What Purpose Careers Can I Pursue with a Green MBA?

A wind farm in Romania.

Companies are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact of their business. This commitment to sustainability has created a number of new job opportunities as professionals are needed to manage and implement these strategies and programs.

Graduates who have obtained an MBA with an emphasis in sustainability are well prepared to take advantage of these opportunities, using the business skills and the knowledge of environmental issues they have gained while pursuing their education. Here are a few areas where these skills are needed.

Green Energy Operations Manager

Green Energy Operations Managers manage a variety of green energy projects. These include everything from wind and solar farms to geothermal generators and hydropower. A green energy operations manager works in a number of areas. Employees: Much of a green energy manager’s time is spent managing employees. They must also manage contractors and subcontractors. This includes recruitment, hiring, and training or overseeing training for all project personnel. Often they also provide or coordinate technical support, a position that demands a great deal of knowledge and research. Daily Operations: A green energy operations manager must also track the day-to-day functions of the project, from maintenance to site inspections. They are also in charge of warranty programs and overseeing the ordering of tools, replacement parts, and equipment. Managers also track site performance, downtime, and power distribution. Much of the work of a green energy operations manager is conducted outside in the environment where their particular project is located, although office work is also required. Managers also often travel to other sustainable energy sites. Green Energy Operations Managers make an average of $80,000 a year plus bonuses and commissions, and demand for the job is expected to grow by about 9 percent over the next decade. [1]

Chief Sustainability Officer

The Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) is usually not only the face of a company’s sustainability efforts, but guides the organization in improving working conditions in their supply chain, creating better safety procedures, and reaping profits from products that address environmental and social problems. “Companies are monitoring the impact they’re having environmentally and on society, and the appointment of the CSO reflects an underlying need for companies to not only monitor but also improve their performance,” says Harvard Business School associate professor George Serafeim. [2] The CSO works at a few different levels, depending on the company they work for and their level of commitment or progress toward sustainability. Compliance: This is the stage where the company is simply trying to comply with regulations related to sustainable practices. They often rely on employees to work on “green teams.” If they do have a CSO, it is a part time position, usually combined with some other position within the company. Efficiency: This is usually the stage when the CSO becomes a full time position, but more often than not, the focus is on environmental efforts that also save the company time and money making it more efficient. “These things are an easy sell,” Serafeim says. “They’re a good thing to do and the obvious thing to do.” Efficiency efforts not only make the company more profitable, but they also help with reputation management. At this stage, the CSO usually consolidates the responsibility for sustainability projects to one department managed by that position. Innovation: At this stage, the company becomes more active, reaching out to help solve problems beyond the company instead of just within it, while still remaining profitable. Many companies never get to this stage. In the case of those that do, the CSO distributes sustainability duties to several departments instead of just one, the opposite of the method in the efficiency stage. Everyone takes responsibility for the company being an environmentally friendly entity rather than just one individual. [3] A Chief Sustainability Officer makes an average of $120,495 a year depending on the organization he works for and where it is located. The growth for CSO positions is one of the highest in sustainability careers, with nearly a 12 percent increase projected over the next decade.

Other Sustainability Careers

While the most common roles where a graduate would apply an MBA with an emphasis in sustainability are in management, there are several more green career fields you may not have thought of. Mission Driven Brand Manager: A marketing position, this career involves spreading the company message of sustainability practices and the efforts the company is making to be environmentally friendly. University Sustainability Director: This individual coordinates a university’s everyday activities to make them more environmentally friendly and creates curriculum and extracurricular activities around sustainable practice and knowledge. Environmental Social Governance Investor: This is an investor who guides clients toward investing in companies that align with their values and moral compass. Foundation Program Officer: This position is held by an individual who wants to guide a foundation in making grant and donation choices based not only on need and strength of application, but also keeping in mind the environmental impact the activities they are supporting will have. While not a comprehensive list, these are some ideas of career areas where a graduate of a Master’s in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Sustainability program such as the one offered at Marylhurst University can apply their skills and training. As this exciting field grows, there will be even more opportunities to make a difference in the world of business be encouraging and managing sustainable practices.

[1] http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Industry=Renewable_Energy_Power_Generation/Salary
[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2014/10/08/what-do-chief-sustainabilty-officers-do/#13612d9333ab [3] https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=465084070078098064027064075078118069120073069085030094102095074026125069069031000071042006097007012027110071101001117120068000104032014085018080064119082116031101064009073098102024024123093019086094081104086029115123127121089107101095100084005020111&EXT=pdf