National Climate Economy Summit Comes to UVM

This post was written by Sam Carey, Sustainable Innovation MBA ’18

Entrepreneurs, policymakers, and folks from around the United States interested in a transformation of the economy gathered at the University of Vermont September 6 – 8 for the Catalysts of the Climate Economy National Innovation Summit.  Students from The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018 took a break from the classroom to attend the conference, and network with climate economy thinkers, innovators, and business leaders.

The Summit was sponsored by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. Presentations and sessions highlighted the work of entrepreneurs, leaders, and visionaries who view climate change as an enormous business and economic development opportunity.  The conference focused on what is currently being done, inherent challenges, and ways to meet ambitious targets.  For example, Vermont has been working towards 90 percent renewable energy by 2050; meanwhile California is pushing for total electrification and complete clean energy by 2030.

The climate economy conference kicked off Wednesday evening with a keynote speech by noted entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken, who presented a comprehensive new approach to reversing climate change, central to his new book Drawdown.  

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Innovator in Residence: Laura Asiala

This post was written by Keil Corey, Sustainable Innovation MBA ’18

Recently Laura Asiala, Senior Fellow at PYXERA Global and a Sustainable Innovation MBA Advisory Board member, joined this year’s cohort for an in-class discussion on the role that business can play in addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges.

Before joining the PYXERA team, Asiala had been the Director of Corporate Citizenship at Dow Corning Company. Over three decades in the corporate sector taught her that environmental and social sustainability are not hindrances to business; rather, they can ensure long-term success and profitability. She carries that vision forward in her current role at PYXERA, where she works to leverage the strengths of corporations, governments, social sector organizations, educational institutions, and individuals to solve complex problems in inclusive and sustainable ways.

Of particular interest to Asiala is how corporations can and must play a role in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. Adopted in 2015, the Global Goals identify specific targets and timelines that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. At PYXERA, she is working on aligning multi-sector stakeholders toward those ends.

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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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What Are The 10 Key Things That Make A City Smart?

This article was written by Brian Lakamp, founder and CEO of Totem, and originally appeared at readwrite.com. Totem is working to combine modern communications, advanced energy, and distributed intelligence into a single, powerful platform for modern campuses, retail centers, commercial facilities, cities and beyond. Brian participated in a workshop for Sustainable Innovation MBA students in the Spring of 2017.

After Mobile World Congress and IoT World earlier this year, there was a lot of buzz about 5G, smart mobility, general IoT, and smart cities. It feels like we’re entering the future, and the excitement is palatable.

Unfortunately, there are many soldiers on the battlefield without a plan.

Smart cities need an orchestration framework. The smart cities of tomorrow require more than simply deploying connectivity, sensors, and devices. Incrementalism will not serve cities well. Foresight and planning are necessary to build cities that are truly smart.

Here are 10 key elements that are required for truly smart cities and for understanding any smart city initiative in context.

#1: Ubiquitous connectivity

It’s tough for a city to be smart without redundant, high-speed, low-latency wireless communications. That’s why 5G has so much attention and is so exciting.

For 5G to be maximally effective, the deployment strategy needs to bring 5G closer to the “action” than where a lot of 4G currently resides. To support real-time decisioning for autonomous vehicles, for example, 5G needs to live on the streets. It needs to be directly paired with curbside cameras, sensors, and processing that can, without a nanosecond of delay, support high-speed vehicles in motion.

Smart city architectures must also include low-power wireless access (LPWA) that supports power-limited devices. For things like battery-powered devices floating in wells that report water level once a day, an energy-efficient communication protocol is paramount in such scenarios.

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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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From the Web: In Search of Sustainable Leadership: An Opportunity Mindset

Our search for sustainable leadership has shown how defining vision, values and purpose helps organizations to adapt seamlessly to change. This brings competitive advantage that grows stronger with each challenge, built on courage, enthusiasm and the passion of the human spirit. But before we can define an inspiring vision, we first need to choose a way forward. We will do that better if we first identify a range of options.

Here’s how sustainable leaders are able to identify more opportunities to move forward during times of change.

Learn more (via Sustainable Brands) >>

From the Web: US Business Schools Failing on Climate Change

Coca-Cola and Nestlé have recently closed facilities, and Starbucks is bracing for a global shortage of coffee — all due to effects from climate change. Climate change impacts every resource used by businesses: from agriculture, water, land and energy to workers and the economy. No business will be untouched.

Future business leaders are not being prepared for the climate change challenges their companies are certain to face. (Except for those at SEMBA, of course!)

Learn more (via DESMOG) >>

A ‘Shark Tank’ for Impact Investing: SEMBA’s Net Impact Chapter Featured

This post was edited by Mike Rama, SEMBA ’17, and originally was featured on Net Impact’s Hub Announcements.

The SEMBA Net Impact chapter held a pitch event described as a “Shark Tank for impact investing.”
Net Impact is an accelerator with chapters across the country that works to orient professionals and students to solve social and environmental challenges. The SEMBA Net Impact chapter is a hybrid chapter at the University of Vermont, Grossman School of Business, focused on bringing together current students, alumni, and community members in an effort to mobilize awareness and action on sustainability.

What makes this chapter stand out is the unique programming that equips its members with the skills and connections to drive impact now and throughout their careers. “Our chapter programming falls under three main categories: skill development, alumni relationships, and building collaborative networks with the community and other academic departments,” says Michael Rama, the Vice-President of the chapter.

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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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Tackling Sustainability Through Food: How a Burlington Restaurant is Making a Difference

This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17

In SEMBA, we are encouraged to connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs that are currently driving business to create a social and environmental good. As part of an assignment for our Entrepreneurial Leadership and Mindset class with Dita Sharma, my classmate Julie Allwarden and I sat down with the owner of Pingala restaurant, Trevor Sullivan, to talk about what inspired his business.

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