Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Seth Gillim

Seth Gillim ’18 came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA from the Intervale Conservation Nursery, where he was the manager of production, education, and community management. He was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

It’s a fantastic opportunity for those seeking to pivot mid-career. Prior to The Sustainable Innovation MBA, I worked in agriculture and non-profits and I had reached a point where opportunities for learning and advancement had flattened out. As a working parent of two young girls, the thought of being in graduate school for years on was overwhelming. The one-year curriculum is perfect for those looking to re-launch their careers quickly.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

The teamwork. Nearly every aspect of the program involves group work on some level. This gives you a great opportunity to develop project management and collaborative skills, learn from your classmates, and develop deep and lasting friendships.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

First, applicants should know that while the program requires an incredible amount of work in a short amount of time, and you will not fail. The professors are all very supportive. Your teammates encourage you and push you to new levels. It’s a unique and special experience to be around so many Type As who are also fully invested in each other’s success and well-being. Second,  Burlington has a very collaborative business ecosystem, which means you can knock on just about anyone’s door and they will talk to you. Successful students schedule a lot of informational interviews and attend networking events. And, third, if you’re not comfortable putting together and giving great presentations in a really tight time frame, you will be.

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

The program forces you to think outside the box and make connections. The coursework and extra-curricular experiences have allowed me to consolidate my various skills and interests into a viable career direction.

Anything else?

I’m really jealous of next year’s cohort, who will enjoy a brand-new building (Ifshin Hall) and expanded facilities.

CEO Profile: Andrew Arnott of John Hancock Investments

This post was written by Taylor Mikell ’18

Late in 2017, I interviewed Andrew Arnott, CEO of John Hancock Investments. I am fortunate to be acquainted with Mr. Arnott through the school where I worked for the past eight years, and as the leader of a large, high profile organization, I was curious to hear his perspectives on the concepts of leadership and teamwork that we’ve discussed in The Sustainable Innovation MBA program.

Mr. Arnott describes his background as somewhat atypical among public company CEOs in that he had lots of operations experience, but relatively little formal leadership training, when he started as CEO. His style is therefore largely self-taught, but I was not surprised that his sentiments echoed what The Sustainable Innovation MBA has taught us so far.

A theme that recurred throughout our conversation is that Mr. Arnott sees his role much more as a people-managing job rather than a task-managing job. From his stated goal of assembling his core team so that he can (humbly) say “I’m the dumbest one in the room,” to insisting that “our business can’t be successful unless our customers are successful,” Mr. Arnott stressed in all his answers that maintaining personal relationships and strong organizational culture are key pieces of his job description. He underscored this point by repeating that his goal was to create a family-like atmosphere. For example, on the day I spoke with him, he had been to an office holiday party at a branch office in Portsmouth, NH in order to “stay visible and accessible to the people there.”

One challenge for him is that, since he has intimate knowledge of his business’ operations, he has to consciously work to not get too far “down in the weeds” with minutiae because, although he cares deeply about these details, “if you come across as too frantic or intense then you become unapproachable and you lose touch with people.” For me, this idea harkened back to Joe Fusco’s oft-quoted line that “leadership is a love affair with the truth.” In order to make the best decisions for his organization, Mr. Arnott’s strategy is to carefully manage all the personal relationships his job presents so that he knows he has the best possible information — the truth. Very consistent with The Sustainable Innovation MBA worldview!

 

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Ben Hastings

Prior to joining The Sustainable Innovation MBA program,  Ben Hastings ’18  worked at Tiffany & Co. as a Global Sustainability Assistant. He was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM. 

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

To work with the best and brightest in the sustainability field.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

The guest speakers from Vermont companies offering guidance and expertise.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone (in a good way).

2. You learn as much from your peers as you do from professors.

3. Be prepared to perform skits!

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

This program is helping to open up my creativity and entrepreneurial spirit!

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Lauren Emenaker

Lauren Emenaker ’18 came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA after spending time in Colorado as a Marketing Manager at the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I had been working in marketing roles since undergrad and wanted to learn more about the other aspects of running a business. I was drawn to The Sustainable Innovation MBA program because of its focus on sustainability and entrepreneurship, specifically creating long-lasting businesses that will do good for the community and environment.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

My favorite part has been learning from our diverse cohort and faculty, both in and out of the classroom. I also really enjoyed hearing from the guest speakers about their experiences in the field and their desires to create a more sustainable world.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1. It is an accelerated program so be ready to put lots of time and energy into classwork and team projects.

2. You will form lifelong friendships and connections.

3. That everything takes place in one classroom.

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

The Sustainable Innovation MBA has helped me have more meaningful conversations, think more strategically, question assumptions, and learn the foundations of business and sustainability. This program has helped me to better understand why some companies succeed and some companies fail.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Mark Mallory

Mark Mallory ’18 did his undergraduate work at UVM, earning a degree in community entrepreneurship with a minor in economics. After a period of travel, and gaining experience in sales and real estate management, Mark returned to his alma mater and The Sustainable Innovation MBA. He was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I chose to attend the program because I want to expand my knowledge of business and sustainability and use that knowledge — and connections made through the program — to propel my career. I have high aspirations to be successful in the business world and make a lasting impact on society.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

My favorite aspect of the program has been the collaborative and supportive environment from both the faculty and classmates. I also am enjoying the broad and in-depth curriculum that challenges us every day. I think that what we’re learning is going to very relevant and applicable in the current world and into the future.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

  1. The program moves quickly. You’ll need to be proactive and manage time well.
  2. The main difference from traditional MBAs is the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork (which I think is very relevant for the modern landscape).
  3. There is a ton of information to soak in. I would advise not to get ridiculously caught up in every little detail that is presented throughout all the courses in the program. Part of this year is to learn more about what interests you and to understand how to leverage the tools that The Sustainable Innovation MBA is giving to go and succeed in the real world. Getting stressed out over small details I think can potentially limit ones ability to maximize their time in the program.

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

The program is giving me the tools that I need to succeed in the business world. We are learning all of the foundations of business, but taking into account how it relates to the world today and how business will look in the future. The collaboration with students from a variety of backgrounds have given me many new perspectives, which I think is helping me grow as an individual and understand new ideas and possible solutions to problems. I have also gained much more insight about career opportunities through the connections I have made.

Alumni in Review: Margaret Arzon, Class of 2017

Margaret Arzon is currently working with the Ethical Shareholder Initiative (ESI) as a business consultant. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Why did you choose to attend this MBA program?

To learn the skills and tools necessary to build and run social enterprises.

What was your favorite part about the experience?

Networking, learning about teamwork and leadership, and how to run a business.

How are you applying the tools/skills you learned in the program, post-MBA?

I apply tools and skills from the program every day. Just today I was in a meeting and referenced the business canvas model I created with my team in Module 2, for RevitaFiber, and how some of the questions we received about the business applied to the project I am working on now.

What would you tell someone who is considering the Sustainable Innovation MBA?

Definitely do it.

Alumni in Review: Meghan Whirley, Class of 2015

Meghan Whirley ’15 is currently working as a Sustainability Procurement Manager for Food Service Partners Inc. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

What have you been up to since graduation?

Following graduation, I moved to northern California and been working in sustainable food systems and institutional purchasing. I first worked at the University of California – Davis as Dining Services’ Sustainability Manager, then in December 2016, I took a position as the Sustainable Purchasing Manager and Account Manager for FoodService Partners based in South San Francisco.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program? 

I chose the program for multiple reasons. Primarily, I was seeking to transition into a for-profit business role and to take my experience to the next level. The Sustainable Innovation MBA is unique because it provided me with business skills, and the way to leverage my knowledge better, but truly it trained me to look long-term and with a systems-based mentality in every respect.

What was your favorite part about the experience?

Working in teams taught me a lot in how to communicate and work together in a professional capacity, as well as furthering lessons beyond the classroom. I learned so much from all aspects of the practicum experience, not simply from the material but also by working with Aaron Sonk, my practicum partner.

How are you applying the tools/skills you learned in the program, post-MBA?

I learned so much about myself during the year in The Sustainable Innovation MBA, about my strengths and weaknesses. I carry this love of the truth and feedback — as Joe Fusco would put it — everyday. Applying that to each interaction, and reflecting afterwards, has been so helpful. But also I find that I have more skills in project management and thinking broadly and systemically than many of my colleagues.

What would you tell someone who is considering The Sustainable Innovation MBA?

I have told prospective students that if you’re looking for an MBA there are so many great programs, but if they’re seeking to marry business skills with creating positive impacts, long-term results, and problem-solving in a way that isn’t “business as usual,” then UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA is the place to go.

 

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Kaitlin Sampson

Kaitlin Sampson ’18 came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA from the hospitality industry, most recently with Marriott International, where she was an Area Sales & Marketing Manager. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.  

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I wanted to pivot my career path toward work that was more meaningful.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

The organizational behavior courses have been my favorite part of the program.  Our courses teach you how to go from a good leader to a great leader and how to use those skills to create a transformational culture within the workplace.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

The amazing network that the program provides, the diversity in classwork and the diversity of students.

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

It has helped me reflect on my passions and strengths, and given me the confidence in the business world for post SIMBA.

 

Alumni in Review: Chris Howell, Class of 2017

Chris Howell ’17 is currently working as a finance and investment consultant. He was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.  

What have you been up to since graduation?

I’m currently working with mission-driven businesses who are raising investment money to fund expansion: structuring a Series A for a SaaS business, working with a farm to purchase additional land, and advising an equity crowdfunding platform.

 Why did you choose to attend this MBA program?

I chose the UVM MBA program to deepen my Vermont network and broaden my business skill set.

What was your favorite part about the experience?

My favorite part of the experience was the people. The academic experience was top notch—thanks to the professors, staff, and classmates who worked hard to create a supportive and engaging learning environment.

How are you applying the tools/skills you learned in the program, post-MBA?

Working on diverse consulting projects after the program has allowed me to use the broad range of tools we learned—from organizational design to finance and venture capital.

What would you tell someone who is considering the Sustainable Innovation MBA?

Dive in. The program was an exceptionally challenging and immensely rewarding learning experience.

 

Alumni in Review: Caitlin Goss, Class of 2017

This post was written by Camille Fordy ’18.

Caitlin Goss ’17 is Director of People & Culture at Rhino Foods, headquartered in Burlington, Vermont. In some ways, Caitlin’s role at the head of the firm’s human resources team is similar to the traditional human resources professional. But Rhino’s commitment to impacting the manner in which business is done creates a broader scope for her work and is aligned with her commitment to workforce development and The Sustainable Innovation MBA mindset and toolkit.

Originally from Hinesburg, Vermont, Caitlin left to pursue an undergraduate degree at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and later moved to Boston where she worked at Bain & Company, a top global management consulting company. At Bain & Company, Caitlin worked on analysis and employee engagement as part of the firm’s global human capital team to attract, engage and retain employees. Her success at Bain & Company enabled her to live in Shanghai for several years.

Looking for an opportunity to move closer to home, Caitlin discovered the University of Vermont’s Sustainable Innovation MBA. The program provided Caitlin with the opportunity to return to Vermont and to plug into the local professional community. While still a young program, The Sustainable Innovation MBA has already developed a strong reputation in the Vermont business community. Its growing network of graduates are focused on building future partnerships and synergies across all domains of business in the state and region. The program also gave Caitlin fundamental tools and business “fluency” to succeed in any business environment.  

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