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.
The Knight Foundation is going to make sure the people charged with investing its vast endowment aren’t entirely homogeneous. It’s not just a push for diversity’s sake–it’s also a push for better returns.
In order to create the cash flow necessary to continue issuing grants year after year, most foundations reinvest the majority of their endowment in the open market. Historically, however, major funders haven’t thought a lot about how to use that process itself to do more good.
Earlier this year, the Ford Foundation rethought wasted financial impact by committing a large portion of its endowment toward mission-related investments, creating more capital for change. Now the Knight Foundation, which works to build engaged and informed communities, is trying to address a more creeping societal issue: discrimination against who exactly is enabled to make these investments.
According to a Knight Foundation report, women and minority-owned money management firms are getting shut out of the asset management industry–not just by philanthropies, but by public funds, high-net-worth individual and family offices, and especially corporate interests. The group hopes to change that practice across the entire investment landscape by calling more attention to it.
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.
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.
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).
To enact change, you need to know the actual problem. This statement is far from revolutionary, and perhaps it even sounds a bit boring. Yet not every organization dives deep to fully understand the issues it aims to address. Change the Story VT, however, is not one to fly past the diagnosing stage. Instead, the organization knows that data drives effective goals, without which meaningful change is impossible.
Tiffany Bluemle, Director of Change the Story VT, shared her inspiration last Thursday night at a gathering with SEMBA women and the Vermont Chapter of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), an organization that connects women leaders from all different fields to build better leadership for the future.
This post was written by Brodie O’Brien, SEMBA ’15, and Assistant Marketing Manager – US for Ben & Jerry’s
The University of Vermont’s SEMBA was a twelve month sprint from the nonprofit world to my dream job with a mission-driven company. No matter where you pursue your MBA you’ll be juggling coursework, internships, a social life (if you’re lucky), and maybe a family. It’s an incredibly busy time, so approaching the job search with a clear strategy is key to landing that perfect position.
Brodie, right, registering voters at LOCKN’ Festival with Ben & Jerry’s
To kick-off the autumn SEMBA Advisory Board Meeting, the program’s co-directors and coordinators planned a reception and speed networking event to bring students and advisors together in a formal yet familiar atmosphere. As a SEMBA candidate, one main benefit (among many) is the unique opportunity provided to connect with a variety of seasoned professionals in a range of fields from local, sustainable-energy to impact investing and global healthcare. These prestigious industry leaders have committed to serve on the SEMBA advisory board and invest in its students as well as in the direction and future of the program.
We had the good fortune of getting to know them personally as they welcomed us with enthusiasm at the Advisory Board dinner at Hotel Vermont on October 27, 2016. This intimate event fostered the ideal environment for us to learn more about these industry leaders and their work in sustainable business, as well as the motivators that lead them into their current roles.
Editor’s Note: SEMBA’s goal is to launch its graduates into a deep and tightly connected network of people and companies dedicated to building sustainable enterprises, and to an ethic of disrupting, innovating, and reinventing business in a world that demands it. As part of this effort, SEMBA gives students a myriad of opportunities to meet, network with, and be mentored by sustainable business leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world, and around the corner. In our first event of the academic year, SEMBA students will be connecting with our Council of Mentors on the evening of October 4, 2016.
In light of that event, Caroline Hauser ’16, offer insight and tips on successful networking — and job hunting — in the world of sustainable business.
As a former recruiter and an experienced job searcher, I know a few things about networking, and building careers — it takes a lot of time, a lot of grit, and a lot of hustle. I don’t have all of the answers, but wanted to offer some tried and true advice to job seekers, in hopes that it helps to get someone at least a bit closer to landing a position in a sustainable enterprise that is fulfilling and exciting. Continue reading →