Last week I traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the 2017Greenbuild International Conference and Expo . The expo lasted three days and spotlighted hundreds of vendors that were associated with all aspects of building construction. This included construction methods, building products, and environmental conservation efforts related to the construction industry. The size of companies ranged from one- or two-person efforts to implement smart tree harvesting practices for lumber production, all the way to larger corporations such as The Home Depot.
During my experience, I listened to several interesting speakers that discussed topics including green building internships geared toward college students, implementing smart buildings in public housing, and the benefits of Green Leasing . The last speaker was of interest to me, as my current consulting project is focused on Green Leasing. Green Leasing is an implementation in the leased commercial building sector, which allows for Green building and Green retrofitting.
It was a wonderful and memorable experience. I met individuals from all over the country and the world who are directly involved with innovation and application in the Green Building sector. It was also interesting that many attendees with whom I spoke with had heard of the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program at Duquesne.
Additionally, the location of the conference was an excellent experience unto itself. The history buff in me could visit the Boston Tea Party Museum, Boston Commons, and view the statues along the Boston Mall . I would highly recommend this conference to any student who is interested in a career in Green Building or Green Manufacturing, or simply is interested in what the future of building construction will look like.
One of the organizations that our cohort members, are active in is Net Impact, an organization for students and professionals, who are interested in utilizing their business skills in support of various social and environmental endeavors.
Last week members from our Net Impact chapter traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the 2017 Net Impact National Conference. One of the attendees was Patricia Nicholson, who gave a recap of the conference and what she took away from it.
What is the Net Impact National Conference?
Patricia: The Net Impact National Conference focuses on making a positive impact on the world through social and environmental causes. This year’s conference was entitled “Path to Purpose” and was aimed at graduate and undergraduate students to help accelerate impactful careers. There were engaging workshops, inspirational keynote speakers, compelling panel discussions, several employer booths at the expo and, most importantly, an abundance of networking opportunities throughout the entire conference.
What were some of your key takeaways from the conference?
Patricia: My biggest takeaway from the conference was a way to discover what truly inspires me so that I can turn what I am passionate about into a meaningful and impactful career of purpose. The conference really exemplified that people who put their mind, heart, action and energy towards something important can really make a powerful difference for the future.
The Net Impact National Conference is only one of many conferences that we are attending this semester. Next week I will be recapping the 2017 Green Build Expo from Boston!
Our program received some outstanding news last week. On October 16, Corporate Knights, “one of the world’s largest circulation (125K+) magazines focused on the intersection of business and society.” named the Duquesne MBA Sustainable Business Practices program as the number one ranked better world MBA program in the United States and the fifth ranked program in the world. Our program beat out other notable programs from institutions such as the London Business School, Wharton (the University of Pennsylvania), and Harvard Business School. The 2017 rankings are a continuation of the 2016 rankings, in which our program was ranked second in the United States, and 2015, when we were ranked fourth in the US and tenth in the world.
The basis of these rankings is determined by three weighted criteria: curriculum (30 percent), institutions and centers (20 percent), and faculty research 20 percent). Our program also differentiates itself by offering real-life consulting projects and an annual international study a trip focused on integrating sustainability into global business practices.
Coincidentally, our cohort has also been in the final stages planning for our own international study trip. On Monday, Dr. Karen Donovan held a meeting to discuss the itinerary for our trip to Peru, which will take place during the spring semester over the University’s Spring Break.
All of this excitement, combined with the half way point of the fall semester, has been a major motivator during the grind of a busy semester.
2017 Better World MBA Top Ten
1. University of Exeter Business School (UK)
2. York University-Schulich School of Business (Canada)
3. Warwick Business School (U)
4. Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
5. Duquesne University-Palumbo Donahue School of Business (U.S)
6. TIAS School for Business and Society (Netherlands)
7. MIT Sloan School of Management (U.S)
8. University of Vermont-Grossman School of Business (U.S)
9. McGill University-Desautels Faculty of Management (Canada)
10. Georgia Institute of Technology-Scheller College of Business (U.S)
1.) “About Us.” Corporate Knights, http://www.corporateknights.com/us/about-us/.
I recently experienced my first National Black MBA Association conference in Philadelphia, PA as an MBA Sustainable Business Practices candidate graduating in May 2018. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I mentally prepared myself for the career exposition, making sure I was ready to take advantage of the over 300 companies and organizations looking to hire MBA graduates. What I didn’t think to prepare for was the atmosphere, devotion, and encouragement from everyone at the conference. I arrived early Wednesday morning and was received with warm greetings that continued throughout the conference. I felt like I was meeting a family I didn’t know existed, a family who was rooting for my success and wanted to provide me with the essential tools for both career and personal growth. The breakout sessions I attended were exceptionally impactful, and I left with skills I could immediately incorporate into my coursework and could carry over to my future career.
Although most of my preparation for the conference went toward the career exposition, I still wasn’t prepared for the greatness that filled the room – men and women of color ready to take on the world-while dressed to impress. The confidence, determination, and poise coming from all corners of the room was very powerful. I was so proud to be a part of this community and wanted nothing but success for all involved. We were in a position where we could expose our excellence to future employers and make connections that might not have otherwise been possible.
Outside of the breakout sessions, speakers, and the career exposition, I had a chance to unwind each night and connect with some first-timers, like myself, and others who were repeat attendees. I was exposed to a network of doers who thrived on building up our community. I left the conference on Friday fearless and eager to continue to strive for excellence. After such an impactful event, the National Black MBA Association conference has a new lifetime attendee.
I had a chance to attend the following breakout sessions:
- Presenting Data Effectively
- Marcie Braden (moderator)
- Stephanie Evergreen ( speaker)
- Leading with Purpose
- Damon A. Williams ( speaker )
- The CEOs Luncheon
- Kristin B. Gyimah (remarks)
- Verdun Perry (remarks)
- Catherine LeBlanc (presenter)
- Mel Parker (presenter)
- Arne Sorenson (Panelists)
- Lisa Wardell (Panelists)
- Bill Lacey (Panelists)
- Mastering the Career Pivot
- Annette Harris (moderator)
- Gerald Chertavian (Panelist)- CEO and founder of YearUp
- Lorenzo Claridy (Panelist)
- Conrod Kelly (Panelist)
- Matthew Levy (Panelist)
Representatives from the City of Copenhagen hosted us for an inspiring half-day workshop to explore solutions for building and city-wide sustainability. Copenhagen is a leader in creating a sustainable, livable city where citizens can feel engaged in municipal decisions. The city is well on its way to becoming a carbon neutral city by its intended 2025 goal. It has successfully implemented a dense cycling network to reduce congestion and worked closely with the port to clean the harbor water to such a degree that you can now swim there. The City of Copenhagen also engaged with the private sector for workable solutions by creating a transparent partnership selection process. Denmark is also known for its work-life balance, where employees are encouraged to take vacation days and flexible work hours to stay healthy and stress-free. Maternity and paternity leave are deemed very important and have helped in reducing female turnover, especially for women in top positions.
During the workshop, we also met with representatives from LeapCraft, a small and innovative startup who have developed a unique data driven air quality monitoring product used in Copenhagen’s city air monitoring projects and are considering US expansion. We discussed some potential applications for the product within the US market. Some of our suggestions included using the monitors for clean rooms, for improving fire-alarm monitoring and for home patient or child care. The final presentation at the workshop came from Henning Larsen Architecture firm, who presented their work on creating climate-resilient city blocks, which reduce flooding risks and improve quality of life within Copenhagen’s city center.
At the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) we were presented with an exciting opportunity to explore the intersection of technology and sustainability. CBS facilitated a workshop led by Kristjan Jespersen, one of their graduating PhD students. Mr. Jespersen lectured our class and made a case for the inherent nature of sustainability in our everyday lives and the idea that combining the Internet of Things (IoT) and sustainable concepts could create Smart Cities. He went on to explain that one of the main barriers to the advancement was interconnectivity of data in the private and public domains. A solution proposed was to decentralize data storage by utilizing Blockchain and distributive ledger technology. This was a welcome topic as our cohort was excited to explore the Blockchain environment more thoroughly after our trip to the E-Government center of Estonia the previous week. Deanna Adell, Co-Founder of Un-Bloc, explained that by creating validated, anonymous data sets, all stakeholders could share data and integrate it into any Application Program Interface (API).
After some further discussion, we were asked to take the structure and apply it to a community being built in Copenhagen centered on an exchange economy utilizing virtual currency. We split up into 4 groups intermixed with CBS masters level students and our cohort. As we brainstormed we identified the main challenge was how to create a net zero or net positive energy community while keeping the Utility companies involved. One strategy centered around repositioning the Utility companies as the miners and validators of the virtual currency and marketplace validators. This would allow the economy to set its own price (in virtual coin) for what the generation of electricity or reuse/reclamation of water was worth and so on. A practical example would be a tenant exchanging coins from energy produced by solar panels for vegetables grown by someone else utilizing vertical farming techniques in the building. This community could then act as a proof of concept and link together with other Smart Communities to share data and create the core for a larger Smart City.
After each group presented our findings, we talked more about what Copenhagen was doing to link its systems to a Smart City grid and studied the Living Lab initiative where they were monitoring air quality and noise. Finally, we had a brief reception where we talked further about sustainability and its role in Denmark, Europe and the world. For all involved, it was an amazing day of collaboration, idea generation and cultural exchange.
When first arriving at the Dong Headquarters, walking through the modern 21st century design of the all glass building was an adventure in itself. The morning was spent listening to the presenters discuss why Dong Energy is a leader in offshore wind, bioenergy, and energy solutions and what some of their current projects were. Although Dong Energy operates primarily in Northwestern Europe, the presenters discussed the company’s expansion into Asia as well as the United States where the company will continue to invest in offshore wind farms in order to provide more areas with green energy. The company stresses the importance of sustainability in all aspects of its company which was shown to us by a brief look into their sustainability goals and sustainability report as well as how some of that reporting is done and measured.
While visiting Rockwool, a leader in stone wool insulation designed to focus on energy efficiency, sound absorption, fire resilience, and durability, the Head of Stakeholder Engagement demonstrated the effectiveness of the stone wool. This was fist done by showing our group a small, noisy room that was unable to be heard due to the high-quality insulation, and another example was a fire being lit under a block of stone wool with no negative reaction occurring once the fire hit the block. After the demonstrations, our group had the opportunity to speak with the Rockwool presenters about their sustainability efforts, including a preview of Rockwool’s 2016 sustainability report that was being released the morning of our visit. We then were able to discuss the company’s contribution toward achieving 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which sparked a good conversation with the group about Rockwool working toward achieving all 17 goals since some of their efforts within the other 10 overlap with other SDGs that they are not discussing within the sustainably report.
In between our business meetings, we spent a day visiting two of Copenhagen’s cultural highlights; the Little Mermaid statue and Christianborg palace. Little Mermaid statue, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions. We spent a cloudy morning wandering around the statue, which was buzzing with tourists and visited by a resident heron. While she previously looked out to the sea, Copenhagen’s development means the Little Mermaid now watches over Dong Energy’s offshore windmills.
In the afternoon, donning comical plastic shoe covers, we toured the grandeur of Christiansborg palace, the home of the Danish Royal Family. The rooms were furnished with elegant wooden furniture, elaborate flocked wallpaper and vivid marble insets. Our guide regaled us with snippets of knowledge, such as the fact that the immense chandeliers in the dining hall were purchased very cheaply second hand from another European monarch, who later wanted to have them back upon visiting Christiansborg on a state visit! One of Denmark’s large industrial families gifted the Queen with a set of large-scale tapestries which depict various scenes, including modern historical events. The works were fascinating, with their neon colors, modern style and intricate details. When the tapestries room was renovated with a painted trompe-l’oeil marble effect, the painter incorporated the queen’s profile into the marble pattern!
As we landed in the city of Copenhagen, it was clear that the city has integrated a green economy and a sustainable lifestyle in a way that is not commonly seen in the United States. Wind turbines lined the horizon and bicycles filled the streets. In Copenhagen, an estimated 50% of the city’s 570,000 people use bikes to get from one point to the other. Biking is not only the preferred mode of transportation but also an easy, environmentally-friendly and safe way to get around. Biker safety is prioritized with things like bike-only stop lights that alert cyclists when to stop or go and bike lanes, many of which are roughly the same size as traditional car lanes and are curbed to separate the bikers from cars. On our last full day in the city, we were fortunate to be able to experience the city by bike. On our tour, we rode single file along the water, on the cobbled streets and through the bustling streets among other tourists and native commuters. Ultimately, we were able to experience how the city’s infrastructure and culture has allowed pedestrians, drivers and cyclists to co-exist in harmony.