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Redefining Business

Reflections from our 2018 Student Advisory Board Graduates

The Center for Responsible Business’ Student Advisory Board is composed of students who help the CRB question the status quo. They serve as a sounding board for new projects and ideas while providing feedback on existing programs. The graduating 2018 cohort is undoubtedly one of our most forward-thinking and tight-knit groups to date. They have fostered a strong sense of community and camaraderie that will undoubtedly endure throughout their careers.

As both our graduating undergrad and graduate students head off into the real-world, the Berkeley Haas commencement speakers stressed shifting paradigms in business and the need to create meaningful positive impact. Back to the Roots co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez called on graduates to “Question the Status Quo” in helping to rewrite the rules of capitalism. MBA commencement speaker Paul Rice, MBA 96 and CEO of Fair Trade USA, echoed their sentiment with an optimistic look towards the future. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift in how business is embedding sustainability and values into their culture and their business,” he said. “This is a new day.”

These inspiring calls to action reflect the dedication of our Student Advisory Board members as they start the next phase of their careers. Read on to hear from each student about the impact of their time on the CRB Student Advisory Board:

David Sternlicht
LinkedIn profile

Though David knew of the work the CRB had done when applying to Haas, he couldn’t predict the impact it would have on his work. “It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside so many motivated and like-minded people,” he said. They inspired him to stay focused on impact-oriented careers.

He remembers the B Corp Best for the World conference he attended in 2016 that cemented his desire to get more involved with the CRB. To David, the center embodies Haas values and the role of business in society. “I liked that a formal institution with dedicated staff people was responsible for continually pushing this agenda,” he said.

Mikhael Abebe
LinkedIn profile

Mikhael doesn’t just see the CRB as a phenomenal resource for the Haas community. “It is a family of students and professionals alike who are remarkably aligned on their vision,” he said. Mikhael felt a sense of community and empowerment at the Center for students looking to “challenge the status quo in business and society.”

Events like the Peterson Speaker Series, the Student Spotlight Panel, and the Berkeley Sustainable Business and Investment Forum impacted Mikhael the most. These events show the ways in which the CRB influenced his work. “It supported me in my growth as a leader personally and professionally,” he said. It also gave him and other students a platform to discuss and work on ideas that he felt passionate about.

Olivia Offutt
LinkedIn profile

In her own words, Olivia’s involvement in the CRB has been “a privilege”. It’s given her the opportunity to lead and participate in events that she felt “authentically further the sustainability and innovation of major companies.”

“I am so, so, so in love with how the CRB has developed into such an active group of individuals who are dedicated to furthering the organization’s mission,” she said. She’s confident that the current Student Advisory Board cohort will be as active and impactful as the team she worked with during her time there.

 

Samantha Penabad
LinkedIn profile

As Samantha was applying to Haas, she learned of the CRB and it became one of the reasons why she applied. She saw that other schools mostly defined social impact as it related to nonprofits, impact investing or social enterprise. “Haas was the only one with a large focus on the role of medium/large companies and impact,” she said.

Being a member of the CRB Student Advisory Board was an extraordinarily important part of Samantha’s Haas experience. Specifically, Samantha has found that the CRB was an especially useful resource in connecting with professionals and alumni. “Without the support of the CRB, I wouldn’t have created my start-up, or dared to do so many of the things I’ve accomplished here at Haas,” she said.

Anne Kramer
LinkedIn profile

Anne came to Haas to build her sustainability expertise and network, which is why the CRB was one of the reasons she applied in the first place. During her campus visit and talking with other CRB members, Anne saw that the Center was committed to creating opportunities for students in the field and connecting her with sustainability professionals. “The fact that the CRB had a Senior Advisory Board was incredibly appealing,” she said. “This signaled that these top professionals would be willing to invest time in my development.”

Anne sees the CRB as one of her defining experiences at Haas. “Through the CRB Student Board, it created a community of like-minded students, many of whom are now close friends and (I hope) future business partners,” she said. As the student lead for the Levi’s Green Chemistry event, Anne learned about green chemistry in supply chains while networking with professionals in her future sector. “It helped me build credibility,” she said.

Alex Wilton
LinkedIn profile

At the CRB, Alex found “a way to connect with leaders outside of Haas, a way to learn more about this space, and a community to grow closer to while here.” But mostly he found a dedicated staff of “wizards” and “heroes” who he credits with much of the success of the center. “[They] are having a huge impact on students, alumni and ultimately, the sustainability of the world,” he said.

During his time at Haas, the Strategic and Sustainable Business Solutions course, taught by CRB Executive Director Robert Strand, was most impactful for Alex. The course explores how sustainability, CSR, and creating shared value can serve as a lens to realize business opportunities and are central to effective corporate strategy.

David Cogswell
LinkedIn profile

The CRB was one of the institutions on campus that convinced David that Haas takes sustainability seriously. “The diversity of programming aligned with my interests in sustainability was a big draw,” he said. He was struck by how the CRB brought students together that held similar values to him. “Having a dedicated community of like-minded students on the Board to explore different facets of sustainability and support its integration on campus has been really meaningful,” he said.

He remembers the Peterson Speaker Series as the most impactful event during his time at Haas. Especially the discussion on divestment versus engagement in sustainable finance stands out as a highlight of his education. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this incredible group of people,” he said.

Maxwell Kushner-Lenhoff
LinkedIn profile

In pursuing his MBA, Max sought to use his experience as a chemist and environmental advocate with corporate experience to “help technologists unleash capitalism as a positive force towards sustainable development.” He credits the CRB’s creative approach and its connections across business and academia as being the ideal platform for this effort.

Max was awarded the CRB Fellowship in 2016, which recognizes students leading the movement to integrate sustainability into their work and the practices of the firms that employ them. In particular, the Fellowship rewards MBA candidates with a career plan in mind that integrates social or environmental considerations in the business sector to address roadblocks to sustainability. Max’s communication skills, work experience, and really strong vision for the future of chemistry in sustainable business made him a strong link between the student body and the center.

Adrian Rodrigues
LinkedIn profile

Adrian didn’t learn about the CRB until after he had joined Haas, but a recommendation from a fellow classmate and previous awareness of the Patagonia Case Competition drew him to the Center. He credits the CRB as “the crucible in which I was able to test and ideate responsible business frameworks with pioneering business leaders.”

Adrian’s passion for sustainable agriculture came to life at Haas and his experience was deepened through a course called The Responsible Company, based on the book by Patagonia leaders Vincent Stanley and Yvon Chouinard, followed by a summer internship with Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures. Adrian reflects on his shift from finance to food systems in his recent blog post, Sowing the Seeds of Regenerative Agriculture.

See what our graduating SAB students were up to last summer: http://redefiningbusiness.org/2017-student-advisory-board-summer-experiences/

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