An MBA Finds Cold Comfort In Solving A Nation’s Food Waste

This article was written by Taylor Ralph ’17 and originally appeared at GreenBiz.com. Taylor is currently an Agricultural Supply Chains Consultant at SSG Advisors.

 

This spring, a global manufacturer of industrial refrigeration equipment asked me and another MBA candidate — eager, passionate students with a slew of newly minted sustainable business pedagogies in our quiver — to explore emerging market opportunities that also tackled global social and environmental issues. Our project was a result of the company’s strategic focus on tackling major world issues that go beyond eco-efficiency, such as food loss.

Sellers at a warehouse in São Paulo, Brazil, unload a truck of unrefrigerated watermelons.

My classmate Brett Spusta and I began the project with two parameters: we’d be exploring the issue of food loss and we’d be doing so in Brazil. Beyond that, it was up to us to narrow the scope of our research, develop a team of research partners on the ground, ask the right questions and formulate strategies that could produce cold chain innovation, create meaningful social and environmental impact and be scaled.

It was an MBA student’s dream come true.

What began as a cumbersome undertaking crystallized into a specific, surprising and insightful set of actionable recommendations tailored to Brazil’s unique market.

Continue reading “An MBA Finds Cold Comfort In Solving A Nation’s Food Waste”

Martine Rothblatt: Innovating Through Radio and Therapeutics

This post was written by Lauren Emenaker ‘18

Martine Rothblatt, Founder and CEO of United Therapeutics, could easily be considered the most interesting and inspiring speaker anyone has heard in many years. Martine visited UVM on October 11, 2017 (International Woman’s Day) and sat with Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell for a conversation in front of a sizable crowd at Alumni House. Here’s a brief overview. 

During a break from undergraduate studies, Rothblatt was inspired by traveling and working with a NASA satellite station. She wondered if it would be possible to have something in the Earth’s orbit that could give music to the world. Feeling enthused, she returned to school to study communication. She continued onto grad school and graduated from UCLA with JD-MBA degree. All the while, Rothblatt’s passion for satellite communication continued to remain at the forefront of her life, leading her to become founder and CEO of SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Continue reading “Martine Rothblatt: Innovating Through Radio and Therapeutics”

The Cape Wind Project: The Importance of Strategic Messaging

A student team in The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018 conducted this speculative case analysis in their “Sustainable Brand Marketing” course for the ill-fated Cape Wind offshore wind farm in Cape Cod, Mass. The team consisted of Julia Barnes, Taylor Mikell, Julia Lyon, and Randy Baron. This article was primarily written and adapted for the Review by Ms. Barnes.

The case study is a lesson in what can happen when one loses control of the narrative surrounding a controversial project and fails to invest strategically in stewarding innovation through the gauntlet of implementation. This is what can happen when strategic messaging is undervalued – the first offshore wind farm in America stalled in 2015 and is considered dead.

Jim Gordon, a Boston entrepreneur who made his fortune in energy, conceived of the Cape Wind offshore wind farm as the next step in his mission to provide efficient and environmentally sound energy. After all, wind power had already proved successful in Europe and the technology was becoming more sophisticated every year. The cost of successful wind power generation in countries like Denmark and Germany was even as low as $.04 per KW hour. Gordon had also identified an attractive location – Horseshoe Shoal, off the coast of Hyannis Port, Mass. where a 130-turbine farm could theoretically make an extremely significant dent in the use of fossil fuel for residents of Cape Cod. With depth and wave conditions that made construction of these huge turbines feasible, Gordon was looking at an investment of over a billion dollars to see his dream of offshore wind energy come to life.

However, he faced a number of issues in executing the Cape Wind vision. First, Gordon immediately ran into extreme and well-funded opposition from rich property owners along the coast who did not want to see their ocean view marred by wind turbines. People from the Koch Brothers to Bunny Mellon to Walter Cronkite joined forces behind the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound (APNS): a NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) group flush with cash and influence who set out to discredit Gordon and undercut the validity of the Cape Wind project. Second, Cape Wind faced prominent political opposition. The influence and connections of the APNS board members wreaked havoc for Cape Wind’s political standing and extensive lobbying efforts damaged the progress of what would have otherwise been a highly embraced endeavor. Finally, Cape Wind was an expensive undertaking – one whose fluctuations in cost had significant impact on its timeline.

Problem Analysis: Well-funded NIMBYism – The coast of Massachusetts along Nantucket Sound is home to many extremely wealthy and influential residents. Exhibit 8 shows the span of wealth that runs from Oyster Harbor to the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis. These multi million-dollar views would be impacted by the construction of Cape Wind. The obstruction was enough to have them form APNS and arm it with millions of dollars in funds, high-powered lobbying efforts, and a massive public relations campaign to discredit and destroy Cape Wind. As APNS alleged, Cape Wind would negatively impact commercial and recreational boating, impair fishing, harm tourism, kill bird populations and upset the Cape’s tax base with property value decline. While citing factually based evidence to the contrary, Gordon also answered these claims with impact studies and the support of Clean Power Now, a pro-wind, grassroots community group with pennies compared to APNS. APNS was skilled in enlisting Chambers of Commerce, town government, fishermen, lobstermen and boaters to their cause – a middle-class demographic that had little in common with the rich individuals behind the AstroTurf movement.

Continue reading “The Cape Wind Project: The Importance of Strategic Messaging”

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. 

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”

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”

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.  

Continue reading “National Climate Economy Summit Comes to UVM”

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.

Continue reading “Innovator in Residence: Laura Asiala”

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.”

Continue reading “Global Evolution and The Sustainable Innovation MBA Explore Link between Sustainable Investing and Development”

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.

Continue reading “What Are The 10 Key Things That Make A City Smart?”