Conquering Fears in Costa Rica

By Katherine Summers


For 23 years I have been afraid of heights. When we were in La Fortuna we were given the opportunity to either go on a canopy walk or go ziplining. I decided that if I was going to face my fears I should go all out.

As we were strapped into our gear I was having second thoughts but told myself I would probably only be in the Costa Rican rainforest once so I had to do it! It was the most amazing experience of my life! I am so proud of myself for facing my fears, and thankful to be in an MBA program that allows these opportunities!


A Class with the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse

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Yesterday, Erika Johnson, executive director of the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, visited our Organizational Behavior to shed light on group dynamics.  Erika brought a variety of different items from yarn to building blocks, and allowed each of us to select one item to “play” with for a few minutes.  I don’t think many of us find the time to sit down and simply play.  Without speaking we followed a variety of directions.  In the end, each student consulting team took the items in their group to create something.  Some teams created art work, while others created games.  The exercise allowed us to get outside our usual element to see our group dynamics, as well as individual strengths and weaknesses, while having a lot of fun!  Creative Reuse will be back in class for our final wrap up for the semester, and we are excited for what the next visit will bring!



Why MBA Sustainability, and not a traditional MBA?

Personally, when I began to shop around for an MBA program I knew I wanted an MBA to advance my career, but sustainability was not even in my search box. After much needed research into the topic I realized that sustainability was a lot more than just the “green movement”.

Then I wondered – how could I be so naive? Sustainability has to do with all parts of business from reporting financials to strategic planning.

A widely accepted definition of sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”.   In Dr. Sroufe’s Sustainable Theories and Models class we used this definition to as a jumping off point to create our own definition of sustainability.

My classmate Peter shared his interpretation of sustainability in a simple, but an easy to understand manner.  He compared sustainability to the Boy Scouts’ mantra to “leave the campground cleaner than when we found it”.  Often it is hard to find the words to describe our program to family and friends, but Peter’s point makes it easy for all to relate to the concept of sustainability in business.

Now that I understand sustainability – how I could have ever not wanted an MBA with a sustainability focus?  Our unique program allows us to leave the world a better place through sustainable business practices, which is more than most MBA programs can say.

BNY Mellon Class Interaction

Guest Blogger: Matthew Petronko

Dr. Nist’s special topics class was extra special today. We hosted two practitioners from the finance field from BNY Mellon, John T. Buckley, Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Lauren Lambert, Corporate Social Responsibility Program Administrator, a star employee and alumnus of our sustainability program. They brought with them a quandary, how to rectify Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards with their own CSR reporting?

Dr. Nist prepared the class with readings and dedicated time to work out our ideas beforehand, so the discussion was exceptionally rich. The conversation included many topics such as political activity of corporations and banks, the role of large banks to stabilize markets, society’s expectations of banks, and, of course, fiduciary duty and the shareholder, stakeholder, investor dynamic.

We were trying to understand what ought to be disclosed in an integrated report. The dangers of including too much are exposure to liability, exposing competitive intelligence, clutter, or just looking worse than the competition. The benefits of disclosure include increased appeal across all markets, but not without risk. The problem becomes even more complex because standards are not yet set.

While we may not have solved the problem, we gained deeper insight. We also gained a new appreciation of the implications of applying the practices we have learned in class. This was a great experience because of the deep interaction with the experts. It is especially valuable to have feedback from a graduate working in CSR.