Patricia Nicholson

As we continue with our final semester; we will spotlight Patricia Nicholson

Patricia Nicholson, I am from Pittsburgh, PA and earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Robert Morris University in 1997. I have 20 years of work experience across marketing, product management, project management and personnel management, most recently working at BNY Mellon as Director, Head of Global Distribution Support. I wanted to attend Duquesne’s MBA Sustainable Business Practices program because it is ranked #1 in the United States, is a 1-year full-time program and would provide the foundation for entry into sustainability within any industry. I hope to use my previous work experience and current education to implement positive changes within an organization to make an environmental, social and/or economic impact.

What is one of your favorite things to do in Pittsburgh? One of my favorite things to do in Pittsburgh is attending all the home Pittsburgh Steelers games.

What has been one of your favorite moments in the program so far? My favorite moment in the program so far was the opportunity to attend the Net Impact Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for? If shoe shopping was an Olympic sport, I would take the gold!

What skill would you like to master? I would love to master the art of cooking and be a culinary chef.

What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation? I would be able to give a 30-minute presentation on the game and strategies of tennis.

patricia pic


Beginning of a New Year and new semester

After a nice and long Winter break, the beginning of the Spring semester is upon us during these cold and snowy January days. Now that we are in the second week of classes, it is evident that we as a group have gotten back into the rhythm of classes, client meetings, assignments, and group projects. The final semester of our academic journey in the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program will be complete in less than four months. But, our adventures will continue in classes such as Strategic Innovation Management, Marketing, Consulting Project III, Leading Change in Sustainability, and Global Business, which will include a class trip to Peru (and a reprieve from this cold Pittsburgh weather) at the end of next month.

In addition to classes and trips, we have been busy applying to jobs and interviewing with potential employers. Some of us are still unsure of what lays ahead in our professional plans, while others are taking the first strides to embark on professional endeavors in fields such as, sales, finance, green building, and operations. The reality of entering (or reentering) the workplace is soon upon us and so is the excitement of seeking new challenges and applying the skills and principles that we have learned during the program

Student Profile: Tyler Chaffo

Over the last six months, we as a cohort, have gotten to know each other well. We have compiled what seems like hundreds of hours together during classroom discussions, group projects, and field trips. One of our cohort members is Tyler Chaffo, who has provided a quick bio and answered a few questions to help you get to know a bit about him.

Tyler profile

I am originally from Murrysville, Pa about 17 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh. I went to Penn State University and studied Supply Chain & Information Systems with a minor in Economics. I was drawn to the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program for a myriad of reasons, but foremost was my personal interest and desire to merge sustainability into my career. I chose Duquesne after looking into many schools because I felt it would give me the best jumpstart into my new career. My plan initially, and still to this point, was to go into renewable energy (specifically solar) after graduation. I’m still very fluid with my initial career plans, but I w do ow that renewable energy is a field that I want to be in long-term. No matter what I do career-wise, one thing that this program has confirmed, is that I want to incorporate an integrated bottom line as the central focus for the rest of my career.


1. What is your favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh? Go to a Penguins game.

2. Where is the most interesting place that you have been? Hands down, the most interesting place I’ve been is South Africa. The natural beauty there is unparalleled. As an animal lover; being up close to Great White Sharks and going on a Safari was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (although I certainly plan to go back).

3. What is the best way to start a day? Exercise.

4. Where would you spend all of your time if you could? I’d like to be outside. Depending on my location and the season, I’d like to be up in the mountains skiing or at the beach on the water.

5. Who inspires you to be better? My Wife.

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo 2017 in Boston

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.

The Net Impact National Conference 2017

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.

net impact pic

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!

Top Rankings from Corporate Knights

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,

In a Room Full of Greatness by Candace Carter

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)


City of Copenhagen Workshop with LeapCraft and Henning Larsen by Velika Talyarkhan

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.

Copenhagen Business School Visit by Grant Smith

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.

Dong Energy visit in Copenhagen by Rebecca Gormley

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.IMG_0911.JPG