Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Shari Siegel

Shari Siegel ’18 came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA progam with an extensive background in law. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

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

I have been a practicing lawyer in various areas of corporate life and a wildly eclectic number of industries (private investments, finance, airlines, manufacturers, software, telecommunications, real estate, mining, retail, etc.).  Much of what I have done professionally has been interesting, challenging, and often fun, and my experience has given me terrific insight into how all sorts of industries and  businesses work and myriad points of view that may come to bear on a question, but I was ready to make a change and to play a different role.

I believe that business can be a powerful force for good in the world when long-term thinking is put into practice, and I want to be among those who are making that happen.  I really wanted to be able to live a more integrated life.  My professional life has accommodated, but not usually incorporated, other aspects of my life that I am passionate about: building community; creating opportunity for aspiring artists and professionals; and promoting ethical stewardship of our environment and natural resources. Those activities have been limited to volunteering in my “spare” time.

For my “next act,” I’m exploring the use of capital investment and the creation and implementation of long-term business strategies to further creating or contributing to a healthy, sustainable business environment with ample career (not just job) opportunities for those who want them.  The Sustainable Innovation MBA program was a perfect opportunity to take the skills and experience I came to the program with and add new skills and perspectives that will allow me to pivot to a satisfying next step.  The insights I get from my professors and fellow students about aspects of business life that have been outside my focus or areas of responsibility are fascinating, and the opportunity to talk to members of the Vermont business community has been invaluable.  UVM has a robust network that is affording me a terrific opportunity to talk to people about various opportunities to put my new and old skills to work in the way I want to.

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

The exposure to all of the people who have been working in fields that are very different from my own and living in other places.  Sharing experiences is enlightening.  Variety truly is the spice of life.

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

Expect to work really, really hard–this program crams a lot of content into one year, and the students who are in the program are serious about their learning experience.  That said, we have some pretty extraordinary professors who go above and beyond to make sure we’re really learning the material; a few have even given up some of their own free days to offer extra classes for us.

Teamwork is crucial.

If you come visit us this year and see the construction we’re living through, don’t worry: it’s supposed to be over for the next cohort.

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

It has made me really excited about the possibilities out there.  We’ve also gotten to meet current professionals working in areas we’re studying, tour numerous local businesses and engage in conferences of interest.