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. Profession and Purpose 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, Profession and Purpose 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.
- About the author
Part I: Evaluating your options
- Getting started: MBA careers in sustainability
- What is sustainability?
- Sustainable jobs and internship options
- Framing your search
- Tips for an off-campus job search
- Making the most of informational interviews
- Gaining experience
- Getting to your dream job: Start with the end in mind
- Plan B?
- A note about salaries
- Staying the course
- Organizing your search
Part II: Navigating specific career paths
- Corporate sustainability & CSR
- Sustainability consulting
- Sustainable real estate & green building
- Energy & cleantech
- Green marketing
- Environmental conservation/nonprofits
- Social entrepreneurship & impact investing
- Sustainable investing
- Mission-driven business
- Additional career paths
Part III: Job search resources
- Sustainable companies
- Internet research resources
- Job posting websites
- Geographic search resources
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Katie Kross is a sustainability practitioner, career coach, and educator who has counseled and inspired hundreds of MBA students to go on to sustainability careers with Fortune 500 companies, social and environmental non-profits, mission-driven companies, and startups. Katie's practical, solutions-oriented approach to the sustainability job search has led professionals and students alike to seek her out as a career coach.Katie is managing director of the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. A sought-after speaker, she has presented to business school audiences at Yale, MIT, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Northwestern University. She is a regular contributor to other publications on topics related to careers in sustainability and publishes career search resources and strategies on her blog at www.professionandpurpose.com. She holds a BA from Davidson College and an MBA from UNC.