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.

Making Time for Reflection: Module 2 Comes to An End

This post was written by Greg Paylor ’18

The final two weeks of Module 2 have arrived! As have exams, the due dates of many individual assignments, and many team related deliverables. It’s an exciting time and the pressure dial has been cranked up a few notches. In an intensive MBA program such as this one, especially now, I find myself completing tasks and moving on to the next in rapid succession.

Finding time to both reflect on and celebrate successful team projects, or debrief on things that could have worked better, has often taken a backseat to other pressing needs.

One of my favorite assignments from this module came in our Leading for Sustainable Innovation class with Professor Kenneth De Roeck. We were asked to write two “Leadership Reflection” papers on past experiences we have had pertaining to leadership and motivation. Professor De Roeck would then use student responses (anonymously) in class to frame course concepts and organizational behavior theories.

At a very high level, some of the questions that we were prompted with were: “Describe an Experience with Injustice (Unfair Treatment) in the
Workplace”, “Insights about Your Own Less-Than- Ideal Performance,” “Describe a Leader that Inspired (or Inspires) You,” and “Describe Your Experience(s) with Organizational Change.” Sitting down to write
these papers was truly an experience. I found myself thinking about things that hadn’t crossed my mind in years.

As Module 2 comes to an end and winter break begins, first and foremost I am looking forward to spending quality time with my wonderful wife. I am also looking forward to reflecting on these first two modules and really  reexamining and interpreting the experiences that I have had in this program because so much has happened already. It is with reflection that we gain a new understanding and making time for this will be a priority for me going forward.

Together Like Peas and Carrots: Managing Your Semester and Your CSA…

Are they simply veggies in your refrigerator? Think again as Madeline Brumberg ’18 reflects on the learning, networking, and self-management opportunities in her fall CSA.

By the end of the week, I am usually ready to catch up on missed sleep or take off to the woods with my dog. The sight of my fridge, however, chock full of vegetables waiting to be cooked, tells me I better stay inside and cook.

This was the weekly struggle this semester as I attempted to keep up with classwork, teamwork, and a community supported agriculture (CSA) share. My share, paid for at the beginning of the season to provide farmers a more stable income and seed start up costs, got delivered weekly to a campus drop off spot.  (For more information about CSAs please see this blog post from a local farm.) As the seasons changed, my share changed from bags of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, to bags of potatoes, squash, and kale.  The share which I chose was very abundant and I had to be very diligent in cooking to minimize my food waste.

A number of other students in the program also had CSAs and we swapped ideas for getting through seemingly endless amounts of carrots and cabbage.  We all depended heavily of veggie stir fries with a side of rice or quinoa, but this got dull after a couple of weeks and we had to branch out.  A favorite recipe to emerge out of desperation to use up cabbage and potatoes was a stir fry of those two with ground sausage from Vermont Salumi, whole-grain mustard, and pepitas. The excess CSA veggies brought some of the students together for homemade dinners.  We used the opportunity to collaborate on recipes, talk through assignments, study for exams, and unwind after a long week of classes.

Managing to use vegetables before they went bad and getting my homework done provided me with an excellent opportunity to practice time management.  I depended on my crockpot and roasting so that I could cook and do assignments at the same time.  Sometimes, though, I would take the evening off to go through my whole fridge and cook up anything and everything in there.  Those nights were an opportunity for me to reflect on what I was learning in this program.  With the break neck speed of this program, finding moments like these have been paramount.  Getting through CSA vegetables has been a good excuse to do just that.

So is it possible to get through your CSA and your semester?  Yes, it just takes a little planning and some teamwork.

Work Hard, Play Hard: Making Time for A Little Fun

This post was written by Kaitlin Sampson ’18

As the semester ends it’s important to reflect on the amazing amount of work we’ve accomplished — and the fun we’ve had.  After spending our days in class and our nights reading, writing, and studying it’s hard to believe we might have a free minute, but there’s always time for a little fun.  This semester The Sustainable Innovation MBA cohort enjoyed a variety of activities outside the classroom.  Here’s a small recap of the many events and activities we participated in outside of The Sustainable Innovation MBA classroom.

Hiking & Biking and More

With some very experienced hikers in this year’s cohort we’ve had a handful of successful hikes including Mt. Mansfield and Starks Nest.  Other classmates have hit the road and enjoyed a charity bike ride for Old Spokes Home and one of our very own classmates, Becky Miller, led a local yoga class that many attended.  Being a graduate student at UVM means you get to enjoy a beautiful landscape and a vibrant community. Beyond the university offerings, Burlington has a variety of outdoor offerings for everyone.

Intramural Sports

During the semester, almost half of our class participated in intramural sports offered by campus recreation. Campus Recreation offers a variety of options from multi-week team sports to one-night clinics, all free, or practically free.  As a class we competed in broomball, kickball and volleyball. Games are weekly and the games and the season-ending tournament usually last from 4  to 6 weeks.  While we didn’t take home any campus-wide championships this semester, we won some games, worked off some steam and got a little exercise, which is always nice after sitting in class for most of the day.  There were also awesome events like a “Learn How to Curl” event in which a local curling club taught us the basics of curling.  Due to our busy schedules, we won’t be joining the 2018 Winter Olympics, but we might shoot for the 2022 Winter games.

Pot Lucks

Who doesn’t love food?  Luckily our class is blessed with some amazing cooks and bakers alike, making any pot luck gathering irresistible.  From our first fall BBQ, which included way too much food, to our “Simbagiving” dinner we always enjoy gathering outside of the classroom to share a meal.  It’s a great opportunity to try some new cuisine and learn more about our classmates.  Next up on our agenda is an Ugly Sweater Party to celebrate the end of the semester!

A Little More Fun…

Other Fun Activities have included group trips to get our flu shots, concerts, and many magical trips to the UVM Medical Center’s Harvest Café where we enjoy breakfast, lunch and snacks.  Later this winter, we’ll be taking a trip to King Arthur Flour and are looking forward to enjoying our student ski passes at Sugarbush, Stowe and Bolton.  All in all we’re busy, but don’t let our many academic blog posts fool you — we still have time for a little fun.

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.


Food for Thought: Questions From the National Net Impact Conference

This post was written by Arielle Tatar ‘18

As members of The Sustainable Innovation MBA’s local chapter, Sarah Healey ‘18 and I attended the national Net Impact conference in Atlanta, GA in late-October.

All the sessions and keynotes were, of course, very informative and interesting (I am happy to share my notes to anyone who is interested in the speakers and discussions. Email me your contact information).

However, I’d like to challenge you to think about different perspectives of sustainability. I attended multiple small group sessions revolving around the food and agriculture industries. The following questions were brought up by either the speakers or members of the audience.

Topic: Sustainable Agriculture in the 21st Century:

Panelists: Jerry Lynch, VP of Sustainability, General Mills; Keith Kenny, VP of Sustainability, McDonald’s; Shari Rogge-Fidler, CEO, Applied Geosolutions; Will Harris, 6th generation Georgia farmer

  1. There​ ​are​ ​struggles​ ​with​ ​commodities​ ​that​ ​are​ ​geographically​ ​specific​. How​ ​do​ ​we​ ​support those​ ​farmers​ ​and​ ​support​ ​resilience?
  2. What are the challenges as we look to the future?
  3. What are the barriers to catalyzing change and how do we overcome them?
  4. How do you quantify environmental risk?
  5. How can we think differently to achieve our agriculture objectives?
  6. What is our mutual responsibility to both people and the world?
  7. How do we keep using food to bond people together?
  8. How do we make industrial farms more sustainable?
  9. What excites you about the future of sustainable agriculture?
  10. How do you help other farms by being a role model?

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Questions From the National Net Impact Conference”

Tech Start-Up Helps Farmers Grow More, Waste Less

This article was written by Margaret Arzon ’17 and originally appeared at Margaret is currently a Business Strategy Consultant.

Accessing Information through Mobile Technology Gives Smallholder Farmers Much-Needed Support

Walking through the streets of India, it’s hard not to notice the plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that line the sidewalks, pretty much everywhere you go. Just a short 30-minute drive out of the city center lands you in acres of cultivated fields where many of these crops originate.

Roughly 50 percent of India’s workforce is devoted to agriculture. This demographic is common in many other emerging and frontier countries where a dominant proportion of the population relies on farming for its livelihood. Smallholder farmer is a title given to people who own less than five acres of arable land. The vast majority of smallholder farmers live in a cyclical pattern of poverty as they struggle to access markets and sell their products at the best price. Lack of market access means that farmers often lose money, even in a high growth season, and a perfectly good harvest goes to waste. With such a fragmented system in rural areas, it is extremely challenging for farmers to generate a profit to support themselves and their families.

Lack of market access means that farmers often lose money, even in a high growth season, and a perfectly good harvest goes to waste. With such a fragmented system in rural areas, it is extremely challenging for farmers to generate a profit to support themselves and their families.

Smallholder farmers are not insignificant. Collectively, they represent 500 million farms around the world and employ approximately 2 billion people. They are responsible for about 80 percent of the food consumed in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As the global population size charges toward an estimated 9 billion by 2050, the demand on smallholder farmers to increase crop yield will only continue to rise, along with the critical need to mitigate post-harvest losses. Analysts predict that food access will need to increase by 70 percent to feed 2 billion additional people on the planet, and production in developing countries would need to almost double. Food security is a global issue, and one that requires partnerships across all sectors to solve.

Continue reading “Tech Start-Up Helps Farmers Grow More, Waste Less”