Sustainable Business Practices

Sports + CSR

Recently I joined the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center on their experiential learning trip to NYC. This included visits to ESPN, the NFL, the NBA and the New York Road Runners. Since I was the only student from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices on these visits, I thought discussing what corporate social responsibility means in the world of sports would be an interesting blog post.

In a session on sustainability reporting at the SXSW Eco Conference 2015 that I attended last year, Tim Mohin said that companies should measure and report on the impact areas that are most relevant to their business. For professional sports teams and leagues, this means focusing on youth, community, and physical and mental health.

In case you live under a rock or don’t follow the latest sports gossip, the NFL has come under fire in the last few years due to some high-profile domestic violence cases amongst key players. In response, the NFL has introduced numerous initiatives to address domestic violence with players and in the community. While the NFL would tell you that this is part of their commitment to social responsibility, I would argue that this is simply good PR.

Missing from the conversations this week, however, was a discussion of the environmental impacts of professional sports games. These games require substantial electricity and generate large amounts of waste, but managing these impacts often falls on the stadiums themselves. And most of the time, stadiums don’t even have recycling bins. To improve corporate social responsibility in the professional sports industry, teams and leagues should partner with their home stadiums to decrease their environmental impact.

The San Francisco 49ers are a perfect example of how a professional team can address both social and environmental responsibility. Their brand new Levi’s stadium is LEED Gold certified and is the first to utilize recycled water for field irrigation and other essential stadium functions. According to an article by the Green Sports Alliance, “the cooperation between the 49ers and local government and other organizations shows that strong partnerships can help to conserve natural resources and set new environmental standards for sports venues.”

stadiumview

The 49ers stadium is touted as the greenest stadium in the NFL

Experiential learning trips with my cohort are always eye opening, and I’m glad I had this opportunity to dig deeper into what CSR means in the sports industry.

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

Green is the New Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Written by Kate Hammarback

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

#MyOutdoorStory an Outdoor Industry Association Movement

#MyOutdoorStory

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

Growing a Sustainable Diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Written by Joey Jaraczewski

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Written by Eric Parsons

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

How to turn a surf bum into a professional.

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

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

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

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

costa

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

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

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

pic for blog 2

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

Life is unpredictable, sometimes you just have to jump.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

SPRNG 2015

Net Impact is something of an intriguing mystery. At first glance, the name doesn’t necessarily describe what the club is about, but one step into one of their club meetings or events and the name suddenly makes sense.

Sustainable business. What is it? On whose standards is business sustainable? These questions and the reasons people take to combine the two are explored in Net Impact. One annual event they put on expresses sustainable business in the best way possible.

The 3rd Annual SPRNG Conference took place in at the UO White Stag Block in Portland on Thursday, April 23. The event brought together university students, faculty, and speakers representing industries as diverse as finance, non-profit, and architectureto share and explore how business can be sustainable. This year’s theme focused on sustainability in unexpected places, and it was brought to life through the speaker’s stories of challenge and triumph.

The night opened with a live jazz band as the backdrop to an in-depth networking reception where students, speakers, and representatives from various Pacific Northwest sustainable businesses could meet and learn from each other.

The first keynote speaker was Amy Jarvis, a mechanical engineer at ZGF Architects, a firm whose mark is felt on the UO campus through projects such as the Jacqua Center and Casanova Center. Jarvis explained how the design stage is the point at which all environmental impacts can be reduced from the get-go. Instead of mitigating the effects of polluting buildings, why not eliminate the polluting factors in the design stage? She also explained the use of eco-districts, the practice of deliberately integrating resources and materials within the existing network of a downtown or community area. New hospital under construction and it needs a rehabilitation fitness center? Partner with the local YMCA for this service to conserve space, build less, and forge community relationships.

The conference further explored sustainable business through a panel discussion of the sharing economy. Jim Huston of the Portland Seed Fund and Oregon Public Broadcasting moderated a diverse panel that included David Kenney of Oregon BEST; Carrie Hearne of Climate Solutions; Franklin Jones of B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery; Carolynn Duncan of the Northwest Social Venture Fund; and Holly Meyer of NW Natural. The panel was illuminating and was a powerful expression of sustainability in unexpected places.

The night closed out with Justin Zeulner of the Green Sports Alliance. He spoke to the power and message of sports and how it can be effectively leveraged to incite meaningful impact that benefits the environment and communities.

The unexpectedness of the evening’s theme had a parallel in the unexpected source of the conference’s organizers: speakers and professionals attending the conference were surprised to learn that undergraduate students were not only the hosts and but also the team that developed the conference. The Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter not only represented the University of Oregon positively it also inspired SPRNG attendees with a call to action and left them with a better understanding of sustainable business.

—Patrick Wrobel ’15

About Patrick: I am graduating this spring with a double major in accounting and geography. In Net Impact at first I was an observer, content to get along with the other members but not really commit to anything. Then I attended the first SPRNG conference and decided to get involved. I spent my junior to senior year as the VP of finance and operations directing major projects such as the coffee shop sustainability survey and the second SPRNG Conference. Finally I took the reins, surprising myself as president of the undergraduate club. It has been a fine experience that included its share of challenges and triumphs, but it definitely gave expression to the fact that anything worth anything is at least a little bit challenging.

I will be moving up to Portland to start work at an accounting firm. My dream career is to create something people will love in an area that did not know it needed it. In all honesty, I would be content grilling the best fish tacos on the West Coast, in a space attached to a craft brewery which I would also operate.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_3410

Written by Kelly Kilker

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

From Cal Bear to Oregon Duck: Highlights from San Francisco

Earlier this month, the entire first-year MBA cohort had the opportunity to spend the first week of April in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting with top executives in a wide variety of companies.

In just four days, we met with Levi Strauss, Blackrock, Strava, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve, Farmland LP, Capital One, LinkedIn, Google, Women’s Startup Lab, Interwest Partners, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, RSF Social Finance, Clif Bar and Sierra Nevada Brewery! We also had a little time to explore downtown San Francisco, take pictures under the Golden Gate Bridge, and spend the evening playing in the Exploratorium.

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

While I was excited to get insight into the inner workings of some incredibly successful companies, I was also thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area for the first time in a few years. I did my undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was eager to show my new friends around all of my old favorite spots in the city.

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

 

It would be hard to pick my favorite experience from our week in the Bay, but I was able to narrow it down to a list of my top three:

  1. Clif Bar

Going in to the trip, Clif Bar was the company that I was most excited to visit, and the office tour did not disappoint. Between the rock-climbing wall in the employee gym, bike parts repurposed as door handles, an endless supply of snack bars, and a program that allows employees to volunteer for an unlimited number of paid hours, it would be hard not to want a job at Clif. Our group was lucky enough to meet with the CFO, who shared stories about what it was like to work for the company 15 years ago when the CEO turned down a $120 million offer and decided to keep Clif Bar private. As far as authentic companies go, Clif Bar is the real deal.

  1. RSF Social Finance

One of the primary benefits of the experiential learning trips is the opportunity to be exposed to an array of companies in many different industries. While I am not personally interested in a career in impact investing, I really enjoyed learning about RSF Social Finance. RSF is a nonprofit financial services organization dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. The visit with RSF drew together the interests of all three centers (finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability) in attendance, as we had the chance to talk about social responsibility, financial analysis, and innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.

  1. Net Impact Meet Up

My third and final highlight of the trip was our meet up at UC-Berkeley’s graduate chapter of Net Impact, a nonprofit organization of students and professionals dedicated to using business skills for social and environmental causes. On Tuesday night, students from our chapter at UO met with students from the chapter at UC-Berkeley. We compared professional interests, internship prospects, and our plans for the Net Impact conference in Seattle, Washington in November. Of course, we also told stories about our experiences in grad school and laughed over local brews. This highlight might be biased, but it was eye-opening to see my college campus through the eyes of my new friends.

Despite feeling slightly nostalgic for my college days in Berkeley (who isn’t nostalgic for their alma mater), my biggest takeaway from San Francisco was a renewed appreciation for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. The experiential learning trips are just one of the many benefits of the Oregon MBA, and I feel really lucky to have a cohort full of intelligent, passionate, collaborative and enthusiastic students with which I can share these trips. Until next time, San Francisco!

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.