SEMBA, Women Leaders Gather to Work for Change

This post was written by Karen Barnett, SEMBA ‘17

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.

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Soft Skills Needed to Support your Sustainability Efforts

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17, and former student editor of “The SEMBA Review.”

Erin Meezan

Erin Meezan,Vice-President of Sustainability at Interface, Inc. and member of the SEMBA Advisory Board, offered her insights and tips for success with the SEMBA class through the program’s Executive in Residence speaker series, in which leading-edge practitioners share their personal stories and perspectives with students.

Environmentally-friendly carpet manufacturer Interface is a progressive, innovative organization that leads the industry in its full commitment to sustainability. Yet, Erin Meezan still faces resistance and apprehension each day. Meezan’s specific tools, tips and skills are valuable assets to utilize in any career that challenges the status quo, and are especially relevant to SEMBA students.

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Ecotourism in the Face of Sustainability Challenges

This post was written by Karen Barnett, SEMBA ’17

I am 40 feet below sea level at a coral reef site in the Bahamas, unsettled by the scene in front of me. Surrounded by marine life, 11 other tourists, and our scuba diving guides, I first notice one diver’s fins scrape the reef below as he attempts to steady himself. To my right, a diving guide taps a stingray so that the animal will swim away to the visitors’ delight. Another tourist feeds the fish, with feed sold directly from the dive shop.

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” These guidelines stand in contrast to my diving experience, soliciting tourists to enter nature as an observer, not an actor. The same way we don’t visit a national park and expect the weather to perfectly accommodate our schedule, we should not expect wildlife to show themselves for our entertainment.

“How much responsibility do businesses profiting from the natural environment have to enact ecotourism principles in their business models?”

How much responsibility do businesses profiting from the natural environment have to enact ecotourism principles in their business models? A great deal if they want their businesses to thrive in the future.

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Sustainable Business — A Catalyst of Innovation and Investment Returns

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This post was written by Robert Zulkoski, Chairman, Vermont Works Management Company, LLC; Member, Board of Advisors, SEMBA at the University of Vermont; Member of the Board of Directors, BTV Ignite; and Chairman, Greenlots

The integration of environment, social and governance factors (ES&G) into corporate and investment decision making has been gathering momentum over the last decade. Several well-researched reports highlight one of the key drivers underpinning this shift: sustainability and financial performance are linked.

A multitude of constituencies – governments, public companies, impact investment intermediaries, opinion leaders and investors – have contributed to the development of the global social impact investment market. A movement is afoot that represents a significant opportunity for businesses and markets to drive improved social value. By allocating assets towards products, services, and companies that generate positive social impact, the movement toward “impact investing” has the potential to create real value for both investors and for society.

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Impact Investing from Burlington to Botswana

The SEMBA curriculum involves the study of finance through the lens of sustainability, and is supplemented by workshops that include the exploration and discussion of impact investing. This post was written by SEMBA Advisory Board member Rob Morier, Managing Director, Head of North America at Global Evolution.

robInstitutions and individuals, from the trading desk to the university classroom, are rapidly adopting impact investing. The proliferation of funds and research has been a welcome revolution in the asset management industry. Investors have more options and information available to them than ever before as asset management companies and investors hurry to catch a rising tide of opportunity. As defined by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds, with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. While traditional business practices may perpetuate the idea that an organization must choose between doing good and making money, impact investments don’t carry the weight of that trade off, as the intention is to do both.

Although public and private equity markets have been the primary focus for impact investors and asset managers as they set their strategic investment goals pertaining to their mission or value related investments, fixed income has slowly moved from a minor to major player in terms of impact opportunities, despite being a cornerstone of traditional asset allocation models.

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Do You Have What It Takes To Change The World?

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Click to register for this free, informative webinar

Over the past 25 years, most major business schools have added some kind of program focused on sustainability, corporate citizenship, or social entrepreneurship, though they are not integrated into the core DNA of the institution.

The University of Vermont’s Sustainability Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) is unique in that it fundamentally reinvents business screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-5-38-00-pmeducation and the MBA degree to address the urgent sustainability challenges we face in the 21st century. The curriculum is focused 100% on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship. In this webinar, Professor Stuart Hart will describe the design and significance of the SEMBA — a 12 month, AACSB-accredited program focused on developing the next generation of business leaders who will innovate enterprises to move us more rapidly toward a sustainable world. Vinca Krajewski, a SEMBA graduate and currently Associate Brand Manager at Seventh Generation, will describe her experience in the program and how it has uniquely prepared her to be a changemaker for sustainable innovation.

 

Ask questions. Change your life >>

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Five steps to landing the perfect job after your MBA

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.

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Brodie, right, registering voters at LOCKN’ Festival with Ben & Jerry’s

The following five pointers helped me to transition from a career in the nonprofit world working with organizations like 1% for the Planet and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance to my current role at Ben & Jerry’s. SEMBA was a springboard to my position leading integrated marketing campaigns that bring our company’s values to life, like our work protecting voting rights and combating systemic racism.

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Challenging Business to Connect to Sustainable Development Goals

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was previously published on Impakter.com. It was written by Jason Wiff, a member of the SEMBA Class of 2017

global-goalsWith the introduction of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, we are faced with the challenge of implementing these goals into the way we live, impact communities and use business as a catalyst for change. Stuart Hart, one of the world’s leading experts of sustainable enterprise explains his framework for making these changes a reality. This interview has been edited for clarity. Highlights of our conversation are below.

What is your definition of business sustainability?

Stuart Hart: There can be sustainability at many levels. Business sustainability provides functionality that make[s] people’s lives better in ways that are inherently cleaner or regenerative. You’re able to serve and uplift many people in the world, not just a few. Business sustainability has two components: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and financially to propel business forward.

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Innovation: Top 10 Lessons from John Abele

This story was written by Lauren Hesterman, SEMBA ’17. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: SEMBA regularly brings in business icons, executives, and entrepreneurs for hands-on, face-to-face workshops on issues ranging from sustainability to organizational leadership. In mid-October, John Abele, co-founder of the pioneering medical device company Boston Scientific, sat with the SEMBA cohort and talked about innovation and collaboration.

Not surprisingly, I found myself Googling new and exciting ideas no less than a dozen times while listening to John Abele speak to our SEMBA cohort last month. A dozen times – and it most certainly was not because I was distracted or disengaged. Rather, it was quite the opposite.

boston-scientific-us-boston-scientificJohn is one of those people that has inspiration oozing out of him. His relentless curiosity is apparent through and through. He had me searching for a new Irish company that is selling light instead of bulbs, a human anatomy chart, and the economic theories of Elinor Ostrom. Co-founder of Boston Scientific, where scientific innovation and humanitarian collaboration meet, John Abele has been driving innovative medical solutions for more than four decades. While John’s list of tangible accomplishments is enough to fill up a CV many times over, perhaps his greatest asset is his remarkable ability to collaborate.

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