whygreenmbaThe growth in new green MBA programs has been remarkable and encouraging. Every time I look on the web, in a paper or magazine I seem to see a new advertisement or write-up about a new program. It might appear that there will not be enough jobs for these newly minted sustainability specialists but the demand is growing and expected to increase rapidly as climate weirdness, resource shortages and economic problems continue to mount. Larger companies will soon all have dedicated sustainability specialists, reporting to a sustainability VP, and departments dedicated to improving the efficiency of operations throughout the value chain, devising more profitable ways of managing and eliminating waste and costly non-renewable materials, and identifying new market opportunities for more sustainable products and services.

How big is the market? In the U.S. alone there are more than a million firms with more than 10 employees, about a half million companies with 20-99 employees, and more than 100,000 with more than 100 employees. In addition, many of the 4 million smaller firms will need sustainability advice, sustainability reporting, and more sustainable management. The global demand is larger and growing even faster as Asia, South America and Europe race ahead of the United States.  International sustainability reporting increased 60% this year.

Training is also seeing increasing demand. On the west coast these programs include the pioneering executive style programs, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Presidio Graduate School, Marshall Goldsmith School of Management, Dominican University and our on-line Green MBA at Anaheim University.

There are also many green-themed or green-tinted traditional business programs and certificate programs that can provide a better understanding of the issues and opportunities in sustainable management (see the annual review in Sustainable Industries Journal). Specialized training in sustainability reporting under the Global Reporting Initiative (see ISOS Group), International Standards Organization (ISO14000, 26000), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED-USGBC), ULE880 – Sustainable Manufacturing, Project Management (PMI), Quality Management (SixSigma), Certified financial planner (CFP) and other certifications may also be desirable for many positions.

The challenge as a prospective student is finding a program that fits your interests, timing, and budget. Look closely to see if the program will provide you with the opportunity to learn the skills you need to succeed. This will in most cases include courses in management, finance, leadership, accounting and reporting, innovation and entrepreneurship, and strategy, all emphasizing sustainability. Case studies and projects and teamwork are an integral part of learning how to bring these issues into the workplace. International experience with multicultural teams is also a plus. Look at the faculty to see if their interests and experience, availability for student interaction, and outlook are likely to work for you.

If you are interested in working with non-governmental organizations, for example, does the faculty have experience with NGOs?  If not, they may not cover the special issues that arise in NGOs.  If you wish to work on sustainability of government programs, the Department of Defense has been a leader; look for the same range of experience. Networking is essential for rapid career advancement, so look for faculty and programs that are well linked to practicing professionals.

A word of caution: Many students that are inspired to develop a career in sustainable management are from non-traditional business backgrounds. Their often more holistic perspectives are ideal for understanding the complexity and inter-connectivity of complex systems and creating innovative solutions to complex problems, but if they are not willing to learn the language and skills of business, they may find it hard to convince an employer to give them a chance.

Sustainable management is here to stay. Our lives and livelihood depend on it. And careers in this field are rewarding, positive and soul-affirming. Is a Green Business career for you?

David Bainbridge
Vice-President for Sustainability Emeritus



greenmba top01The Anaheim University Kisho Kurokawa Green Institute Online MBA in Global Sustainable Management (the Green MBA) provides candidates with the business skills needed to look at the financial, environmental and social implications of management decisions. Whether you are responsible for marketing, finance, strategic planning, corporate social responsibility (CSR), or overseeing engineering and manufacturing functions of a company, the Green MBA allows you to incorporate the social and environmental costs of doing business into your work. The Green MBA allows you to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible while still being successful in your business endeavors.

Executives who want an edge above the rest need a Green MBA. Here are a few examples:

  • A marketing director deciding on how to print promotional materials or how to package a product
  • An investment banker deciding whether acquiring a manufacturing plant is a sound investment
  • A purchasing director deciding which materials and which supplier to use
  • A CSR officer documenting the company's environmental and social impact
  • An engineering manager deciding how to best manufacture a product
  • An investor relations officer documenting how the company has created value for its shareholders
  • Managers wanting to be more successful at advancing their initiatives
  • Anyone who wants to be globally competitive

greenmba top02Today's corporate sector is increasingly emphasizing the concept of sustainability and incorporating a triangle of economic, environmental and social viewpoints when making ethical management decisions about corporate growth and development. As companies around the globe face the challenges of sustainability, there is an increasing need for leaders who have the capacity to incorporate strategies for both sustainability and profitability into their businesses to achieve value maximization in a more holistic way. With environmental issues such as global warming, pollution and the depletion of natural resources threatening our very existence, corporations must learn to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to protect our planet while taking care of people and maximizing profit. Sustainable management looks beyond short-term quarterly profits, and focuses on long-term gain by incorporating the environmental and social costs of doing business into management decisions.