“Profession and Purpose is an essential resource for connecting MBA students and graduates with careers that will literally reinvent the way business is done in the future.” Hunter Lovins
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|Preface Getting started|
Sustainability holds the promise of an exciting new approach to business — one in which business goals are aligned with social and environmental goals. Multinational corporations are recognizing that we live in an increasingly resource-constrained world, and that more accountability for corporate social and environmental impacts will accrue to them. More importantly, forward-thinking executives understand that sustainability can present new opportunities for competitive advantage — whether that is by reducing costs, minimizing risk, appealing to increasingly conscientious customers, or reaching new markets entirely.
With the growth of this field comes a host of interesting new career opportunities for MBAs. As companies are grappling with challenges like how to develop social return on investment (SROI) metrics or understand the potential impact of corporate carbon footprints on stock prices, there are new opportunities for the next generation of managers — managers who are not only trained in traditional MBA fundamentals but also grounded in an understanding of the multifaceted social and environmental challenges facing 21st-century global business leaders. Entirely new career paths are opening to MBAs interested in sustainability: sustainable venture capital, green marketing, corporate social responsibility management, carbon credit trading, and sustainability consulting, to name a few.
Perhaps even more than corporate executives, MBA students understand this trend. The next generation of managers can see that the future of business will require a new set of skills and responsibilities. Between 2003 and 2008, membership in Net Impact, the global organization for MBAs and business professionals interested in sustainability, increased more than fourfold. By March 2009, over 130 business schools had a Net Impact chapter. Around the world, MBA students realize that a different model will be required for businesses in the coming decades.
The career paths that fall under the broad umbrella of “sustainability” are as diverse as the MBA students themselves. One student may be interested in social entrepreneurship in West Africa, and the next will be seeking advice about clean-tech venture capital careers in Silicon Valley; a third will be interested in greening global supply chains. Corporate social responsibility, sustainable product marketing, microfinance, green real estate development, renewable energy, and other interests all likewise fall under the sustainability umbrella at times.
Because of this diversity, it is often hard for business schools’ career management centers to address sustainability-related career options in a comprehensive way. Many sustainability-related companies and nonprofits are not accustomed to on-campus recruiting. Others have not historically hired MBAs at all. MBA students and alumni interested in sustainability careers are often left to navigate their own internship and job search paths. And, often, they struggle.
Profession and Purpose has been written to address this urgent need. Whether you are focused on an off-campus search or participating in the on-campus recruiting process, there are a host of sustainability-specific career resources you should know about. You’ll need to be well versed in sustainability news and trends, and network at the right events, conferences, and company presentations. You also need to know about industry- and discipline-specific websites that post sustainability jobs for positions with titles like Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Socially Responsible Investing Analyst, and Renewable Energy Market Analyst.
Through hundreds of conversations with MBA students, professionals, and recruiters, as well as her own personal experience, the author has compiled the key job search resources and tips for MBAs interested in sustainability careers. The book provides ideas for researching companies, making the most of your networking, identifying job and internship openings, and preparing for interviews.
No matter what stage of your MBA career search process you’re in, this book will help you better understand your career options in the many fields of sustainability, direct you to the best resources and help you to fine-tune your sustainability job search strategy. It’s the sustainability career coach MBAs have been waiting for.
The opportunity for MBAs to make a real difference in the world through
careers in sustainability is tremendous. Profession and Purpose is an
essential resource for connecting MBA students and graduates with careers that
will literally reinvent the way business is done in the
Hunter Lovins, Co-author of Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution; Founding Faculty, Presidio Graduate School
Now, more than ever, we need smart MBA graduates working on the front lines
of sustainability. In all industry sectors, in all company departments, we need
professionals working to make business greener, smarter, and more innovative.
Profession and Purpose maps out specific sustainability career options
and offers practical advice on getting there. It is a great resource for MBAs
who want to marry business acumen with their commitment to the
Andrew Winston, MBA, author of Green Recovery and co-author of Green to Gold
There is no such thing as a typical career path in sustainability. For MBA
students, who increasingly want a career that reflects their values,
Profession and Purpose will be an essential resource. It addresses the
complexity of the field through a concise yet comprehensive ‘how-to-do-it’
approach that should lead many future leaders to key roles in responsible
Liz Maw, Executive Director, Net Impact
Today’s job seekers, from newly minted MBAs to mid-career changers, want more
than a good job. They want to work for companies that are making a difference,
that value people and the planet as much as they do profits. Profession and
Purpose shows the way, helping MBAs forge a path to a job and a career that
can make lasting change happen.
Joel Makower, Executive Editor, GreenBiz.com, and author of Strategies for the Green Economy
Profession and Purpose offers insights and inspiration for the
sustainable job seeker. The strategies and resources in this book are sure to
help any MBA interested in a career in sustainability.
Jim Hutton Johnson (MBA 2007) Senior Manager, EnerNOC
How many people can claim they have their dream job? The challenge and impact
of sustainable business is the stuff dream jobs are made of. And Profession
and Purpose is the definitive guide to get you there. Oh, the headaches it
would have saved me if it had been written five years ago!
Katherine Jennrich, MBA, Senior Manager, Energy Services, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Today’s top talent will use Profession and Purpose to secure the
positions that will lead tomorrow’s markets into a more sustainable future. The
book gives job seekers the tools to find an employer that will value their
ability to draw on the interconnections between business, natural resources,
equity, and innovation. Kross’s guidance is comprehensive, strategic, and
practical. She cracks the nut for both career advisors and professionals who are
looking at the finally burgeoning array of sustainability
Meghan Chapple-Brown, Director, Office of Sustainability, The George Washington University; Corporate sustainability strategy consultant, MBA/MS University of Michigan
The increased importance of sustainability and related issues in business
performance creates tremendous opportunities for those willing to expand their
horizons to consider environmental and social performance as integral elements
of long-term financial success. The time is right for a new exploration of
career options, in dedicated areas such as sustainable development, alternative
energy and carbon accounting — as well as the integration of sustainable
thinking in traditional disciplines such as marketing, finance, and
Christopher Park, National Practice Leader, Enterprise Sustainability, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Want your career to change the world? Start with this book! If only this book
had been around when I began my sustainability career and journey!
Dr Kenny Tang CFA, author of Green CITYnomics: The Urban War against Climate Change
Part I: Evaluating Your Options
What is Sustainability?
Sustainable Jobs and Internship Options
MBA Careers in Sustainability: A Framework
A Note about Salaries
Tips for an Off-Campus Job Search
Making the Most of Informational Interviews
Part II: Navigating Specific Career Paths
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Corporate Environmental Management/Corporate Sustainability
Green Building/Sustainable Real Estate Development
Renewable Energy Industry Jobs
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
Additional Career Paths
Part III: Timeline and Job Search Resources
MBA Job Search Timeline
Key Sustainable Business Internet Resources
Job Posting Websites
Select List of Companies
|Katie Kross is a sustainability career coach, MBA student advisor, and business school administrator. She has directed sustainability programs for the Corporate Sustainability Initiative at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan–Flagler Business School. An MBA graduate herself, she has developed and managed extensive career support programs for students interested in sustainability and counseled hundreds of individual students and alumni on their career paths. She has also served on the boards of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and the Triangle, North Carolina professional chapter of Net Impact|