This post was written by Chris Howell, a member of the SEMBA Class of 2017.
One of SEMBA’s more impressive elements is the program’s direct connection to so many innovators in the discipline and practice of sustainable entrepreneurship. From our well-connected advisory board to the steady stream of speakers from a range of industries, our network grows by the week.
This week, we had the pleasure of attending a talk and class with Michael Russo, professor of Sustainable Management and head of the Department of Management at University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business.
Caroline Hauser, SEMBA Class of 2016 (Valedictorian), on the benefits of spending a year in one of America’s most livable cities
“I could not have asked for a better experience living and learning in Burlington while working toward an MBA.”
I moved to Burlington to start the SEMBA program last August. I’d visited the prior April — it snowed twice and the lake was still frozen. It was freezing but I still fell in love with the view of the Adirondacks over Lake Champlain, the energy of Church Street, and the dollar oysters at Hen of the Wood.
Arriving for school at the end of summer, I drove up from Pennsylvania with my parents and as soon as we crossed the border into Vermont it just felt different. Everything looked brighter, cleaner, fresher. To this day, I am in awe of how beautiful it is here. I could not have asked for a better experience living and learning in Burlington while working toward an MBA.
On August 12, 2016, Paul Laudicina, partner and chairman emeritus of A.T. Kearney, addressed SEMBA’s 2016 graduating class. In a wide-ranging speech with a broad historical arc, Laudicina made a powerful case for the “SEMBA Movement,” where businesses and business leaders committed to sustainability will leading us through this significant and challenging period of history.
“There is simply too much riding on your shoulders as the next generation of leaders for you to unplug. We desperately need your know-how, vision, passion, courage, and purpose to lead us through these challenging times. You could not be going out into the world to apply what you have learned at a more critical time—in many ways a “best of times, worst of times” interlude in world history.
“We stand at the threshold of the most incredible advances ever—in medicine, in life expectancy, in educational attainment, in extraordinary technological advances. Yet, we also live today in a world more troubled and challenged than at any time in modern history—surely than at any time in my history…people are feeling uneasy, apprehensive, insecure, and unhappy with the present, and fearful of the future.
“You will be challenged to lead in a world more complex and difficult than at any time in the past couple of decades.
By Joseph Fusco, Vice President, Casella Waste Systems, Inc., and Chair, SEMBA Advisory Board
You should know this about the company I work for: it is a mundane business. We are not superstars in the sustainability movement. Our name certainly wouldn’t escape from your lips should you be asked to name a fashionable triple bottom line company.
However, a few years ago, we had a moment of clarity. Suddenly, we realized our entire existence was based on a business model that was simply unsustainable.
We had to ask ourselves a very important question: what will the world — the planet, our markets, our customers, our communities — expect from us in twenty or thirty years? What will we get paid for?