Oregon MBA

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.

“You’re getting an MBA to work in…Video Games?”

My mother has been a patient and understanding woman when it comes to me, her oldest of three sons. When it took me nearly seven years to finish my undergraduate degree, she gave me nothing but unconditional love and support. Two years later, when I told her I was going to law school, she was my biggest cheerleader. When I moved across the country to work for the United States Senate, she gave me a big hug and told me to go make a difference. But when I told her last spring that I was leaving the practice of law to pursue my MBA in Sports Business at the University of Oregon and that I wanted to work in eSports, or professional video game competitions, I think even she will admit that her resolve started to waiver.

Was this some sort of early 30’s crisis? Maybe some form of pathological avoidance? Or is it simply the next step in a vast conspiracy to deprive her of grandchildren? The answer, as it turns out, was much simpler. I have had two life-long passions: sports and video games. And with the meteoric rise in popularity and viability of eSports, for the first time I had finally found an industry that could blend those passions and give me a career I could not only excel at, but also be truly enthusiastic about. But did I really need an MBA from Oregon to work in this?

In a word, yes. Today, eSports boasts a community of over 250 million viewers and hosts tournaments that now regularly offer prize pools in the high-seven or even eight figures. Championship matches draw viewership numbers that exceed the Stanley Cup Final. Mainstream brands such as T-Mobile, Coke, Arby’s, Geico, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Bull and others are major sponsors of multiple events and broadcasts. Even traditional professional sports teams have taken notice, with the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic having already invested in eSports teams, and others such as the Dallas Cowboys actively interested in entering the space.

eSports is going mainstream, and those teams, developers, and sponsors are going to begin expecting expertise in not only gaming, but also in business.  Knowing the difference between an AP Carry and a Jungler is well and good, but knowing the difference between endemic and non-endemic brands and how to create value for both in an emerging market is how you’re really going to impress and get noticed in the gaming world these days. As I’ve learned, studying Sports Marketing under a Vice President of Club Services for Major League Soccer is much more likely to get you noticed by Riot or Blizzard than a Diamond or Master level player ranking.

When I told Warsaw Program Manager Craig Leon during my MBA interview that I wanted to work in eSports, he smiled and told me, “You know, if you had come here even two years ago, I probably would have told you we weren’t the place for you; but now? Let’s do it.” I didn’t know it at the time, but those words would profoundly change my life, almost universally for the better.

My mom still doesn’t quite understand what I’m trying to do in my career; despite having three gamer sons, she never got past Frogger. But she knows that her boy is happier, healthier, and more enthusiastic about this path he’s on at the Oregon MBA than she’s heard him in a long time. And, at the end of the day, that is all a mother can ask for…well, that and maybe grandchildren.

Written by Justin Surber

Justin is a 2018 MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center focused on eSports. His background is primarily in law and politics, where he worked as an attorney and interned in the United States Senate prior to giving in to his love of sports and video games. Before coming to Oregon, Justin graduated from Linfield College with a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and received his Juris Doctorate with Honors from Willamette University College of Law. Outside of school, Justin enjoys tennis, reading, trying a new craft brewery, and all the joys and pitfalls of being a dog parent.

Why Smart Doesn’t Make You Happy


It is time to get crafty. Job crafting, that is. 

Read More»

Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.

Winter Break Already?

“Before you know it, it will be winter break.” We kept hearing that over and over from the second year MBAs. I didn’t believe them. I’m sure my classmates would agree, looking at the workload, I didn’t know how we would get it all done, but we did. I know more about bonds, balance sheets, and beta, but I think I learned the most through my relationships with my classmates. Even though we all ended up in the same program, we came here from such different places looking for different things. I underestimated how valuable others’ backgrounds could be to my own experience.

Uncomfortable. One way I could describe how I felt going back to school in a new state across the country after 7 years in the working world. Let’s face it, no one likes feeling discomfort, but most of us came here to challenge ourselves, so it’s inevitable. Who likes to admit they’re confused? Wrong even? This was a regular occurrence for many of us. It felt less daunting when classmates mapped out a concept on the whiteboard before I could even ask for help. Or when multiple people came up to me after class to offer experiences on a topic I seemed interested in. I came to realize that a big part of getting an MBA is learning about yourself and how to bring authenticity to your future position. It is a lot easier to find that genuineness when others are so willing to share themselves.

I can now confirm that yes, the first term goes by lightning fast. We learned in management that, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”* I think the same goes for business school. I mean, case and point – even after spending every waking moment together, we still want to sing karaoke on Thursdays together. Time and time again we heard that the key to success in the business world is teamwork and collaboration. Based on that, I think we’re going to have a very successful class walking into graduation day saying, “It’s over already?”



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.

Students Motivated to “Make History” at 2016 Net Impact Conference

The first weekend in November was a busy one for those of us who are student members of Net Impact at the University of Oregon.  Twenty of us—first and second year Oregon MBAs and undergraduates in business, environmental studies, journalism, psychology and economics—flew across the country to participate in the 2016 Net Impact Conference from November 2 to November 5 in downtown Philadelphia.

Net Impact is an international membership organization of over 100,000 students and professionals who are interested in the intersection of business and social or environmental impact.  The theme of this year’s conference was “Make History” and included a wide variety of keynote speakers like Alicia Garza, Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder of B Lab, and Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Wal-Mart.  Beyond the content of the conference, the opportunity to network with students from all over the country is a huge part of the value of attending the conference.

Eddie Rosenberg, a second year MBA student in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship put it this way: “While the presentations, workshops, and cheesesteaks were amazing, the most impactful part was being with a community of incredibly smart, driven, and environmentally/socially engaged students.  There are a lot of bad things in the world and big challenges to overcome…meeting and working with this group of Net Impacters gave me hope and more momentum to make a difference.”

The UO contingent was unique in its own right because of our make-up of undergraduates, first year MBAs, and second year MBAs—few other schools we talked to made such an effort to connect with each other across years.


The UO Undergraduate Net Impact Chapter is a powerhouse of active students and a full schedule of club activities.  The undergraduates not only draw important industry speakers like former Patagonia CEO, Michael Crooke to their weekly meetings, but also host their own one-day conference each year at the UO.  The consensus from the undergraduates was generally that the conference had renewed their motivation and (already impressive) energy to promote the work of sustainability in business.  Audrey, a junior in advertising and the Vice President of the Public Relations for the UO undergraduate chapter summed it up when she shared that “The Net Impact Conference has provided me with opportunities to continue the movement and create an impact within our community.”

The Graduate Chapter was recognized as a Gold Chapter again this year and also kept busy by organizing a West Coast Net Impact Chapter Meetup with MBA programs from University of Washington-Evans, Willamette University, and University of Colorado—Leeds.

Our three brave first year MBAs had only been with the program a little over a month when they headed to the conference.  It can feel like drinking from a firehose with the incredible amount of information available and the packed schedule of speakers and activities, but all three enjoyed the experience. Ben, a first year MBA in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, shared that his main takeaway was “how much acceptance sustainability is gaining in the corporate world. Major players are leading the way now.” His classmate Leah echoed that sentiment, sharing that she was impressed by “how integrated sustainability is becoming in the corporate world.  It is something that most companies these days are considering and many across all operations.”

This trip marked the second Net Impact Conference for all of my fellow-second years who attended and I was curious to hear what they thought of the experience being now “older and wiser” than we were just a year ago.  Andrea, a second year MBA in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices and Treasurer of the Graduate Chapter shared her impressions:  “[The] biggest thing for me was the shift in how businesses are developed.  Entrepreneurs are looking at what problems need to be addressed, then building a business to fix the issue.  Also, [there’s a] definite shift away from siloed sustainability departments.  [You] have to have sustainability in all teams.”  Second years also came to the conference this year with a clearer focus on networking and jobs.  Anna, a second year MBA in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices and the President of the UO Graduate Chapter heard some surprising advice: “I loved that both presenters on the sustainable apparel panel told us to not go out and get jobs with sustainability in the title—that we would be more effective implementing these practices in other industries/departments/projects.”

It was an action-packed three-day weekend in Philly listening to well-known keynote speakers, engaging with panels of sustainability professionals, participating in applied case scenarios and eating a lot of pretzels, cheesesteaks, fried chicken, and ice cream served on a doughnut!  Most of the group even arrived early enough Thursday to see the Liberty Bell, the LOVE statue, and accidentally stumble upon the house where Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence.  The knowledge gained from the 2016 Net Impact conference, and the powerful, evocative location, accomplished its mission of inspiring this group of University of Oregon Students to go forth and help make history!


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.

OMBA takes the Bend Venture Conference

The numbers have been crunched, the presentation decks prepared, and nerves are on high. Your carefully thought out idea is about to become reality…but only if you win. Welcome to the Bend Venture Conference.


As an MBA student in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track, I expected to be provided with insights into the start-up world within a classroom context. But when I found myself, only three-weeks into my MBA program, traveling to Bend, Oregon for my first venture conference I realized that the Oregon MBA exceeds expectations.

A venture conference is an event where ideas turn into actions. A little research on the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) website led me to expect a multi-day entrepreneurship-focused event and close to $1 million in prize money. The start-up companies were broken into three categories of competition: Social Impact, Early Stage, and Growth Stage. 15 founders were going to pitch their start-up ideas to groups of investors. And I was going to be part of it.

After arriving at the Tower Theater in Bend, my classmates and I got settled in for the first round of competition: Social Impact. Here, companies were formed around the idea of helping others. We saw presentations centered around water conservation, fighting human sex trafficking, and blood-borne disease diagnostic tools. To round out this philanthropic group, Rebekah Bastian, the Vice President of Product at Zillow took the stage as the key note speaker. Bastian discussed how she is leveraging her role at the United States’ leading online real estate marketplace to help end homelessness.


The Early Stage competition kicked off Day Two. Here we saw six founders pitch their hopeful companies for three minutes each. Again, the company focuses varied. Anything from inner-tire suspension to rainwater collection systems to crowdsourcing apps could be found onstage. These new companies were competing for $15,000 and the vote was decided by the audience. I was amazed to know that my ballet could help the company I most believed in launch.


The Growth Stage competition rounded out the conference. The five companies were seeking seeding funding, typically in the amount of 1 million dollars. These companies – like Cartogram, Hubb, and Outdoor Project – have all been around for a few years and the founders were practiced presenters. The keynote speaker for Day Two was Loni Stark, the Senior Director of Strategy and Product Marketing at Adobe and the co-founder of Stark Insider, a West Coast media brand. Stark shared her thoughts on the significance of digital on customer experience and marketing.


As a future entrepreneur and hopeful starter-upper like myself, the face value of attending the BVC was obvious. It was a chance to see how entrepreneurs and investors were going to come together to bring the next big thing to market. I was able to learn impactful tips, like what to wear on stage, at what pace to speak, and how to stand while presenting. I was able to apply the business terms I have been learning in my MBA classes to a real-world application. But the most valuable lesson I learned at the BVC that it is always possible to turn your passion into your career.

There is little scarier than introducing yourself as a Master’s student specializing in innovation and entrepreneurship to a room of innovative entrepreneurs. There is a pressure to have that next million-dollar idea researched and ready. So when you don’t have it all figured out, it is easy to feel apprehensive. But the BVC showed me how to discover that million-dollar idea… Or at least where to start. Despite how varied the ideas presented on stage were, the theme was all the same: do what you love. Discover your passion and work within that space. And if no one is doing exactly what you want to, go out and build that company from the bottom up.

I had high expectations for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. But looking back at the connections made, ideas inspired, and knowledge grasped while attending the BVC with the classmates, I realize that the Oregon MBA is already exceeding expectations.


Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.