Panels Examine Intersection of Business and the Environment
Two recent events at Yale SOM fostered discussion of the complex ways in which business concerns and environmental concerns can affect each other.
The first was a panel featuring five recent graduates who have gone on to be leaders at the intersection of business and sustainability. It was held on October 24 and was sponsored by Yale SOM's Business and the Environment Club.
The five recent graduates have jobs focused on finding ways for companies to either decrease their carbon footprints or create products that have a positive impact on the environment. The panelists—Elizabeth Turnbull SOM/FES '11 of Adidas, Eva Zlotnicka SOM/FES '11 of UBS, Anna Palazij '10 of PepsiCo, Allyson Fish '08 of DuPont, and Kara Rodgers '05 of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency—spoke about the work they do and how current students can begin laying the groundwork toward a career in this space.
"Companies are really desperate to know where the value is in sustainability," said Turnbull. "And if you can figure out in your time here how to articulate the business case for good environmental management, you can kind of write your own ticket."
Watch video of the entire panel discussion.
The second event brought together experts from all over the world to highlight the closely intertwined roles of business and government in any large-scale sustainability effort. The panel, held on October 27, was titled, "Greening the Economy: Perspectives on Public-Private Collaboration," and was sponsored by the Business and Politics Club.
Three of the speakers were Yale World Fellows: Orit Marom-Albeck, one of Israel's leading environmental lawyers and founder and CEO of Pure Drop Ltd.; Marcelo de Camargo Furtado, the executive director of Greenpeace Brazil; and Adrien Couton, the CEO of the largest operator of community water systems in India, Naandi Community Water Services. The fourth speaker was Pavan Sukhdev, the Dorothy S. McCluskey Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, a career banker, and the founder-CEO of GIST Advisory. The panel was moderated by Brad Gentry, senior lecturer in sustainable investments and research scholar and co-director of the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale.
Sukhdev opened the panel by drawing on his experience to discuss the factors that would be required to consider an economy green and what it will take to turn both government and business away from old practices. Furtado described the challenges that inequality between rich and poor nations pose in transitioning to a more sustainable economy. He also described the role of advocacy groups in putting pressure on both governments and businesses. Couton said that his work bringing clean drinking water to rural India is one example of the sort of practical initiatives that have to be a part of the overall solution, if only as a way of addressing short-term and immediate needs. Marom-Albeck described how the Israeli government has encouraged the development of new sustainability technology and private investment by investing in startup endeavors.
The two discussions provided a rich range of perspectives for students looking to understand how their professional decisions can have a broad impact on the world.