Why You’ll Be Glad you Earned Your MBA in Sustainability

Preserve the globe through sustainability

While the MBA has long been a staple of successful careers in business, the emergence of new, specialized MBA programs has many students wondering which path they should take. One that has already begun proving its value–to students as well as the business community–is the MBA in Sustainable Business.

What Workers Really Want

Surveys have shown that more than anything else, today’s workers want a sense of purpose from their careers and the opportunity to turn passion into a career. Employers know this; they also know that engaged employees are more productive, and that purposeful careers make for greater employee engagement at work.1

It isn’t just employees who are looking for more value from companies, either. The very idea of success has undergone a change of definition to incorporate what is often called The Triple Bottom Line, comprised of Economic, Social, and Environmental factors.2 Consumers, as well as employees, are sensitive to whether the places they work and do business have this kind of comprehensive sense of responsibility and mission.

Sustainability careers exist right at this intersection of purpose, value, and engagement. In order to satisfy the demand for purpose, companies are increasingly looking to recruit professionals whose background in business, finance, and management is complimented by an understanding of environmental considerations and how to lead businesses toward a better balance on Triple Bottom Line factors.2

This all means that MBA candidates who pursue a specialized Sustainable Business degree are primed not just for professional success, but a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work. It is a win-win for employer and employee. After completing his MBA in Sustainable Business online with Marylhurst, alumnus Travis Douville accepted a job at Vestas, a global energy company devoted exclusively to wind energy. “The last six months have been a blur of excitement and learning. Wind energy is undergoing another period of explosive growth,” Douville explained. “Eleven- or twelve-hour days aren’t uncommon so far but they go by quickly.”

Leading Change

Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

In this case, gaining both business and sustainability credentials allows you be the change that employers want to see, too.

As more corporations recognize the value of sustainable practices and purposeful business models, as well as environmentally-focused corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, they are demanding more and more leaders with a knowledge of how to integrate these elements and spearhead the transformation.2, 3

Innovation today is often driven by sustainability initiatives. Companies big and small already know about trading out their old, inefficient lightbulbs or installing smart faucets in restrooms, to save money and shrink their carbon footprint, but making a serious commitment to green principles takes creativity as well as good business sense.4, 5 Leadership here takes creative thinking combined with strong business fundamentals, not just duplicating what others have done before.4

Douville’s ambitions embody this need.

“I am still an engineer at heart, so I suspect I will be tied to technology in some way. Long-term, I would love to lead teams which address combined renewable development or which bring novel renewable energy technologies to market,” he said of his plans to utilize his education in the future.

Helping transform yesterday’s organizations and industries into tomorrow’s green pioneers will take more than technological change; it requires innovative, committed leaders to advocate for change and integrate Triple Bottom Line principles into every level of their companies. This kind of challenge is catapulting MBA graduates with environmental bona fides right onto the front lines of disruption, and executive leadership.

Earning Green by Going Green

Pursuing careers with purpose doesn’t mean sacrificing earning potential. As the growing popularity of the Triple Bottom Line indicates, businesses recognize that a commitment to environmental-friendliness and corporate social responsibility doesn’t have to come at the expense of profit or economic performance.2 Consumers are rewarding ethical corporations with their business; so, too, are businesses rewarding professionals who bring their sustainability expertise to work.6

There are countless career paths in sustainability, from government and the public service sector, to non-profits, from the biggest corporations on the planet to small businesses right down the street. The need for innovation and leadership isn’t limited to existing organizations, either; environmentally-driven entrepreneurship is on the rise around the world right along with an explosion of new roles in sustainability.

All of the demand on the part of employers and consumers is backed up by compensation meant to attract the top talent and specialized background the MBA in Sustainability was designed to develop. If you decide that this program is for you, you’ll find your choice is rewarded with purpose, opportunity, and competitive compensation. “I suspect I’ll look back on my career someday and be able to gauge the full return, but I’m certainly pleased so far,” Douville says.


1: http://www.kornferry.com/press/korn-ferry-executive-survey-where-theres-purpose-theres-profit/
2: http://www.onlinembareport.com/articles/mba-spotlight-green-mba
3: http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose/%24FILE/ey-the-business-case-for-purpose.pdf
4: https://hbr.org/2009/09/why-sustainability-is-now-the-key-driver-of-innovation
5: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/from-household-trash-to-jet-fuel-how-companies-are-going-green-2015-07-27
6: https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2010/07/12/truth-about-sustainability-compensation