Sustainable Innovation MBA Students Support “Old Spokes Home”

Fundraiser Aids Mission To Provide Mobility and Job Skills To Low Income Vermonters

This post was written by Shari Siegel, ’18

Students from The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018 — Arielle Tatar, Madeline Brumberg, Ian Dechow, and Shari Siegel — donned their tights and jerseys and saddled up for a recent fundraiser for the Old Spokes Home in Burlington.

The unique bike shop is a not-for-profit organization that, in addition to selling and servicing new and used bicycles, helps get bikes into the hands of low income Vermonters who need them for mobility, health and freedom.  In addition to providing bikes, the Old Spokes Home offers job training, classes, social programs and guided rides.  As its leadership says, “we believe bikes are a simple solution to complex problems. We believe there is a bike for every person and every purpose. We believe bikes aid in positive personal and cultural transformation. Bikes connect people to their community, to their own bodies, to their physical environments. Bikes heal. Bikes empower. Bikes mobilize. We believe everyone should have access to bikes. We believe everyone deserves to feel the joy that a bicycle provides. That’s why we’re here.”

Such a mission is embraced by the students who came out for the event. The event exceeded its fundraising goal, and a good time was had by all. 

A New Generation Changing the World, One Business At A Time

We believe business can change the world and, capitalism — disrupted and reinvented — is a force for the economic, environmental, and social change necessary to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Out of this belief, The Sustainable Innovation MBA was created to build the next generation of business leaders who will build, disrupt, innovate, and reinvent sustainable business and enterprises in a world that demands it.

Related Post: “Now, More Than Ever”

With each new cohort arriving on campus we are struck by two things: first, the diversity of experiences and backgrounds in our students, often reaching beyond business, and second, that these students have passionately and intentionally chosen business as a vehicle to change the world.

So, we were pleased — but not surprised — to find this interesting take on the growing attraction among millennials to enter the business world as agents of change. In an article in GreenBiz entitled, “Is business the new destination for millennial activists?“:

“According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 76 percent of millennials view business positively and believe that it has a positive impact on society. The widespread criticism of big business, once so intrinsic to college campuses, is also on the decline with a 16 percent drop since 2015.

“Talented and passionate young people who almost certainly would have gone into the nonprofit or public sector just a generation ago are now more likely to join a mission-driven business.”

The University of Vermont’s one-year Sustainable Innovation MBA was designed from the ground up to challenge the traditional MBA. We enlisted some of the greatest leaders in the field to design and shape our program.

The result? We’ve fundamentally reinvented business education and the MBA degree to address directly the core challenges we face– environment, ethics, poverty and inequality—through the lens of enterprise and entrepreneurship.  In just twelve months, you receive an accredited MBA degree, which includes not only the basic MBA toolkit, but also the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to transform today’s business and create tomorrow’s truly mission-driven, inclusive, and sustainable enterprises.

If you, too, believe in the power of business to change the world, won’t you join us?

Photo: Lisa Carver, KuliKuli Foods.

Innovator in Residence: Hunter Lovins

This post was written by Shari Siegel ’18

L. Hunter Lovins, the dynamic President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions, recently spent the day with The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018. Sporting her signature Stetson hat, Ms. Lovins shared the story of the evolution of her career as a pioneer in sustainable development, and using market-based solutions to forge a better future for ourselves and the planet.

Ms. Lovins first came to prominence as one of the co-authors of the book Natural Capitalism, which was later summarized in the Harvard Business Review. It was the first major publication to posit that the value of the “services” provided by the earth’s ecosystem (such as forests that provide water storage and habitats) were not being accounted for when assessing the costs of natural resources extraction or other economic activity. She and her co-authors, Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken, argued persuasively that the companies that incorporated this insight into their own business plans would improve both the health of the planet and their own bottom lines.

Continue reading “Innovator in Residence: Hunter Lovins”

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Camille Fordy

Meet Camille Fordy ’18, (LinkedIn) who came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA from the Washington, D.C. law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck where she worked in their government relations division. Prior to working at Brownstein, Camille worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staff assistant to Sen. Patrick Leahy and  the Senate Judiciary Committee. This interview was conducted by Peyton White (LinkedIn), an undergraduate Business Administration major in UVM’s Grossman School of Business.

Why did you choose The Sustainable Innovation MBA?

I was MBA-bound for a while. I took the GMAT once and was exploring future options for MBA programs. I did lots of research on two-year programs, which I liked. I was going to push the application process out a year to continue studying for the GMAT, but instead I applied to The Sustainable Innovation MBA. I liked that the opportunity cost of attending The Sustainable Innovation MBA program was only one year and offered me a great change of network, too, away from my primary one in D.C.

“I liked that the opportunity cost of attending The Sustainable Innovation MBA program was only one year.”

What do you like about The Sustainable Innovation MBA?

I know a few individuals who were in previous cohorts. Their growth and experience in The Sustainable Innovation MBA program is inspiring and I really like the uniqueness of the program. I have heard before that “if you don’t go to a Top 10 school, an MBA isn’t worth it.” But after one month, I can say I disagree for many reasons. The program offers many interesting perspectives, classes are intellectually challenging, and we are provided with many opportunities to work in teams. I have found that the teamwork projects have been a great tool to self-assess how I work with others and improve upon my communication, project management, and problem solving skills for use in my future workplace. I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with new people and new personality types that I may never have met in my former workplace. Working in these diverse teams in a low-stakes atmosphere has given me the space to take risks and grow.

Continue reading “Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Camille Fordy”

Watch It Live: The Transformation of the Grossman School of Business

Autumn may be leaf-peeping season in Vermont, but it’s also construction season at the University of Vermont, and the Grossman School of Business. Among the many, many projects at UVM over the last twenty-four months is a significant addition to Kalkin Hall, the School’s home. When completed in 2018, Ifshin Hall will add a significant amount of classroom, office, and multi-purpose space to UVM’s growing and nationally recognized business programs, including The Sustainable Innovation MBA.

Click the video to follow a live feed of the construction.


Considering Leadership Stereotypes in Sustainable Business

This post was written by Julia Lyon ’18 (LinkedIn), a student in The Sustainable Innovation MBA, and a co-editor of the Review.

Picture this: You are employed at a company, in a role that you love, and the CEO is none other than George Costanza. Thinking about his character, do you believe George will be a good leader?

For those of us who are Seinfeld fans, we know that George will likely not be the most effective business leader. But what qualities, assumptions and observations bring us to this conclusion? This question was the opening to the recent Leadership Stereotypes workshop for The Sustainable Innovation MBA students, where the class discussed gender and leadership, implicit biases, and how to apply these insights in leadership and life.

Continue reading “Considering Leadership Stereotypes in Sustainable Business”

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.