sMBA Consulting Project 1

Starting this October, the newest Sustainability MBA (sMBA) program cohort began their first hands-on consulting project. This year the sMBA program has partnered with Cisco Systems Inc. under the guidance of Duquesne alumnus Ken Trombetta, Vice President Cisco’s Global Partner Organization. The cohort started the project with a design systems simulation with Dr. Ciletti and another faculty member to hone our analytical skills, before going to meet with Ken and other Cisco executives. The week following the design system simulation the cohort attended a meeting brief at Cisco System offices in the North Shore of Pittsburgh where the cohort learned the details of the consulting project.
The consulting project entails performing an analysis of several different companies that Cisco pre-picked for the cohort, and we were to perform a SWOT analysis on each company to order the attractiveness of each company in terms of a possible partnership. On November 11, 2016 the cohort had their first check in with Ken, where he seemed impressed with our analysis and ranking of the different companies they had chosen. The cohort is now tasked with providing a more in depth analysis of the top four companies that came out of the cohort’s initial rankings of the pre-picked companies. After the in-depth analysis of the top four companies, the cohort will then present to Ken and other Cisco executives on the findings produced by the analysis. The hopes are then for Cisco to use our recommendations in the future as they seek to form new partnerships.
This project is critical to the success of the cohort as we develop our analysis and critical thinking skills as it pertains to consulting and the possible tasks consultants in the workplace may be asked to perform. This hands on experience, as well as the other two consulting projects during the program, are what makes the sMBA program stand out from other sustainability focused MBA programs, as it better prepares our cohort to be more productive and comfortable as soon as we enter the workforce following graduation.

Student Spotlight: Victoria (Vicky) Hume

Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Victoria attended John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio for her undergraduate studies where she majored in Economics as well as double minoring in both French and English. A native French speaker being from Montreal, Victoria is trilingual-being fluent in English, Spanish, as well as French. These language skills proved useful to her as she was a French and Spanish tutor while at John Carroll University.Vicky Blog Pic.JPG

Before Duquesne University and the MBA Sustainability Program she worked as the Social Media Manager for a Pittsburgh area swimming school. However, she always knew she wanted to get her MBA. When asked why this program, she said, “I’ve always had an interest in sustainability and I wanted to participate in something that incorporated sustainability and would be useful to my future.” After graduation in August 2017, Victoria hopes to find a job at a company or economic research firm that will allow her to have a positive impact on her community, such as becoming a Sustainability Manager at a Pittsburgh area firm. In her spare time Victoria enjoys to paint and take part in Duquesne University’s Net Impact club. In addition, Victoria enjoys living in Pittsburgh very much. She said her favorite thing about Pittsburgh is her ability to walk out of her Shadyside house and find something new and exciting everyday within walking distance.

A Jump in the Rankings!


              As new rankings for academic programs and institutions have come out for 2016, Duquesne University has seen its stock rise across the board. In particular, for this blog, we have seen the MBA Sustainability (sMBA) program here at the Palumbo Donahue School of Business rise in the Corporate Knights “Better World MBA” ranking from #10 worldwide in 2015 to #3 worldwide in 2016. In the United States, we are now ranked #2 in the country for programs with a sustainability curriculum, ahead of Ivy League schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Yale. This is a feat to be extremely proud of at Duquesne University, the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business, and within the sMBA program. As we enter the 10th year of the sMBA program at Duquesne, it goes to show that we will continue to be an innovator and trailblazer when it comes to sustainability research, and the education and production of new business leaders for the 21st century.

Some of you may be wondering what Corporate Knights is and how they ranked the sMBA program for their annual rankings. Corporate Knights is a media, research, and financial information company based out of Toronto, Canada. Founded in 2002, they focus on promoting an economic system where prices fully incorporate the Triple Bottom Line: Social, Economic, and Ecological costs. To come up with their “Better World MBA” ranking results, they look at several aspects of an eligible program and each aspect is weighted to come up with the final ranking. The aspects evaluated are Curriculum, Institutes and Centers, and Faculty Research. Curriculum looks at courses that are fully dedicated to sustainability, and based off of the sMBA curriculum we scored a 100%. Institutes and Centers that are affiliated with the sMBA program were evaluated, and Duquesne also scored a 100%. Lastly for Faculty Research, all relavant peer reviewed articles from the School of Business were examined and scored, and once again Duquesne scored a 100%! Learn more about the methodology and check out the 2016 rankings.

Image result for corporate knights logo

Copyright 2016

A New Year, A New MBA Sustainability Cohort

It has been eight weeks since the 14 of us in the new MBA Sustainability (sMBA) cohort started the program, and it seems we are all taking advantage of the opportunities that the program has to offer. Whether it be participating in Net Impact, volunteering with fellow classmates at Global Links, or taking on Graduate Assistant and Research Fellowships with our program instructors, everyone is fully immersed in the sMBA experience. With students from Pittsburgh to Oman, to some fresh from undergrad and others with 10+ years if work experience, our cohort is made up of students from a broad range of experiences and backgrounds.   The first eight weeks have offered nothing short of a full workload, with assignments coming faster and faster and our first consulting project with Cisco approaching. Yet with such a rigorous program, we have still found it both fun and fulfilling. We have already had the opportunity to hone our case study analysis and presentation skills with Dr. Sroufe, as we have been learning of the different sustainability strategies and models. We are also learning how to look at the world in a different way through our time in Systems Thinking with Dr. Sivasubramaniam and Applied Business Ethics with Dr. Wasieleski.

As our cohort goes through the rest of the program I will be keeping the followers of the blog updated on our progress through our various projects and the other activities we do, such as our trip to Denmark and Estonia in May. Until our consulting project begins to pick up I will be doing a student spotlight on one or two of the new and returning students to the program so that you can get a better idea about why each of us chose this program and what we hope to accomplish with the sMBA.

Only a few weeks left…

It has been months since we took this picture at My Two Cents day, but it feels like it was just yesterday. It is sad to say that our time in the MBA Sustainability program is almost over. However, there are still multiple things we have to look forward to! Currently, the final presentations in the Leading Change Practicum course are underway. The teams and their clients have reported great success all around, from helping to establish go-to-market strategies to aiding in the development of a community-based software program to help our citizens. Our cohort has displayed great perseverance and ability to add value, and I am honored to have had the privilege of getting to learn and grow with these amazing people. With the last few weeks underway, we all continue to work hard and look forward to what the future has in store for each one of us.

Leading Change Practicum Project Announcement

The summer semester is underway and we are excited to have the opportunity to work with four innovative companies for our Leading Change Practicum.

All four of this semester’s projects are confidential in nature, and each has it’s own very unique set of challenges. First, one team is partnering with an accelerator to help launch a social enterprise. Next, one of our consulting teams is providing aid in launching a new technology. Furthermore, another team is providing insight on how to improve customer satisfaction and market reach for a local customer. Finally, one team is heading up a project involving waste to energy. Overall, each of these endeavors is on the cutting edge of their respected fields, and each project will ultimately create a significant impact in their markets.

The Alumni Blog Series: My MBA Toolkit

As Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability program nears its 10th anniversary, its Alumni Council wanted to find a way to document their experiences since their time on The Bluff. The Alumni Blog Series  gives a chance for MBA Sustainability graduates to  provide their expertise, speak about sustainability, or simply reflect on their own experiences.

In the inaugural TABS post, class of 2012 graduate Michael Holovak reflects on how MBA Sustainability provided growth of his own professional and personal “MBA Toolkit.”


aaeaaqaaaaaaaadnaaaajdk3mtu5mddkltm5zgytndfhzi1hzdiylte3m2fizwu5mjzkoqDuring my time at Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability, I would often hear a prominent faculty member stress adding key lessons to one’s “MBA Toolkit” — that is, the frameworks and processes you utilize during key project milestones to set you up for consistent success. When I recently set upon a new opportunity as a project manager in a different industry, I had a small window to reflect on how my professional career had evolved my MBA toolkit – and myself along with it.

In addition to tools learned during coursework (some in use daily and others mothballed in my “MBA storage shed”), I wanted to share how my time at Duquesne afforded growth on my own personal toolkit — the more qualitative attitudes and attributes I rely on on a day-to-day basis that are, to me, as important as a lesson in any textbook.


In my experience, the road to a smooth, successful project is paved by confidence in one’s process from the start, as that confidence is then spread to team members and clients. The foundation of my process stems from strategic planning concepts used during MBA consulting engagements, bolstered by learned quantitative skills. Even directly after graduation, my learning experiences instilled confidence from the start, which propelled me to where I am now.


Establishing communication lines and keeping all parties appropriately informed is the essence of project management, and MBA Sustainability provided me that keystone to build upon my own communication skills. We were given the opportunity to develop them daily, through reports, emails, and presentations. Personally, my public speaking went from a weakness to a strength during my time at Duquesne, as I learned to focus on controlling the room, my pace, my eye contact, and my speech. I now make presentations that follow the same framework to great effect.


Adaptability has been a key part of my success as a project manager. There were times when a project’s goal or solution, or the path to it, changed so drastically that I simply had to adjust tactics. Though coursework was admittedly very structured, the variety of subjects encountered at MBA Sustainability provided me an ability to see when to pivot on a project, when to make a change, and, importantly, how to manage that change effectively across parties.


Finally, an ability to persevere and make decisions under duress is something that has been crucial to my career successes. Encountering new challenges in the workplace can be daunting, but my time at Duquesne developed an ability to persevere and excel in difficult situations. I have made mistakes and will undoubtedly make more in the future, but an ability to process and grow from them kept me moving on the path I want to be.

Looking back on my experiences from then to now, I can say my learning has never truly stopped and is constantly evolving. Similarly, in talking with alumni, I’ve found their methods and skills vary, change, and grow. However, one consistent theme remained — for many, Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability program was a valuable experience to build their own personal toolkit for success in both work and in life.