“Buildings are the leading causes of green house gas emissions,” stated Michel Kratz, President of Eurmoac 2. We had the pleasure to tour this innovative company as our first business visit. Based on sustainable design principles, this organization produces building block like materials for passive house construction out of styrofoam. An exciting new idea that has been proven to fully insulate a home to lower energy costs and waste, while decreasing the time and difficulty of building a passive house. It was a great example of an innovative company that was making a positive change in the world.
“Knowing cultural differences is vital to any successful international business relationship,” stated Bertrand Agostini, professor at ICN, who led us through a workshop on cross cultural communication on our third day in Nancy. This workshop included a great background on the differences in the government, culture, and history of the United States and France. With over 66 million people, and the world’s sixth largest economy, France is a major player in Europe, and particularly the European Union. This class helped us to comprehend how the French see situations, and why they think and act in certain ways. Bertrand highlighted the importance of knowing a people’s culture to fully understand how to approach a business relationship with them. Heading into the future, each one of us will be prepared to facilitate a business relationship with most French companies and enhance the opportunities for economic gain, environmental protection, and social enhancements on a global level.
Starting this day, we began our cross-cultural learning experience with a trip to ICN Business School in Nancy, France. After a brief overview of the campus, we had a insightful lesson with a resident professor which focused on susustainbility in the luxury industry. One great takeaway from this workshop was the new research that is pointing towards a fourth pillar of sustainability. This pillar, along with the social, environmental, and economic pillars, focuses on culture. This was enlightening, but seemed to be obvious as well. The application of this idea that culture can have the underlying rooots of all other pillars, particularly in the luxury industry, and still can be overlooked was well defined. Businesses need to understand that their culture is the root of their business, and without ethical values and sustainable ideals, that culture will be the biggest barrier to sustainable change that the company will face. After that, we took an amazing walking tour around beautiful Nancy, which is rich in history and culture. We are all having an amazing time!
“Prepare for landing” was the last thing I heard before we touched down in our first stop on our European tour. Landing and being in Paris, France today was an exciting opportunity that I have never had before. Our stay in Paris was shortlived, as we headed out on a train bound for Nancy, France and ICN Business School. It’s only the first day of our trip, but the enthusiasm, expectations, and eagerness are at all time high. Even through the jetlag, we are all ready to start experiencing the culture, people, and looking forwad to finding out how the French people are making the positive change they want to see in the world.
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!
In January 2007, when Duquesne was recruiting students for our first MBA Sustainability cohort, the cover of what was then BusinessWeek magazine invited readers to “Imagine a world in which eco-friendly and socially responsible practices actually help a company’s bottom line.”
Less than a decade later, McKinsey describes sustainability as “profits with purpose” and reports that “companies pursue sustainability because it has a material financial impact.”
- Companies with high ESG ratings outperform market in the medium and long-term and have lower cost of debt and equity.
- Companies in Carbon Disclosure and Carbon Performance Leadership Indices have superior stock market returns.
- Efficient use of resources is an indicator of overall superior financial performance.
- Socially responsible investment accounted for more than 11% of assets under management in the United States ($3.74 trillion) in 2013.
As MBA students with a focus in sustainability, we are preparing to strengthen the business case for 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.
Dana McTighe’s role as Vice President for CapitalStream Change Management at PNC Bank offers insight to why our MBA Sustainability program is ranked 10th in the world for “preparing graduates to change the world” and “succeed in this shifting business environment.”
Dana joined PNC as a project manager after completing her MBA in 2012 and steadily advanced. Now she heads up large scale enterprise initiatives for daily transaction systems, working with 17 different cross-functional teams. “I am responsible for the Change Management activities associated with approximately 10,000 employees across seven lines of business,” she said.
Dana noted that “the opportunity to manage innovation through multiple client consulting projects as an MBA student was good preparation for leading change” at one of the nation’s largest banks. Prior to graduate school, Dana held a progression of roles with a small financial services firm. As an MBA student, her consulting accomplishments included quantifying Scope III Greenhouse Gases, developing a global crop risk mitigation strategy for Heinz, helping to launch a social entrepreneurship, and conducting field work in Europe and South America on study trips.
A former leader of Duquesne’s Net Impact chapter, Dana remains active as an alumnus. In 2015, she organized and co-hosted an alumni-student sustainability symposium at Duquesne. She also coaches student project and practicum teams, most recently serving as client for a student team that helped PNC’s “Green Team” engage over 50,000 employees in social and environmental priorities.
“The program produces some of the coolest people I have ever met, personally and professionally.” – Dana McTighe, Duquesne MBA Sustainability ’12