sustainable business

4 Cultural Trends That Will Affect Business in Asia

Engaging Asia BeijingHaving studied international relations and lived abroad for a number of years, I’ve experienced first hand the interconnectivity of our current world. One of the reasons I chose the Oregon MBA is because this program also understands the importance globalization has on business. The Oregon MBA takes it one step further by offering all students a highly subsidized international business trip to Asia to experience international business first hand.

Through the Engaging Asia study tour I was given the opportunity to experience the culture, history, politics, economics, and business of three very distinct cities: Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore. The two-week trip consisted of meetings and tours with leaders from a wide variety of organizations, from large international businesses, to local start-ups, to government officials. In the course of these meetings and cultural experiences I identified four common trends to watch as I enter my career:

1)   The rising middle class and consumerism: The United States middle class is no longer the driver of the world’s economic growth, with over 109 million people worth between $50,000 and $500,000 in China alone; the Asian-Pacific market is now the most influential consumer class. Since 2000, twice as many Chinese as Americans have joined the middle class (CNN Money)  and by 2030 two-thirds of the world’s middle class will be in the Asia-Pacific region (Jeffrey Towson and Jonathan
Woetzel
). What does this mean for international businesses looking for growth? You’d better establish a presence now and start building a Engaging Asia Shanghairelationship with this powerful market.

2)   Young consumers: Asian consumers are significantly younger than their Western counterparts. Chinese born after 1980 represent more than 50% of the Chinese population, and Indian’s median age is only 27. These young people have grown up in a connected world, are more receptive to Western ideas and businesses, and deeply aspire for a better life (Helen H. Wang). They pose a huge opportunity, but are also a difficult segment due to their ability to detect manipulations and false intentions. That’s why authentic brands are crucial.

3)   The importance of authenticity: Asian consumers are getting savvy to fake offerings and poor imitations and now that they have the financial ability, they want the real thing from brands that recognize traditional differences and cultures. What this means for new businessmen and women is that it is going to become vital to have someone on the Engaging Asia Beijingground who really understands what the Asian consumer is looking for and his or her pain points.
It is also a huge opportunity for people with strong people and relationship building skills if they are willing to live and work internationally.

 

 

4)    The increased awareness of health and happiness in place of money as a symbol of status: Chinese citizens have realized that a higher income doesn’t always have the expected correlation with well-being, thus recent trends have shifted. The increased importance on happiness and welfare as measurements of success has led Chinese citizens to be more physically active, more relationship and community focused, and care more about the state of the environment. Average Chinese citizens are sick of pollution and the illnesses it causes and are demanding more from the government. Chai Jing, for example, became a sensation with over one million YouTube views of her documentary Under the Dome Investigating China’s Smog. However, Chai Jing doesn’t claim to be an extreme environmentalist; she’s just a Nike Shanghainormal citizen bringing light to the questions that all Chinese have begun asking. She’s just a mom who wants a healthier life for her daughter, as do all Chinese citizens. Corporate social responsibility and sustainability will be vital to the success of businesses operating in Asia.

 

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.

Lights, Camera, Quacktion

This past spring, I had the fun opportunity to be the Oregon IMG_3495MBA “talent” (that’s film lingo, I learned, for actor or actress) in the pilot episode of a web series called Ducks in the Wild for the Oregon MBA Program with alum Guru Khalsa, the Environmental Corporate Responsibility Manager at Columbia Sportswear. To produce a seven-minute video, Guru and I logged over 20 hours of screen time in downtown Portland, at Columbia Sportswear’s headquarters in Beaverton, and in Eugene. The experience was exhausting but highly entertaining. I really hoped the production company would release a blooper reel, but since that doesn’t look promising, I thought I’d share some insider secrets from the set of the webinar.

When you watch the video, one of the first questions you’ll have within the first few minutes is: did Katie bike from Portland to Eugene? I may be athletic, but I’m not that intense. The filming of the opening segment at my Biking UO campus Eugeneapartment in Eugene didn’t actually take place until two weeks after Guru and I wrapped in Portland!

To get the shot of Guru and I biking side by side down the streets of Portland, we had to ride at about 2 MPH behind a small SUV while the cinematographer practically hung out of the back of the moving vehicle. We rode up and down the same straightaway at least 15 times! No wonder Guru reminded me to bring my helmet.

We had to shoot the scene of Guru and I walking into Columbia over 10 times because we kept running into each other, forgetting to stop on our marks, blocking each out from camera view, and forgetting what we were supposed to say!Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.50.10 PM

And yes, I have seen potatoes before. That was one scene I hoped would be in the blooper reel but not the final cut!

I had an absolute blast filming this episode, and also made a wonderful professional connection with Guru. Being one of the Oregon MBA “talents” for the Ducks in the Wild video series, will likely remain one of the highlights of business school.

Check out the full Ducks in the Wild Episode #1 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Written by Kelly Kilker

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

Defining ‘Sustainable Business’: Net Impact Conference 2014

Greenbiz, B-Corp, the three Ps, LEED Certified, CSR, ESG, SRI.  What do all these acronyms and buzz words mean?  And what exactly is a career in sustainable business?  If you’re like me, six weeks into the Sustainable Business Practices MBA at the University of Oregon, that last one is a pretty important question.

The Net Impact Conference, held in Minneapolis Minnesota, came at a perfect time to help me start to understand the broad variety of applications of sustainability in business.

The annual conference brings together thousands of students and business professionals who want to make a positive impact on the world.  It is a weekend for networking, inspirational speeches, exchanging ideas, and pushing boundaries

At this year’s conference, I heard about B-Corps from Andrew Kassoy, the founder of B Lab; discussed the pivotal role women will play in development with Suzanne Fallender (the director of the Global Girls and Women Initiative through Intel) and Faziun Kamal (founder of sourceFK a company that is bringing Bangladesh women out of poverty one silk garment at a time); and was able to ask Jason McBriarty, the Director of Global Community Affairs for Levi Strauss nagging questions surrounding cause marketing and engaging consumers specifically in regards to the Waterless campaign.  I also examined the future of sustainability in business with leaders from Kiva, Microsoft, Best Buy, The National Parks Service, Honest Tea and many like-minded undergraduate and MBA students from across the country.

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Levi’s Water>Less Campaign advertisement started in 2012.

The presentations and conversations provided me with layers of insight into the vague world of sustainable business and by Saturday’s closing ceremony I had come to realize that there might not be one exact answer to my question.  Sustainability takes many forms.  Sometimes it’s providing girls and women in Africa access to the Internet.  Sometimes it’s a certification to help companies measure what matters.  Sometimes it’s a marketing campaign that tells you not to wash your jeans.

kenya-karibu-center-volunteers-video.mp4.rendition.cq5dam.thumbnail.640.360

Intel global girls and women initiative. Karibu Centre, Kenya.

What intrigues me about integrating sustainability and business is that it’s open ended.  The Net Impact Conference excited me about the many options and helped me see that no matter what I decide to pursue after business school, I will have the opportunity to impact the world in a positive way.  There are countless ways to alleviate the issues facing our world.  ‘Sustainable business’ just comes down to business that commits to lessen, rather than increase, those issues.  They pledge to use their power and influence as a force for good, inspiring myself and the other attendees of the Net Impact Conference to further these principles.

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.

From India to Eugene

Greetings everybody, I’m Harkanwal Sra and I’m a first-year in Center for Sustainable Business Practices. I’m from Punjab, India and I studied Electronics & Communications Engineering in my undergrad.

After graduating, I worked for Ericsson India Global Services Pvt. Ltd. for four years where I was responsible for operation and maintenance of the telecom network for Bharti Airtel, India’s biggest telecom services provider. During this time, I acquired good technical knowledge and also identified that I need to develop business skills in order to take my career to the next level. That is when I decided to do my MBA and shore up my business skills to complement my tech skills.

So, what prompted me to leave my family, friends, job, country and travel halfway across the world to US to pursue a green MBA?

Ever since my college days, I would read various reports and articles about pollution, climate change, ozone layer depletion etc. Sitting in my cozy home and later in my office in a city, I always wondered, “Is all of this really real?” As I started becoming worldly wise, I began to see the ill effects of these things back in my ancestral village and its nearby areas. Pollution, rapid industrialization, depleting water resources, deficient monsoon had started affecting the lives of people. The once prosperous region has become a pale shadow of itself. So, the issues of pollution, climate change, etc., cannot be ignored anymore. Somewhere something has to be done to get the things back on track.

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So, when I decided to do my MBA, I wanted to do it in a field that would help me play a role in rebuilding what has been destroyed. So when I started researching MBA programs, I found the UO’s Sustainable Business Practices MBA program. I researched in-depth about the program and applied. The program offered me a chance to gain practical knowledge in the field of sustainability with its focus on experiential learning from the professors who have seen it all and done it all. Finally, I had found a program that would help me do something worthwhile with the knowledge and skills that I would gain through it.

It has now been eight weeks since the program started and I haven’t been disappointed. The program has taken me on exposure trips to Portland and the Net Impact Conference in Minneapolis. While there, I was exposed to what various organizations are doing to make a positive change in the life of people and what they’re doing to make the world a safer, cleaner and better place for the next generation to live in.

The journey so far has not only been about learning sustainable business skills but also about self-discovery. Everyday I discover some sort of skill that I never knew existed in me before. I have learnt how to cook, survive in the cold & wet conditions in Eugene. Over the course of the next two years, I hope to continue to learn more and more not only about sustainable business but also about myself and hope to make a positive change in the life of people.

Written by Harkanwal Sra

Harkanwal Sra is a first year student in Center of Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). Prior to joining the program here, he worked as First level Assurance Engineer for Ericsson India Global Services in India. After graduating, he hopes to pursue a career helping organizations develop business practices that achieve a sustainable competitive advantage while making a positive impact on both society and the environment.

The Environmentalist’s Dilemma

One of the best things about being a runner is that I get to be (have to be) outside everyday. Rain or shine; in my hometown or halfway across the world. I have gone to the tops of mountains, seen beautiful sunsets, traversed muddy trails, and viewed pristine lakes. Because of this, nature has always held extreme value in my mind and it kills me to think that someday this beauty will look very different.

This is what moved me toward sustainable business and ultimately led me to the Net Impact conference. It was immediately clear that most people there were brought there by passion like mine, motivated by a deep love for something they wanted to protect or improve. It was incredibly inspiring for me to see all the positive things people have done. There is a certain adrenaline rush that comes from being surrounded by people who share similar passions like this. It’s a very similar feeling to the one I get after doing well in a race at a big track meet. In both situations, there is a process to learning how to contain and properly channel these emotions. You want to keep the buzz of energy going to ‘go forth and produce good’, but if you come on too strong, you will burn yourself out and/or just turn people away from your cause rather than draw them to it.

As someone fairly new to the specifics behind sustainable business concepts, I learned many things at the conference that shocked me and changed my views on everything from what I ate and how I traveled to how I felt about modern conveniences. I wanted to stop drinking milk, stop eating beef and chicken, stop driving my car, stop taking showers and tell the rest of America that they should too….but before I did all that, I had to get home to Oregon…..3.5 hr plane ride (.19 metric tons CO2), 2.5 hr van ride (.04 metric tons C02), 4 plastic plane cups, packaged airport sandwiches, half dozen paper hand towels, etc…..

What place do I have to talk about how America should be more sustainable?!

This has to be something that every new cause advocate goes through. How do you jump into a conversation this big without seeming like a hypocrite for living normally in this society? Sure, you could just go and have a carbon negative life as a hermit in the woods but how would that help educate others or change how the world operated as a whole? It wouldn’t.

Throughout the conference, I tried to take note of how the most effective individuals approached these issues. What I learned was that these people chose the topic that they felt strongest about and pushed hard for it while at the same time chipping away little by little at everything else.  Being persistent and consistent but generally flying under the radar a little bit on the peripheral items. Like other concepts in business, sometimes you have to give before you receive. Spend a little carbon in order to meet people in the society of today to gain their trust and attention before sharing what you know and how you feel about the changes that can be made. At Net Impact, I learned that you don’t have to always be a radical or a hypocrite or the best person in the world or the worst but if you truly care about something you can make a difference.

Written by bfranek@uoregon.edu

Bridget was a 2012 Olympian in track and field and will be graduating from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center this December. She originally returned to get her MBA in hopes of better understanding the business side of sports and maximize her experience as a professional athlete. While at Oregon, she learned about the opportunities in sustainable business and has been inspired to figure out a way to use her background in sports as a platform for environmental improvement and social good.

A Lifetime of Leadership

It is not often that we get to meet our heroes face to face. But on our recent MBA study tour to Seattle that happened for me. I’d known of Denis Hayes and his work since he led the first Earth Day Celebration in 1970. We climbed six stories of the beautiful stairs in the new Bullitt Center, the “greenest commercial building in the world”, to meet him. The Bullitt Foundation office was elegant, yet democratically arranged in an open fashion, a wall full of books behind his desk. We all sat at a glorious handmade wood & metal table in the glass-enclosed conference room, watching the sunset over the city of Seattle, while we listened. He talked of almost fifty years of environmental politics, battles won and lost, lessons learned, changes witnessed, progress made. To say he cares deeply is an understatement, to see his continuing engagement is inspiring. How does one stay out in front, leading the way, for so many years? As the CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, and the driving force behind this amazing building, it is clear that Denis Hayes has a practical streak. But his dreams have never been limited by what looked possible to accomplish….he always tries to actually do things right, the way he knows they could be, even if nobody has done it before. A visionary, yes. But one who understands the value of business, and who has been leading us all towards a more sustainable world, one project at a time. Thank you, Denis.

Written by Dr. Laura A. Strohm, Program Manager of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices,
Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.

Written by lstrohm@uoregon.edu

Dr. Laura Strohm is the Program Manager and Senior Instructor of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.

Business in Portlandia

Understanding the soul of a sole

Understanding the soul of a sole

If you’ve seen the popular IFC show Portlandia, let me assure you as a Portland native, it’s firmly grounded in reality. Portland is militantly kept weird by it residents, but how does Portland do business?  “In terms of catchphrases, it’s snappy to call Portland the Silicon Valley of Sustainability,” explains UO Management Prof. Mike Russo in his book Companies on a Mission.  There’s plenty of reasons why value driven companies end up in Portland, but I’ll let you read the expert’s book on it.  The Center for Sustainable Business Practices often sets it’s sights on Portland companies, and this past term the students had the chance to visit two that are manufacturing locally: KEEN footwear and Purdy Paint Brushes.

Our first stop was KEEN’s headquarters, where we got to play with their recess equipment (including a full rock star drum set!), pet the many office dogs and get a dose of inspiration from both the CEO James Curleigh and Care and Community Manager Chris Enlow.  Check out Cassidy’s blog post on the KEEN site about the visit.

We then trekked to their Portland manufacturing plant, to see their boots in action.  It was a thrill to meet the people that make the shoes, and learn about ‘insourcing’, bringing back outsourced manufacturing jobs. Curleigh expands on how this was a benefit in unexpected ways in this NPR story.

After our footwear fun, we dove deeper into Portland’s industrial district to visit Purdy Paintbrushes.  This unassuming company was started in an Oregon garage, and grew to be a leader in top quality paintbrushes.  Not too shabby an accomplishment in it’s self, but recently the whole plant committed to zero waste, and achieved the goal in under two years.

MBAs embrace the safety goggles!

MBAs embrace the safety goggles!

Purdy is a member of ResourceFull Use, a collaborative organization dedicated to finding ways to reduce industrial waste streams. Brenda Demaree, Purdy’s Facility and Sustainability Manager, took us around the huge factory, indicating where a former waste stream used to be, and how the waste was being re-used or recycled.  There were definitely no trash cans. I can personally attest to this: I held onto a plastic wrapper until the end of the tour so I could ask her where I should dispose of it.   She identified the proper recycling bin, and launched into how open the employees were to changing their behaviors to support the endeavors of her and her team.  No doubt it took a lot of employee buy in to create such a dramatic impact in so short a time.

Maybe willingness to embrace change is a reason why so many green companies end up here?  I’ll have to consult the book, but one thing’s for sure: Portland likes it’s business innovative, invigorated and sustainable, and that sounds like something I’d tune in for.

-Mikaela

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.

Pitching Business Ideas: An Interview with OMBA Students at the Hult Global Case Competition

The odds were against us. Five first-year MBAs. No background in solar energy. No connection to Eastern Africa. But when the Hult Global Case Competition picked our team to represent the University of Oregon, we couldn’t resist a good challenge. Our task was to design a solution to increase access to clean, renewable solar energy in Africa. As one of 300 teams picked from over 4,000 applications, we were set to compete against schools from around the world.

What was the case you were working on?

We were consulting for SolarAid, a U.K.-based company. They have two divisions within the company and the division we consulted for, SunnyMoney, sells solar lamps and chargers in East Africa. There is a huge need for solar in developing markets, but it is difficult to implement because of cost barriers. Africa is still dependent on kerosene for light. Kerosene is really toxic, dangerous, and extremely expensive for rural African households. Solar is clean, safe, and renewable – freeing up money for families to spend on food, education, etc.

SunnyMoney has had some success in the countries they are currently in– Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia – but they were ready to scale and needed to figure out how. That’s where we came in. The Hult Competition allowed SunnyMoney to crowd-source the best student ideas for scaling their business.

What was it like to work on this kind of project?

It was incredibly challenging – but in an awesome way. Andrew sums it up: “This was a truly rewarding project that required me to think creatively, contribute to a team environment and work outside my typical comfort zones, in order to develop a unique solution to a challenge that needs to be resolved.” We were consulting for a business that wanted a good bottom line, but also had a social goal of affordable lighting. We had to balance doing well financially and doing good socially, which stretched what business is traditionally about.

The team meetings leading up to and in San Francisco were incredibly fun with a ton of team bonding happening, and that made it easier when we were working hard to research and learn about the economy and culture of East Africa. There were even several nights we got kicked out of Lillis because the building was shutting down.

Watching our team and ideas evolve was also satisfying. We really went from “a big jumble of everyone’s initial thoughts to a unique and well planned model,” Shannon explains.

We were blown away by the support we received from the University of Oregon. We were extremely lucky to have the support of Randy Swangard and Dave Boush, who helped us secure funding to get to San Francisco. We also had help from Anne Forrestel and Ron Severson who gave us insights on pitching, and microfinance, respectively. Finally, Cleven Mmari, a native of Tanzania was gracious enough to detail the Tanzanian political and social structure, and LCB alum and CEO of EcoZoom Ben West helped us understand manufacturing and distribution in Africa.

               

What secrets do you have for others considering case competitions?

We learned so much! But if we had to distill it down to a few quick and easy tips:

Remember the emotional connection. It’s easy to get lost in the details of your strategy. Andrew explains: “When you only have one shot to impress people, you need to be extremely clear and concise while also telling a story that evokes an emotional response.” Another trick that helps add substance: “Unbeknownst to me was the importance of using photos” in your slide deck, says Paul.

Forget about the numbers until you’ve reached a great solution. Paul sums this up well, “The fact that a number appears in the solution makes it easy to conclude that numbers are important in execution. In reality, an excellent idea trumps a good-but-not-great cost-effective solution. One team’s solution required an investment of $8 million, but when a big return, both financial and social, is as clear as they made it, $8 million is probably not hard to generate.”

Obviously you need both good content and delivery to be successful, but great delivery will set you apart. Every team had great knowledge, but what really set the winning team apart was their delivery. Though we collected a lot of information, we could have spent more time on giving a compelling and emotional presentation.

The competition was truly a team effort, but it wasn’t just about the five people on our team. “Helpful connections are everywhere – you just need to open your eyes to them,” says Jess.

What’s up with those sunglasses?

That’s a funny story. We won these Shady Peeps (a business started by UO alums) on the OMBA rafting trip during Prologue. There was a contest for which boat had the most spirit and the prize were pairs of Shady Peeps. Every member of our SunnyMoney team happened to have been on that winning boat.

We wore green and Shady Peeps at the competition to show our Oregon pride. As Jess puts it, there was a beautiful moment when we were “having our team’s picture taken in our suits, green shirts and ties, and Shady Peeps, in front of the Hult backdrop, with a swarming crowd of competitors and colleagues. We wore green with pride and didn’t take the responsibility lightly.” We weren’t afraid to be recognizable.

          

We are looking forward to the next opportunity to create a better world through business. Thank you for putting up such a great event, Hult.

-The OMBA SunnyMoney team
Grace Chang, Paul Chun, Shannon Oliver, Andrew White, Jessica Zutz

 

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.