Sustainability Leadership Pays Off

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!

Source:  “Profits with purpose:  How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line,” McKinsey, 2014

Student Spotlight – Rajany Mathew

Before Duquesne: Rajany served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for 27 months in the beautiful island of Madagascar. From 2013 to 2015, she worked as an Agri-business volunteer, which involved working with a local silk-weaving cooperative to help develop their business and establish partners overseas. Furthermore, Rajany worked in the local community to help develop a Farmer Field School. This program taught yield-increasing farmer techniques in addition to healthy cooking and nutritional information while using local foods and building organic gardens.

A graduate of  Drexel University in Philadelphia, Rajany majored in Marketing and Finance in the 5-year co-op program. Her professional marketing co-ops were with Johnson & Johnson and Sunoco. She completed her last co-op volunteering at an orphanage in Thailand. She also studied abroad in Singapore which piqued her interest in traveling and working abroad.

Why Duquesne: “I came upon Duquesne’s MBA program when I was looking for MBA programs that combined my passion for business, sustainable development, and traveling. This program was the perfect fit as it combined all three and was only 1-year long. I also spoke with the director of the program before I applied and she was so enthusiastic! I felt like I would be as asset to the program and school.”

Beyond Duquesne: Rajany would like to work for a Non-profit or B-corporation. She is especially interested in corporate social responsibility and working on sustainable development.

Interesting Fact About You: “I worked with my silk weavers (“silkies”) in Madagascar to help them find a partner overseas. Upon volunteering in my second year of service, I met a woman who was the manager of fundraising. We realized that Americans love the silk scarves my silkies make. We decided to work together and produce silk scarves for  Operation Smile to sell in order to fundraise for their mission trips to countries including Madagascar. Operation Smile conducts two mission trips to Madagascar every year where they perform surgeries on people of all ages who have cleft lips and cleft palates. In this way, we were able to support Madagascar through our business and help it to develop sustainably.”

Duquesne MBA Students “Make laughter an epidemic” for critically ill children in Costa Rica

photo 2“I was thrilled to use my MBA skillset to help an organization that impacts so many families with so few resources,” said Nick Monzo, an MBA student from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after participating in a service project designed to bring joy to hospitalized children and their families in Costa Rica.

Monzo and his 28 classmates traveled to Central America as part of a required global economics course in Duquesne’s MBA Sustainability, a program ranked first in the United States and eighth in the world for integrating social, environmental and financial responsibility. On May 16, the students served as pro bono consultants to HospiSonrisas, a not-for-profit group affiliated with the National Children’s Hospital in San Jose, and presented a strategic plan to “Make Laughter an Epidemic” by launching a foundation to generate funding to entertain sick children and grant wishes to those with life-threatening illnesses.

“Never have I been more humbled by selflessness and compassion as I was by HospiSonrisas,” said Rebecca Bykoski, after watching volunteer clowns ease anxiety in the oncology and outpatient areas of the children’s hospital. “I’m so very grateful to leave a legacy that will bring joy to suffering children and their families throughout Costa Rica.”

“To find people who want to help to change the world and believe in someone’s dreams is incredible,” added Daniela Vides Cordoba, founder and president of HospiSonrisas.

Faculty trip leader was Diane Ramos, who also teaches the live consulting courses that anchor the MBA and engage students in solving complex real world problems. Accompanying her were Pavel Yakovlev, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and William O’Rourke, J.D., executive director of the Beard Institute at Duquesne University. “Our students delivered a viable plan for overall operation of a foundation — including governance, marketing, fund-raising and administration — while living our university’s service mission in Costa Rica,” said Ramos.

The Costa Rican segment of the study trip included interface with a range of multinational, not-for-profit, governmental and academic leaders and a behind-the-scenes investigation of the burgeoning eco-tourism and medical tourism industries. Students also traveled to Guatemala where they worked on a potable water field project and learned about Peace Corps initiatives with John Patrick Gibbons, an alumnus of the program and former Peace Corp Fellow at Duquesne, who works on impact investing in Central American in his current role as a finance officer at USAID.


Net Impact + Building New Hope

A few weeks ago, Net Impact partnered up with Building New Hope for a fair trade week fundraiser.  Led by Steve Sumpter, Net Impact members sold Building New Hope’s coffee, also available at Whole Foods, in the Duquesne Union as part of the fair trade vendor market.

Fair trade is a social movement that helps producers in developing countries to create better trading conditions and promote sustainability.  Fair trade advocates for higher social and environmental standards.

Building New Hope, located in Pittsburgh, Pa., has created a coffee project that goes beyond fair trade and takes part in direct trade.  The organization works with communities in Nicaragua and El Salvador to foster economic development, education opportunities, and other community development.  Coffee is sold to raise money for continued operations and has cultivated a relationship with the employee owned farm “El Porvenir” in Nicaragua.  The farm supports 48 families, receives a price above the fair trade price, and allows reinvestment in the community.

Our Net Impact members were happy to sell this coffee during fair trade week, and educate students, faculty, and other shoppers on the mission of Building New Hope.

For more on Building New Hope, visit their website:

Networking with Forbes Fund Executives

The Forbes Fund and Duquesne University are located in Pittsburgh; however, it took a cross-country trip to make the connection.

The Forbes Fund, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, focuses on strengthening the management and policy-making capacity of the nonprofit sector.  I came across the Forbes Fund on the Net Impact site before the conference, and we had the opportunity to get to know President Kate Dewey and Director of Innovation Garrett Cooper in San Jose.  Kate and Garrett share the Net Impact common vision of impacting society through business practices.  They are optimistic about what our generation will accomplish.

This encounter reminded me how valuable networks can be – including student, alumni and professional organizations.  Our Net Impact chapter is excited about creating a productive new partnership.   Kate and Garret will be joining us and leading an idea café at Net Impact meeting next semester!

Green Gamification

You have probably heard of NikeFuel and FitBit, the gamification devices that promote healthy living.  Have you considered using gamification to promote sustainable behavior?

At the Net Impact conference, I attended a presentation by Ashok Kamal, co-founder and CEO of Bennu, a leader in green social media marketing.   He talked about applications that work with cars like the Ford Fusion and Nissan Leaf to understand a car’s impact on the world.  Other examples of gamification are hosted on intranets to help the company engage employees in sustainable choices.

Kamal thinks that sustainability should be encouraged through “fortune, fun and fame, not blame and shame.”  This quote spoke to me, because I see call for regulations as blame and shame.

To learn more about Bennu, visit this website:

Net Impact Conference Reflection


2013-2014 Net Impact Leadership Team

Throughout my life, I have wanted to be in a high impact role where I could have a positive effect on individuals or society as a whole.  Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Net Impact conference in Silicon Valley.  Net Impact is an organization focused on creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.  This organization’s mission parallels my personal vision, and I am very thankful that our MBA program sent our Net Impact Chapter officers to this inspiring conference.

At the conference, over 3,000 students and professionals came together with a shared vision to act as change agents through business.  Conference speakers were volunteers from prominent organizations, including: Starbucks, Sprint, SAP, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Timberland, TOMS, Nestle, Walt Disney, Best Buy, Target, etc.  I found myself among companies that shared the values that I hold dear to my heart.

The conference affirmed that, through business,  I will be able to impact society – whether through sustainable supply chain solutions, corporate citizenship initiatives, social entrepreneurship or  as the corporate “intraprenuer” who promotes culture change.  Regardless of career path, I plan to be a change agent just like the other attendees.  It was exciting to find that I am not alone.