives? What is their perception of the company’s culture?  In fact, from a social constructivist point-of-view, the company’s culture is defined – even created – by the mutual understanding of your company’s social values across employees. You really need to know the culture, inside and out, and employee engagement is fundamental to this understanding.  Don’t forget to find out the good along with the bad; it is all a part of the organizational culture and will be important in our last step.

Step 3) Adapt: The last step is to evaluate and decide how to evolve as a company. If your business is changing, maybe it’s necessary to accept the hard realization that the culture you started with might just need to change too. Or, on the contrary, if your original culture is still key to your company’s mission and values, then maybe you don’t need to change the culture but instead must figure out how to sustain it within your growing company. Whichever direction you go, realize that a company is never static, and neither is its culture. Cultural adaptability could be the missing puzzle piece for how your startup can grow, but to find that piece, you must start from step one.

Now that you understand these three steps, bring them to whatever dilemma your company is facing and view it with a fresh perspective. You have the opportunity to influence your company’s culture in a way that will reinforce your company’s mission, values and strategy. The result? A long-lasting company with a differentiated and ever-evolving organizational culture.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

Warsaw is Family: Reflecting on the 2017 National Sports Forum Case Cup

In early December, I was presented with the opportunity to be part of a team that would represent the University of Oregon and the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the NSF Case Cup Competition. Knowing the magnitude of the National Sports Forum, the challenging format of the competition, and the stiff competition we would face, I hesitantly accepted the offer to fly into the middle of a Minnesotan winter.

The NSF Case Cup is a Masters level case-style competition held each year at the National Sports Forum. The competition is an opportunity for Masters students to compete in a multidisciplinary sports business case study in which teams are given 24 hours to tackle a challenging, real-world sports business problem that simulates the challenges we will face as we begin our professional careers.

This year, Luke Nofsinger, Danielle Barbian, Kelly O’Shaughnessy and myself were tasked with strategically utilizing Major League Soccer’s recent partnership with SeatGeek to boost revenue at Sporting Kansas City, one of the most successful clubs in the MLS. With just 24 hours to understand the case, complete research, brainstorm solutions and produce a 20-minute presentation, the competition was a fast-paced blur that consisted of only three hours of sleep and far too much coffee and junk food. As challenging and exhausting as the competition was, it was all made worth it when we were fortunate enough to be awarded first place, bringing the trophy back to Eugene for the second time.

The victory was definitely a proud moment for our team. We were not only excited to be recognized for our efforts but also proud to have been able to showcase the strength of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center and the Oregon MBA on a national stage. Heading to Minneapolis, we felt that the academic and experiential learning opportunities provided to us over the last 1.5 years positioned us to be successful at the Case Cup. The extensive exposure to industry and the seemingly endless amount of group work and presentations that we have tackled through our coursework meant we were unfazed by the format of the competition and were able to approach the problem collaboratively and strategically. I can confidently say that our success at the National Sports Forum came from not only the combined talents and experiences of our team, but also from the experiences within the Oregon MBA that have helped us grow and develop into the young professionals we are today.

Perhaps the biggest thing that stuck with me upon leaving Minnesota though had little to do with the Case Cup itself. The support and camaraderie that existed within the alumni of the Warsaw program made a big impact on me. We were lucky enough to be joined by a handful of Warsaw alum at the conference and from the moment we arrived the team felt part of a larger family. This Warsaw community exists across the country and to me has been one of the biggest factors in my enjoyment and success in this program.

The NSF Case Cup Competition was definitely a valuable learning experience for me and my teammates but I think the real value of my time in Minneapolis were the connections I made with industry professionals, alumni and other students. It is one of many experiences that have been afforded me through the Oregon MBA that continue to reaffirm my decision to cross the Pacific Ocean and join the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. With just over three months until I graduate from this program and all the uncertainty that comes with the job search process, it’s comforting to know that wherever I end up, I will always be a part of the Warsaw Center and Oregon MBA families.


Written by Nick Hudson

Nick is a 2nd year MBA student in the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sport Marketing Center. Born in Australia, Nick has worked in events and sponsorship with Tennis Australia, Wasserman and the Prefontaine Classic and previously in a management consulting capacity with Deloitte. Upon graduation in June 2017, Nick hopes to return to the world of sports sponsorship and marketing with an agency or sports property.

Making a Case for Change

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to the failed attempts at implementing an initiative you feel passionate about. You are certain it’s going to bring positive change in a variety of ways, but can’t seem to get others on board. You’ve all but given up on your noble crusade. Fear not brave change-agents. Below are tactics that can help you get buy in with upper management and move you toward responsibilities that don’t make you want to run for the door at 5 pm on the dot.

Do your research.

The biggest mistake you can make is stating a claim without backing it up.  According to Sean Ryan in Harvard Business Review, people have something called a “negativity bias,” which means we’re more risk averse than risk taking. “The average person requires a gain twice the value of the potential loss,” so hedge your bets by being over-prepared. Show, don’t tell, why you think your initiative is important to the future of the company.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People famously wrote “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Rather than thinking about it from your perspective, put yourself in their shoes and frame the issue to address their motivations and concerns.  Is this person only trying to hit the bottom line? If so, is there a way to frame this as a revenue generating opportunity? Are they worried about competitive forces? If so, can you use your initiative as a way to differentiate and get ahead of those competitors?

You’ll Need Back Up

Teamwork makes the dream work, people. As cliché as it sounds, this holds true when you’re trying to sell something to upper management. On top of showing your boss you have support, gathering expertise from multiple areas strengthens your ideas. Don’t just ask your work husband for help, recruit those with influence that are most likely to get on board with your idea. Map out your network and organize it into four categories as shown below and determine your game plan to get the key potential supporters on board.

Two birds meet one stone

The other night, I decided to go out rather than go to the gym. We ended up dancing for a few hours and I woke up sore – no workout necessary! You know how good it feels to accomplish more than one goal with one action. So does your boss. Chances are, if you think your idea is worthy of your boss’s attention, it satisfies a greater need that they are already trying to address. This is called “bundling”. According to Ashford and Dutton, by bundling, “a seller taps into resources and communication currency the other issue may have.” In other words, your company wouldn’t have to start from square one. If there are already efforts in place that you can apply to your initiative, use those to your advantage.

Have a great idea? Believe you could inspire change in your organization? Stop. Take a deep breath. You can do it, but you need a plan. Sit down and evaluate who you need to convince and how you can back yourself up both with facts and with people. Think about your organization’s existing initiatives and how you can pair yours with your boss’s priorities. The more prepared you are and the more passion you bring to this endeavor, the more successful you’ll be. You got this.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Alison O'Shaughnessy

Ali is a 2018 MBA from the Center of Sustainable Business Practices. She spent most of her career working in digital marketing for non-profit clients in New York City. After graduating, she plans on combining her expertise in marketing with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her altruistic values.

Innovation in Healthcare

The need for innovation

Prior to joining the University of Oregon MBA, I spent four years working for a medical clinic. One recurring problem I heard was generalized dissatisfaction with the healthcare system. Everyone felt the system was failing them. I heard it from all angles: patients, providers, and administrative staff.

Healthcare has increasing challenges to improve care access and quality to a growing population while simultaneously lowering costs and waste. To address these challenges, innovation is necessary. Innovation has the potential to create change in areas such as disease prevention, precision care, increase efficiency, organization improvement, and technology use. Despite its apparent need, the healthcare industry is behind in innovation and funding innovation.

Encouraging innovation

While innovation isn’t currently thriving in healthcare, I have optimism that it can with the right support. We are surrounded by individuals who have potential solutions. The next step is supporting these ideas and building them up for execution. This process requires collaboration and institutional support.

“Innovation is a team sport”; it does not happen in isolation. Healthcare companies need to create space for the key stakeholders including patients, providers, facilities, and administration to discuss productively. An example of this concept in action is Lyme Innovation, an organization who sponsor a series of cross-disciplinary hack-a-thons to solve issues related to Lyme disease.

Sustaining innovation

Sustainability, in terms of long term preservation, is necessary when developing innovative solutions so that we don’t need to solve the same problems repeatedly. Healthcare systems are increasingly complex and for a solution to be effective, it needs to fit the organization. A study showed that to have innovation success, processes need to demonstrate adaptability, added value, and measurability. The measurability is key to defending why innovative processes are valuable and using that to justify getting essential resources (including funding).

Maintaining innovation also requires continuous effort and infrastructure. To support this many organizations are creating specific teams to address innovation problems. For example, Providence health created a Health Strategy and Innovation group consisting of three distinct teams (Providence Ventures, Digital Innovation Group, and Consumer Innovation group) that work in tandem to fund, trial, and integrate innovative health processes and technologies.

Finally, as with any project the company culture needs to support innovative improvement. With the current frustration levels in healthcare, I think everyone is ready for solutions. If healthcare companies are ready to improve, the community will be ready to improve with them.







Written by Tabit Xthona

Tabit is a UO MBA student with the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Prior to joining the MBA she worked for a private medical clinic running pharmaceutical trials. Through her MBA, Tabit wants to explore how healthcare can reduce its environmental impact while improving care. Following graduation, Tabit plans to pursue a position with a healthcare organization that shares her passion for efficient and people focuses approaches to problems in the industry.

Your Next Promotion Could Depend on Emotional Intelligence

The latest round of promotions has come and gone, and surprisingly you’ve been passed up for an advancement opportunity. You’ve been staying late, producing high-quality work, and you even brought donuts for the office that one Tuesday. Surely, you deserved the promotion, yet you are still in the same role. This is a situation many young professionals find themselves in and the solution could be as simple as being in-tune with your emotions, or rather emotional intelligence (EQ).

Daniel Goleman popularized EQ in the mid-90’s and since then it has been a big discussion topic in business culture, especially when it comes to leadership. A key leadership trait is resolving conflict and businesses depend on EQ because often emotions are the source of conflict. EQ is the perceiving of your own emotions and the emotions of others and managing them in a productive and healthy way. So as a future leader, knowing how to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of others can be the difference between business success and business failure.

So how can you improve your own EQ so that you can better qualify for that next promotion opportunity? Here are five steps to help:

  • Reduce Negative Emotions: It’s ok to feel sad, afraid, or angry. These are normal, healthy emotions. However, letting these emotions get out-of-control is not healthy. Being able to reduce these negative emotions can help improve your EQ.
  • Stay Cool in Stressful Situations: Fact #1, work is stressful. Fact #2, losing your cool at work is not cool. Learning how to manage stress is a great way to boost your EQ. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress at work: get up and go for a quick walk, listen to some of your favorite tunes, etc. Find something that you can do to help reduce your own stress.
  • Be Assertive and Express Negative Emotions when Necessary: There are times when it is ok to express negative emotions such as anger or sadness. Learn how to recognize these opportunities and practice how to express these emotions in a helpful way.
  • Stay Proactive, not Reactive: It’s inevitable that you are going to work with someone you don’t like. Instead of feeling “stuck” in that relationship, take a proactive approach to addressing the issues of the relationship. Practice being empathetic toward that person to see things from their perspective.
  • Bounce Back from Adversity: A common saying in modern business culture is to “Fail Fast”. This means that you are sure to make a mistake at some point and it’s how you recover from these mistakes that really tells people who you are. If something doesn’t go right, quickly identify a solution or the lesson learned and then move on to the next thing.

Emotional intelligence isn’t something that you can change overnight. If you feel like you are lacking in this area, start practicing now. If you have a high EQ, keep practicing because it may make the difference in your next promotion.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Jesse Walker

Walker is a 2018 MBA and a natural leader with five years of marketing campaign development and project management experience. Most recently he served as a marketing manager for SolarWinds, an IT software provider, where he led cross-functional teams to grow the configuration and security product lines. Post-graduation, Walker plans to work for an outdoor product company, driving marketing efforts to create lifelong, loyal customers.

International Sustainability – How Traveling Around the World Impacts You at Home

This week I traveled the world digitally and dove into the environmental advancements and sustainability initiatives that are occurring in other countries.

EUROPE: Focus on Energy

I started off my tour in Europe and, unsurprisingly, the two countries that kept popping up as having advancements in sustainability were Denmark and Germany. While there are a variety of initiatives that the countries are looking into, there seemed to be a focus on energy. Recently, a new Danish wind turbine broke world records for energy production in a 24 hour period. This will allow for lower costs for wind energy as fewer turbines will need to be constructed. Wind energy is set to be a large part of Denmark’s plan to become fossil fuel free by 2050.

Germany has partnered with Sweden to install “electric roads.” These highways would allow freight trucks to transport goods long distances and still be fueled by electricity instead of gas. This would not only reduce the amount of emissions from these trucks but would also create an entirely sustainable process if the electricity is produced from renewable resources.

It will be interesting to see if these technologies can make it across the Atlantic to the United States. Think about how many homes the large windmill could provide energy. Imagine our interstates becoming electrified so that the transportation of goods becomes significantly more sustainable. The US should monitor the success of these innovative approaches and look for areas where we could one day implement these new technologies.

ASIA: Olympics have an Impact

I next moved onto Asia, and most information I found there in relation to sustainable business practices was about China and Japan. A common thread between the two is the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in both countries. China is focused on making as many sustainable choices as possible while Japan is collecting used electronics in order to make the Olympic medals.

China is reusing previous arenas in order to decrease the impact the Winter Olympics have on its environment. They also commit to building any new structures with sustainability in mind, using energy reducing technology whenever possible. In addition, any energy that is used for electricity, transportation, and operations will be solar or electric.

Japan’s innovative approach to creating the Olympic medals shows how creativity is important to sustainability. Most people would not look at an out of date cell phone and think it would one day become a gold medal, but someone did. This pioneering idea will hopefully remove 8,000 tons of used electronics from the waste stream.

This type of thinking, reusing what you already have, is the key to sustainability. Why build something new when something you already have will make do?

AUSTRALIA:  Renewables for All

There are the same number of solar panels in Australia as there are people in Australia. This is one of the big reasons why 2017 is set to be a huge year for Australia in terms of renewable energy projects. They are set to increase their renewable capacity by 2,250MW by the end of the year. In addition to these projects, 50% of Australian households are currently considering solar energy and storage.

Australia is breaking into the renewables sector and is going strong. While they may not compare to Germany or Denmark’s success, they are showing improvement and are sure to catch up soon. What if 50% of American households were considering solar? How can we get our country to this spot?

AFRICA: New Tech, New Solutions

Africa is extremely diverse in its levels of sustainability, depending on which country you visit. Some are just starting out while others have a pretty solid footing in the sector. One of the countries that seems to be making strides in coming up with new environmental technology is South Africa.

Scientists from a South African university have discovered a low-cost, low-tech way to filter water. Charcoal made from Eucalyptus can successfully filter out a significant number of toxins from water runoff. While this solution does not necessarily make the water potable, it can be used on runoff from farms to decrease the number of chemicals and pollutants that enter the ecosystem. The beauty of this fix is the low cost. Many people think that technology is the future and that to have clean water you are going to have to come up with advanced systems to do so, but this process in South Africa proves that is not the case.

The country is also opening a plant to turn waste into energy. They are going to burn their waste to create electricity and reduce the amount that goes into landfills. While this is not a new idea, it tends to be looked down upon, as it is believed that it would cause more pollution to enter the atmosphere through burning than it would save. This was one of the main concerns when this idea was proposed to a Massachusetts neighborhood and was a main factor in the refusal of the project. Since then, the EPA has actually refuted this idea and says that for each ton of waste burned a ton of GHGs do not enter the atmosphere.

While they may not seem like the fanciest technologies, these two innovations have the chance to have significant impacts. If American farmers started using charcoal to reduce pollution from runoff it would have a great impact on our environment. Burning waste might be a bit harder to sell on a residential level and I do not believe American society is quite ready to accept this technology. If advancements in capturing the emissions from this tech occur we may be able to move it to America.

SOUTH AMERICA: Entering into the Fray

South America was my last stop for the week, making it full circle back to the Western hemisphere. A common theme when exploring sustainability here was that there is a lot of untapped potential in South America.

Brazil has a chance to be a global leader in carbon reduction as it is currently one of the major producers. Its economy is growing, so there is room for new technology and new initiatives to take root and help reduce Brazil’s carbon emissions.

South America is one of the continents most heavily impacted by deforestation and yet there is a $200 billion annual opportunity for deforestation-free investments. If the supply chains for beef, palm oil, soy, and paper can become sustainable, it has the chance to reduce the world’s GHG emissions by 10%. This is a huge area of potential growth for South America.

Americans should support South American countries’ sustainability initiatives and potentially learn from them as well. American companies could have a huge impact if they would trace their supply chains and ensure that materials are being sourced deforestation-free. This would not only decrease the impact on the environment but also improve the economy.

My biggest takeaway for the week was that while we might not all be on the same level, we are all moving forward in our sustainability goals, and that gives me hope for the future.

Written by Llyswen Berna

Llyswen is a 2018 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. She is a motivated individual with extensive leadership experience and a passion for sustainability. Most recently, she worked on the quality assurance team at Epic, a top healthcare software company. Before that, she was an AmeriCorps volunteer, where she advised low-income students about getting into and through college. At Oregon, Llyswen plans to build on her skills in project management and sustainable business practices. After graduation, she’s interested in consulting with companies and nonprofits to develop sustainable business strategies.

Green Buildings: Bridging Health and Sustainability

I joined the 2018 MBA cohort in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices with a passion for the intersection of health and sustainability. The  connection between these two fields is not always obvious, and I would like to share some interesting highlights of  what I have learned and why it matters.

We often think of reducing resource consumption as a key part of sustainable management. According to the EPA, in the United States, buildings account for 39% of total energy use, 12% of the total water consumption, 68% of total electricity consumption, and 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions. Add to this that average Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Green buildings have emerged as a way to reduce resource consumption, and it turns out these buildings also improve human health! How can this be possible?

Let’s start by looking at what green building is. According to the US Green Building Council:

“The definition of green building: Green building is a holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as the people who inhabit buildings every day.”

The first part of that definition represents what we typically think – that green buildings are about energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and other environmental improvements. What I would like to focus on is the second part of the definition, the impact of green buildings on human health.

Recent studies suggest that working in a green building has measurable positive effects on cognitive performance, productivity, sleep quality, stress reduction, and overall wellness. Specifically, the COGfx Study found that cognitive testing scores doubled in LEED Certified green buildings. They coined the term “Buildingomics” and defined it as “a new approach that examines the totality of factors in the building-related environment that influence the human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in buildings” (http://naturalleader.com/thecogfxstudy/).


This relatively new school of thought has led to many companies implementing green workplaces in order to experience these health and productivity benefits, either by remodeling current facilities or ensuring new facilities are built with this in mind. For example, healthcare non-profit Kaiser Permanente has embraced this trend, working with AECOM on a hospital project in nearby Hillsboro, Oregon they built their first LEED Certified campus. It is not surprising healthcare organizations are eager to incorporate these projects, but beyond healthcare, The Society for Human Resource Management writes about the benefits of green buildings too, citing they can reduce sick leave, regulate both temperatures and noise, and remove air toxins (https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/green-workplaces.aspx). ForHealth has created the diagram below to illustrate the overlap of green buildings and healthy inhabitants.


Health is inexorably linked with sustainability. Yet, there is a tendency to think about the green movement on a macro level without understanding how it will impact each one of us. What I like about this recent study is that it provides concrete evidence for how one specific sustainability initiative – green buildings – has directly impacted human cognition and productivity.

So, why does this matter? The World Green Building Council sums it up well. “How do we accelerate energy efficient, environmentally sustainable, green building? We make it about people.” There is already strong environmental support behind the green movement, and now we can add another reason to get behind green efforts, and it’s something nearly everyone can rally for – our health!  Green buildings illustrate how health and sustainability can be neatly integrated, and remind us that increasing the number of people who are behind green initiatives will help guarantee a healthy environment for present and future generations.






https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/green-workplaces.aspx  (photo cred collage photo 1)

http://www.ambiusindoorplants.com.au/why-plants/case-studies/index.html (photo cred collage photo 2)

http://www.aecom.com/projects/kaiser-westside/?qm%5B0%5D=2463&qp=&qt=12 (photo cred collage photo 3)

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

Get Crafty to Shape Your Career

Stagnant. Unmotivated. Unfulfilled. Frustrated. Underutilized.

These feelings can be common for many during their working careers. However, if someone would have told me when I started my career years ago that I would feel these disheartening emotions and lose many nights of sleep while still working for a company that I so greatly admired, I wouldn’t have believed them.

In my early twenties, I began working at a small marketing agency/consultancy. I loved the organization’s culture from the start, enjoyed their line of work, believed in their product they produced and quickly felt a bond with my colleagues. I was itching to learn anything and everything, contribute significantly, excel rapidly and make big moves in my career.

The learning curve was great for my Account Manager role and I was afforded tremendous responsibilities, was assigned accounts with quite a few very renowned clients, and traveled all over the country for stakeholder meetings. For all of which, I am truly grateful.

Overtime however, the allure of the job diminished as the organization restructured and my role changed within it. A position that was previously fulfilling had now become lackluster. While I still believed strongly in the mission of the company and was pleased with its new overall direction, I also felt stuck and highly-unmotivated within an organization where I once experienced extensive opportunity and growth.

During this time of low motivation and unhappiness, I had my first, full encounter with job crafting, “the process of employees redesigning their own jobs to better suit their strengths and interests” (Wrzesniewski, 2010), while shaping their job tasks to better align with their personal values and goals. Job crafting is highly important as it can reengage employees, create more happiness among staff over time and in turn increase performance (Wrzesniewski, 2014). Implementing a consistent job crafting process is also a positive way to find what motivates employees and encourages them to take ownership of their work and purpose while becoming resilient. “In order to reengage employees and make them happy within the workplace, it requires that the employee be doing something meaningful and can get lost in their work on a daily basis” (Pinsker, 2016). Allowing each employee to craft a job that is meaningful for them specifically, is necessary for the success of an organization.

Throughout my last year with the company, I looked to build my experience in different areas to create a more fulfilling work environment by requesting to be involved with different client accounts from industries that aligned more with my values, built stronger relationships with all employees within the small company, and asked to attend meetings that would help me be more strategic within my position. With support from upper management and my colleagues, these efforts helped to boost my morale. However, without a solid job crafting plan in place and knowledge of how to specifically form one, these efforts eventually fell flat and I felt I had no other option than to leave the company for new endeavors.

Now as an MBA student reflecting on that experience, I can’t help but wonder if the scenario could have been different. Was this simply a situation of reaching a natural growth threshold within a company? Could I personally have done more to change my immediate working environment? With this new knowledge of job crafting, what would I tell my previous self?

  1. Identify your own motives, strengths, and passions and revisit them consistently. Self-awareness is key.
  2. Visualize your job, map its elements, and reorganize it to better suit you (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  3. Find opportunities for work that also add value to others (Valcour, 2013).
  4. Explicitly document your job crafting plans. Write them down, make them tangible (Valcour).
  5. Build trust with managers and solicit their support specifically for your job crafting plans (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  6. Specifically assess the three core aspects of work, Task Crafting, Relationship Crafting, and Cognitive Crafting, and formulate a plan to move forward with these in mind (Wrzesniewski):


  1. Have a solid understanding of the relevance of your work to the overall mission of the business. Recognize chances to use your skills and expertise to make a positive contribution.
  2. Refrain from completing work that you ‘should’ do and instead do the work you choose to do. (Livne-Tarandach, 2016).

While I didn’t experience a desired result initially, I do know that I’m now better equipped to more effectively job craft in the future when I’ll be back in the career world one day soon, in hopes for a more successful outcome.


This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Kelsey

Kelsey is a 2018 MBA from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. She spent most of her career in marketing project and account management with a diverse client base from both corporate and government sectors. After graduation, she aspires to evoke positive social change through creatively enhancing and building innovative sport brands, products and organizations that serve the greater good.