Breaking Boundaries

“The cost of not doing something is much higher than doing something.” – Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, in his keynote address at The Net Impact 2014 Conference

Last week I had the chance to attend the Net Impact Conference in Minneapolis. The theme of the conference was Breaking Boundaries.

The conference was held in beautiful downtown Minneapolis.

The conference was held in beautiful downtown Minneapolis.

Net Impact is an organization focused on creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world. At the conference over 3,000 students and professionals came together to share this vision and learn about each other. Conference speakers included executives from Target, 3M, Best Buy, Coca Cola, Campbell Soup Company, Monsanto, General Mills Inc., and many others. I was surprised how passionately these companies embraced the ideals of Net Impact and they are looking for like minded people to lead their companies into the future. Each session reaffirmed what we are learning in the classroom, from accounting to systems and design thinking, is what is needed to succeed in the real world.


The “Hub” is where conference attendees could gather to network, grab a snack or just relax throughout the day.


Vani and Dan hang out with the Target dog in the Hub.


Caitlin participates in one of the interactive sessions during the conference. She is building a solar lamp for global education in a session sponsored by 3M.


Attendees listen intently to a panel discussion with CEOs of start-ups during the conference.

The conference reaffirmed that business can impact society. Regardless of the career path, I plan to be an agent of change and it is good to know I am not alone.

GaBi Training with PE International

We were stunned to learn how many different processes and materials it takes to produce a seemingly simple basketball.

We were recently trained to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment using GaBi software in Dr. Robert Sroufe’s course.  This software models all the elements of a product or system from cradle to cradle.  It gives businesses the information they need to make the most informed decisions on the manufacturing and life cycle of a product. GaBi is the premier LCA software and is used by hundreds of companies all over the world including Bayer, Bombardier Transportation, DuPont and Toyota.

We worked directly with a facilitator from PE International via web-conferencing. Students were able to model all the products and services that went into producing the final product. The software also allowed us to view the environmental impact of the product has on the environment. We are one of the only MBA programs that gives students an opportunity to work with such cutting edge software for Life Cycle Assessments.

Teams will be completing a Life Cycle Assessment using the GaBi software for two products for Dr. Sroufe’s course. Each team gets to chose a product and conduct the LCA. My team chose to look at aluminum and glass beer bottles. Other teams will be comparing include glass and aluminum beer bottles, plastic and wire hangers, and saran wrap and aluminum foil.

We will share our results when the analyses are complete.  ​


Our team advanced to the next round of the Net Impact “Up to Us” Competition!  They will design and run a campus campaign to raise awareness about the national debt during the first quarter of 2015. The competition is partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative University and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


The team of students (from left to right) Daniel Kriger, Peter Arnoldt, Jamie Valeriano, Jacob Bethem, and Nayan Joyappa.

Introducing the 2014-2015 sMBA Cohort!

On August 18, the new MBA Sustainability cohort gathered for the first time to begin our weeklong orientation. We hit the ground running with a case competition, professional presentations, simulations and networking.

To start the week off, we did a team building activity. No one expected to be building with Legos in an MBA program, but that is exactly what we did. We had to design a new product and give an elevator pitch about it to the group.


Vani, Jacob, Patrick, Elise and Gina work on their toy concept during orientation

We had many executive speakers from the Pittsburgh area, including Matt Mehalik from Sustainable Pittsburgh, Bill O’Rourke from ALCOA and Anita Brattina from All Facilities Group.

On Thursday, we broke up into groups for a case competition, a first for many students with backgrounds in liberal arts, science and engineering. Everyone enjoyed getting to know their group and working through a real world problem.


Clare and Derek work on the case competition.


Students used the new team rooms where the tables also serve as a writing surface



Nayan, Phil and Gina discuss their team strategy for the case competition.


Vani discusses the team’s strategy while Ronna makes notes for their team presentation.


Caitlin, Liis and Catherine discuss their group presentation during the case competition.

After the case competition, we went outside to enjoy a barbecue and do a resource allocation simulation with Dr. Sroufe.


Derek and Patrick discuss strategy for the resource allocation simulation.


Caitlin, Zach and Catherine discuss their team’s strategy during the simulation.


We wrapped up an exciting week with an alumni panel featuring Dana McTighe, Alison Etheridge, Laura Troup, Ryan Baptiste, Steve Opar, Rudy Molero, and Nick Monzo. They shared their favorite MBA memories and talked about their preparation for roles in project management, purchasing, supply chain, finance, engineering and brand management with PNC, Heinz, BNY Mellon, FedEx, a healthcare provider and a social entrepreneur.

The various perspectives that each student brought made for interesting discussion throughout the week. There is a lot to learn in a short period, and everyone is excited to begin this exciting journey!

What a Difference a Year Makes!

The MBA Sustainability class of 2014 has officially matriculated.  Everyone at Duquesne University is excited to see the impact that this cohort leaves through their respective careers.  The video below shares highlights from the year-long program.  What a difference a year makes!

Duquesne Places Third in the Green Workplace Challenge

By: Matt Lepri

GWC photoOver the past nine months, I had the great opportunity to oversee Duquesne University’s MBA Sustainability program’s involvement in this years Green Workplace Challenge (GWC). The Pittsburgh GWC is a year-long competition for organizations, such as Duquesne, to save money and gain recognition through the implementation of green initiatives.

As part of my fellowship duties for the MBA Sustainability program, I tracked, measured, and implemented sustainability initiatives over a wide range of categories which include: energy, water, waste, transportation, policy, and engagement.​ In the University division, Duquesne placed in 3rd place and earned a total of 107 green action points. The competition-wide sustainable initiatives reaped incredible savings, as participants in total saved 37,300,000 kWh of energy, valued at over $3 million, 5,421,000 gallons of water, and 4821 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions​.

What we learned from Costa Rica and Guatemala…

Each year, our cohort embarks on two study abroad trips.  In February, we traveled to Germany.  In May, we traveled to Costa Rica and Guatemala.  The learning from the trips are evident in this video.