Every business now wants a sustainability expert on board. And if you want the role, then here’s how to get an MBA in sustainable business.
Hotter days, drier years, longer seasons and erratic weather events are just some of the impacts of climate change we’re already experiencing. Combine that with a decrease in air and water quality and we’ve got dozens of crises in dire need of management. While much of that management will fall to government officials, business executives will also have to step up. And that’s not just a moral observation, but a reality of shifting market conditions. That’s where experienced, knowledgeable leaders with business degrees focusing on sustainability management will be most helpful.
One increasingly popular option for rising business leaders is an MBA (Master of Business Administration) focusing on sustainable business or sustainability management. In this piece, we’ll explore what this degree is, how and where to get one and what your career might look like after you do.
Just like a regular MBA program, you’ll study the art and science of management, business administration, and executive leadership. This includes classes like strategic management, financial accounting, economics, and various specialty courses in areas like marketing. These programs aim to prepare you for general management and executive leadership roles at the vice president or c-suite level.
However, when you choose a program with a sustainability focus, you’ll also take classes like “Humans, Climate and Business,” a course in Unity College’s MBA in Sustainable Management program. These courses will focus on ethics, environmental science and their impact on business decision-making. Another area of focus for these students is learning about regulations and compliance. As governments tighten environmental standards, businesses will require experts in the scope of those regulations and the execution know-how needed to meet them. A quality MBA program with a sustainability focus will teach you how to navigate and meet these requirements.
While various ranking systems weigh factors like post-graduation salary, titles and employment rate, professors and class options, many agree that the top program globally is MIT’s Sloan Business School in the US and Cambridge’s Judge Business School in the UK. Other top programs include De Montfort University in Leicester and Hult International Business School in London. However, prospective students should also consider checking Bschools.org’s list of top MBA programs for environmentalists, which offers a realistic look at top schools, onsite programmes and online programmes.
Here’s just a few admirable options:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT Sloan School of Management
University of Vermont – Grossman School of Business
Georgia Institute of Technology – Scheller College of Business
Fordham University – Gabelli School of Business
University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of Business
While demand for green jobs grew by 33% in the UK last year, competition for executive leadership roles remains stiff. That’s why many leaders advocate rounding out your skill-set before entering a sustainability (or any) MBA program, especially with entry-to-mid level roles in areas like corporate social responsibility and human resources/diversity, equity and inclusion. Those two sectors are often closely linked with c-suite and VP-level roles related to sustainability, which is why it can be a leg-up to have experience there.
There are also a variety of prominent consulting firms with sustainability-focused offerings that hire science and business graduates to assist firms in green-ifying their operations. Firms like Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte and McKinsey rank highly among environmental and sustainability consultancies, which means they’re also good options for sustainability MBA graduates.
While titles may vary, the business areas most closely associated with sustainability are corporate social responsibility, supply chain, environmental consulting, compliance and even research and development.
Whether you have a specialised MBA or not, navigating environmental challenges will become a part of your job in the next decade. If your goal is to succeed in the business world, equipping yourself with that knowledge as soon as possible is a huge advantage. However, it’s not only business leaders that can initiate eco-friendly business strategies, so don’t be afraid to pursue a more ethical path without an advanced degree. If you find that maximising your positive impact means moving up the corporate ladder, then an MBA in sustainable business or management may be right for you.
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