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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This new focus recognizes that a multi-national corporation understands the impact that their business has on the world through, not just economic, but also social and environmental. One change Ikea is making includes developing products, such as tabletop hydroponic gardens, that promote sustainable lifestyles. Ikea is creating a new direction for the company to ensure they are being the positive change they want to see in the world.
Students who attended our Net Impact Earth Day described it as “an open and creative event” that made it easy for them to “learn from their peers about the importance of sustainability.”
On Earth Day we hosted a creative take on a trivia game to prompt peer-to-peer discussions about the daily impact that any individual can make on the planet. Our format offers a good way to bring people from diverse backgrounds into the conversation about protecting and preserving our planet. The better informed student body takes us one step closer to making the positive change we want to see in the world!
For one of our consulting projects, one of our teams tackled the blight of eyesores in Pittsburgh. In cooperation with Phipps Conservatory, this team identified potential locations for urban green space that are currently underutilized. This city has a great opportunity to improve its health, economic, and attractiveness by incorporating more green space into it’s city limits. With multiple areas of Pittsburgh undertaking great strides in their development, this is the perfect time for this project. The members of this team “utilized design thinking” to complete their project plans, while also “beginning to understand the complex environment in which a community project of this size lives,” and “how to overcome the barriers” associated with this type of project. The team wants to send a special thanks to Phipps Conservatory for this fantastic opportunity.
Without giving away too much information, one of our MBA Sustainability consulting teams was working with Eat’ N Park Hospitality Group as they expand their restaurant empire and onsite catering business. This team worked on the cutting edge of sustainability initiatives within the restaurant industry and had an amazing time doing it.
One of our MBA Sustainability consulting teams just completed working with the Green Building Alliance to research and develop better financing options for “Green and Commercial Renovations.” They explored successful and emerging trends in sustainable renovations for older buildings, and how to keep the “first cost” down when these renovations occur. This team has described their experience as “challenging but rewarding,” and enjoyed the opportunity to work with the GBA.
Recently, our MBA Sustainability cohort participated in a community redesign forum inthe Uptown district of Pittsburgh, which is where Duquesne’s campus resides. This area is undergoing a sustainable development revival, and this renewal has been proclaimed as the EcoInnovation District. The event was a meeting of different stakeholders in the area to discuss the progress of the project and add new ideas.
Students who attended the event said, “It is encouraging to see people that care so much about helping out a part of our city that has a great history,” and that it was “eye-opening” and “refreshing.” Others were pleased to to see the project team “recognize that the people are the core of the community and their opinions really matter,” and that is what this project is all about.
The ideas for what the district will become are coming from the local residents, and those who come to the area for work or business. This allows for stakeholders who know what is best for this area to come forth and express the exact changes that this part of the city needs. Everyone at Duquesne’s sMBA program is eager to contribute to this amazing effort in sustainable development.