Diane Abruzzini, ’17, Named Business Advisor at Vermont Commodity Program

Diane Abruzzini, ’17, will be joining Salvation Farms as a business advisor, helping the non-profit strengthen its Vermont Commodity Program by revising and expanding its business plan. The Vermont Commodity Program operates Vermont’s first surplus-crop food hub through a workforce development program. The food hub cleans, quality assesses, processes, and packs surplus crops.

Diane, whose work will be made possible through Salvation Farms’ partnership with the Cabot Creamery cooperative, will be working on financial modeling, business strategy, and stakeholder relations for the program.

In addition to her education in The Sustainable Innovation MBA, Diane comes to Salvation Farms with experience working with sustainable agricultural business models. She has started multiple small businesses, including an edible landscaping firm and a farm to table bakery.

“I have spent most of my career focusing on innovative ways to increase population access to local food, both the supply and demand side of the equation,” Diane said. “Salvation Farms is creating a unique opportunity to assist both sides at once: increase farmer revenue and facilitate new markets.”

Read the news release announcing Diane’s appointment. Learn more about Salvation Farms.

 

Vermont Business Accelerator Launched for Climate Change-Focused Entrepreneurs

A new business accelerator program, aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and startups focused on technology, services, and products addressing climate change challenges — particularly in the area of energy — has been launched in Vermont following the recent national Catalysts of the Climate Economy Summit held here in early September.

Accel-VT is inviting startup or seed stage ventures from across North America interested in solving one of the most pressing electric grid issues facing the U.S.—integration of distributed renewable energy, efficiency, and storage technologies with the grid — to apply. Participants will be selected based on their ability to help solve the challenges related to the monitoring and control of distributed energy (e.g., storage, electric vehicles, solar, community scale wind, combined heat and power) to improve their value while providing safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to all customers.

“We’re building a cluster of climate innovation companies and we offer an entrepreneurial support system that includes access to business planning services, networks, and growth capital—in a state known for its high quality of life in an idyllic and recreational setting in the Green Mountains,” says Geoff Robertson of Accel-VT.

Read the full press release. Or, learn more about Accel-VT.

Global Evolution and The Sustainable Innovation MBA Explore Link between Sustainable Investing and Development

Editor’s Note: This post is taken from the text of a news release issued by Global Evolution. Global Evolution serves on our Advisory Board, and hosted a student practicum during the 2016-2017 academic year.

Global Evolution partnered with the University of Vermont Sustainable Innovation MBA program to offer a unique learning experience for students pursuing a career in the growing field of sustainable business and impact investing.

The leading emerging and frontier markets investment manager hosted two students in a practicum project to gain hands on experience with investing in emerging and frontier markets. The students, Mike Rama and Ted Carrick, worked closely with Ole Jørgensen, Global Evolution’s Research Director, at headquarters in Denmark. Together, they developed recommendations to enhance Global Evolution’s ESG model and offering in North America, where the company is currently expanding.

“Sustainable investing is in our DNA, and we are committed to supporting the best talent that is interested in our field,” said Robert Morier, managing director and head of North America for Global Evolution. “Working with the University of Vermont was a great way to do that, and we are excited to see how these students contribute to our industry in the future.”

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Career Management System Aims to Launch SEMBA Students Into Dream Jobs

Students gain access to career counseling and network of employers in sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship

This post was written by Jon Reidel, Communications Officer at the University of Vermont, and first appeared on UVM’s website

SEMBA is made up of impact students like Karen Barnett (left) and Margaret Arzon, who talk with farmers in Bhubaneswar, India, as part of their SEMBA practicum with eKutir, a social enterprise group based in India that uses a human digital platform model to build self-sustaining ecosystems that address various challenges of smallholder farmer poverty.

A new breed of business student – one more concerned with solving the world’s sustainability issues than just turning a profit – is showing up at MBA programs across the country. These so-called “impact students” have college career counselors reeling when it comes to finding them jobs that don’t fit within the traditional corporate mold.

That’s not the case for the University of Vermont’s one-year Sustainable Entrepreneurship program (SEMBA) in the Grossman School of Business, which is composed of nothing but impact students. Matching graduates with opportunities focused on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship has been SEMBA’s sole focus since its inception in 2014.

“Traditional MBA programs dedicate maybe one of 10 counselors to deal with these pesky impact students,” says SEMBA Co-Director Stuart Hart, who previously served on the faculties at the University of Michigan, University of North Carolina and Cornell. “This is all we do. We’ve developed a customized system and built the largest, most robust network in this space globally because we’re totally committed to it.”

Hart, a world-renowned expert on how poverty and the environment affect business strategy, and SEMBA Co-Director David Jones plan to launch a new career management system designed to propel students into careers within SEMBA’s condensed 12-month format in renewable energy, clean tech, affordable health care, inclusive business, entrepreneurship within larger companies, start-ups, and other innovative ventures.

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Post-Paris, The Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA Now More Than Ever

From the Editors

In the wake of the kerfluffle over the United States’ exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, we at The Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA believe, among others, two very important things.

First, ain’t no stoppin’ us now. Climate change and sustainability, and resource sustainability, represent the most significant economic and business development opportunities in a generation. The business and economic case for these opportunities — to say nothing of the environmental case — is powerful and, arguably, irreversible. According to the New York Times, these opportunities represent a $6 trillion market by 2030. The shift is happening, and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement — while discouraging — will do little, if anything, to derail the immense problem solving opportunities, and rewards, around climate change.

Everyday, someone is breaking new ground in the production, conservation, or distribution of clean renewable energy. Everyday, someone is reinventing how we move around — how we transport ourselves and the things in our lives in revolutionary ways that save energy, space, and time. Everyday, someone is innovating and inventing new technologies that change the way we build, rebuild, heat, cool, and live in our homes and businesses while consuming as little as the earth’s resources as necessary.

In short, with or without the Paris Agreement capitalism, disrupted and reinvented, is a force — along with many others — to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.

Second, our Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA is part of the solution. More important than ever post-Paris, we must develop a new generation of business leaders who will build, innovate, disrupt, and reinvent climate change-focused enterprises in a world that demands it. In other words, UVM’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA is more important than ever and its graduates increasingly more vital to sustainable businesses.

While traditional MBA education simply turns out people educated in business models, approaches, and ethics that are more a part of the problem than the solution, our mission is to prepare leaders to transform today’s businesses and invent tomorrow’s ventures through a lens of sustainability.

We believe our students and alumni are uniquely prepared to be change agents and to lead within enterprises — or start new ones — that are solving the world’s most pressing problems — including climate change, and with or without a Paris Climate Agreement.

And, in this new reality, we believe our students will be in greater demand by businesses, enterprises, and organizations than ever before.

Learn more, and apply to a program that will not only change your life, but change the world, too.

Career Tips to Write Home About

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17

When I was growing up and I’d come back from school, my dad would always ask me: “So, what was the best thing you learned?” This quickly became a running joke in my family, leading my dad to ask the same question when I come back from vacation, after reading a news article and most recently – reaching another milestone in my SEMBA journey.

Tonight, I called my dad and patiently waited for him to ask me what new things I learned today. To his surprise, I started talking about the Alumni Career Panel, which brought together current SEMBA-ites and alumni from cohorts 1 and 2. The goal of the event was for the alumni to provide honest, practical feedback around finding a job and landing the right job.

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From the Web: Business students willing to sacrifice future salary for good corporate social responsibility: study

More than 90% of business students in a study on corporate social responsibility said they would be willing to sacrifice some percentage of their future salary to work for a responsible employer. A surprising number of 14% are willing to sacrifice more than 40% of their future income to do so.

However business students who were also employed full or part time were willing to sacrifice less of their future income than other participants. Those employed made up more than 60% of participants (30% occupying management positions).

Learn more (via The Conversation) >>

One Student’s Journey to Address Sustainability through a Vegan Lifestyle

This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17

“It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness. I think that’s where movements are started.”

– Shawn Heinrichs

Margaret feeding a cow in Haridwar, India

Growing up I would not touch anything that even resembled a vegetable. My Puerto-Rican and Cuban roots offered daily dishes of fried meat or chicken with rice and beans. At 21, I stopped eating meat for health reasons which slowly transformed into ethical concerns. Three years later, I read a book called “Vegan Freak” which revealed to me the atrocities and environmental havoc of not just the meat industry, but dairy and eggs as well. Sometimes once you know something, there is no degree of feigning ignorance that could turn you away from the truth. I immediately eliminated all animal products from my life, including eggs, dairy, wool and leather. People around me told me I was silly, expressed concern for a lack of protein and gave disapproving looks with my lunch plate filled with just veggies. However, I knew the only way to save our dying planet was to stop pillaging that which is not ours to take.

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Soft Skills Needed to Support your Sustainability Efforts

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17, and former student editor of “The SEMBA Review.”

Erin Meezan

Erin Meezan,Vice-President of Sustainability at Interface, Inc. and member of the SEMBA Advisory Board, offered her insights and tips for success with the SEMBA class through the program’s Executive in Residence speaker series, in which leading-edge practitioners share their personal stories and perspectives with students.

Environmentally-friendly carpet manufacturer Interface is a progressive, innovative organization that leads the industry in its full commitment to sustainability. Yet, Erin Meezan still faces resistance and apprehension each day. Meezan’s specific tools, tips and skills are valuable assets to utilize in any career that challenges the status quo, and are especially relevant to SEMBA students.

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