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.

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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.

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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,

Visiting the Port of Tallinn by Natalie Hanna

At the Port of Tallinn, the biggest port on the shores of the Baltic Sea, we had the opportunity to hear about some of the sustainability practices that the Port has implemented to reduce the its carbon footprint. Port of Tallinn operates as a landlord type of port with no cargo handling operations of its own. It maintains and develops the infrastructure of the port and leases territories to terminal operators.

Before our arrival, a team of students was tasked with researching and understanding the measurement and reduction of carbon footprints among other large Scandinavian ports, including the Ports of Rotterdam, Oslo, Gothenburg and Stockholm. The team presented its findings as we had an open discussion about the Port of Tallinn’s strategic outlook as it works to reduce Scope 3 emissions. This means influencing both its customers and the community in which it is located to move towards more sustainable practices in terms of areas such as cargo, real estate development, shipping and cruise ship travel.

Consulting Projects and Client Visits

One of the features that sets the MBA Sustainable Business Practices apart from other programs is consulting projects. We have the opportunity to take the lead in every aspect of project development with our respective client, which enables us to develop unique and informed solutions across different business functions. Our consulting teams have been busy the past two weeks preparing and conducting mid-point client reviews and receiving feedback on research that has been conducted up to this point.

Last Friday, my SYKES Enterprises consulting team members and I left Pittsburgh at 5am and headed east to visit one of the client’s operations facilities in Allentown, Pennsylvania (SYKES conducts business process outsourcing. The facility we visited handled customer service calls for Medicare recipients in California and Oregon). During the visit, we met with the site director, toured the operations floor, conversed with mid-level management teams, and gathered a strong understanding of the daily business operations at the call center.

The Allentown site visit was a key component of our research for the larger ongoing research being conducted by my SYKES consulting team. The ability to see firsthand operations and speak with company leadership allowed our team to better understand the SYKES company dynamics and goals, with the intention of creating a well-developed consulting recommendation by the end of this semester.

A Break From Our Regular Schedule

Last week several of our cohort members took a break from classes to attend the National Black MBA Association (NBMAA) Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to the NBMBAA conferences’ website, “The 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition presented by NBMBAA® & Prospanica® featured an array of programming designed to help attendees expand their leadership capabilities while learning valuable information to increase marketability in a highly-competitive landscape. Entrepreneurs, students and seasoned professionals were enriched by exclusive networking opportunities and invaluable industry knowledge.” Our cohort attendees mingled and networked with a wide array of business professionals from across the country, while representing Duquesne University and the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program.

Attendance at professional conferences are a part of the ongoing Career Practicum course requirements, and some of the costs of attending are covered by Duquesne, making the experience very accessible. The intention is to give us the opportunity to meet business leader’s employers, and fellow students, network, and learn about cutting-edge trends in the business world. The National Black MBA Association Conference was just one of many conferences that our cohort team members will attend in the upcoming months; several members will attend conferences in places such as Atlanta, Boston, and Orlando.

Despite all the fun at conferences, it is hard to believe that the mid way point of the semester is upon us. As we get ready to finish one class, two more are about to begin in less than two weeks, leaving no doubt that the rest of the semester will remain busy. black mba attendees

The Art of Presenting

The theme of last week and early this week has been presentations, presentations, and more presentations. One of the most critical skills for a business leader to master is the ability to take an overwhelming amount of information, decipher, and present it to peers and supervisors in a concise and understandable way. The past week has been full of this for our cohort.

The better part of last week was spent preparing for group presentations that are taking place early this week. On Monday in Dr. Sroufe’s Strategic Sustainability and Models class, members of our cohort presented on the challenges and benefits of integrated reporting, as well as the practical application of natural capitalism. Both topics helped members of our cohort understand the various tools that can be used to when faced with a sustainable business dilemma.

On Tuesday in Dr. Spangler’s Information Systems class, small groups will present on topics such as 3D printing, notorious security breaches, and safe computing practices. These topics are some of the major areas of concern and interest in relation to information technology in the workplace today and must be understood by future and current business leaders.

It is hard to imagine that after preparing for presentations our cohort would have time to focus on any other tasks. But as the temperatures have risen since last week here in Pittsburgh, so have the tasks that need to be completed during this, busy semester. Our cohort has also been challenged by completing financial analysis tables, engaging in lively round table discussions on supply and demand in economics, and continuing to meet with project partners and develop a business strategy.

But as September comes to a rapid end, the good news is Thanksgiving break is roughly only two months away.