Have you ever wondered as an MBA student what kind of job you are interested in looking for? Surely you will have been interested in knowing what you can do with a green MBA. Or also the question, what can I do with an MBA in Sustainability? And without a doubt, knowing what the outputs are, from now on the functions that an MBA graduate with an environmental profile can supposedly carry out, such as sustainability consultant functions, or the roles to play in a supply and logistics chain, or functions as director of compliance, as well as managerial roles in industries focused on sustainability, in the field of engineering or also in human resources, which naturally has to work very much in line with this new environmental trend that has been changing the agendas of politicians, governments and of course, Business School programs.
The value of degrees that cover sustainability
Without a doubt, titles that cover the issue of sustainability are valued. So another question we can ask ourselves is how much of an impact do these programs really have on job placement and career success in the real world? There aren’t many hard numbers on this, but the metrics suggest that sustainability titles can serve as a beneficial stepping stone down the path of professional and personal development.
The choices made by Business School graduates regarding the companies in which to develop their careers, at least in their first professional stage, have increased considerably in the field of those that they consider better for the environment.
Our search on the green question in postgraduate courses
From OUR EDITORIAL STAFF we have reviewed what this type of election is like, also going to certain studies and surveys that we consider to be of interest, such as the one carried out by the prestigious Financial Times, which says that the number of Business School graduates who choose a career in the oil and gas industry is down 16% since 2019 and 40% since 2006, according to a sample of that research. Which further provides a data analysis highlighting how millennials and Generation Z are increasingly focusing on climate change as they enter the MBA job market.
Actually, we should not be surprised by the results of these studies, from which it can be concluded that during this long period of 15 years there has been a 20% increase in students recruited in the renewable and environmental industries, bringing the total to a new record. Most have joined companies like Vestas, Alstom Power and Siemens Gamesa. At the same time, there has been a move away from Shell, Exxon, Chevron and other energy groups whose businesses are based on fossil fuels.
Conclusions that anticipate attitudes years from now
The conclusions derived from this investigation by the Financial Times also yield data of great interest to the defenders of entrepreneurship, from which new leaders will emerge from this niche, especially in the NT’s that will stand out, promote society and create sources of wealth and work. Therefore, it follows from the FT’s research that MBA students in the green sector are more likely to become entrepreneurs and start their own companies immediately after graduation. This is a very important added value that must be taken into account by those responsible for the programming and curricular content of postgraduate studies.
But so that we have a clearer idea of the scope of this result, let’s see what is the source that led to these conclusions. All these findings come from a survey conducted for the Financial Times by LinkedIn, the professional networking site, based on the first careers of 3.5 million MBA graduates since 2004, and the extent to which they consider the jobs to be “green”. They also provide information on students career aspirations and opportunities, and the relative influence of various business schools.
Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, says: “I see this as an evolution, not a revolution for the green economy. Even MBA graduates are going greener. They are doing the same jobs as before, but in a greener way. Each sector will include more and more green skills.”
According to the research, the proportion of students who moved to sustainability-related careers increased to 0.58% of the total in 2020. By contrast, the number of those who started working in the more traditional oil and gas sectors fell to 1.24% last year, continuing a gradual decline from a high of 2.04% in 2007.
The data points also show Business Schools that have trained a particularly high proportion of MBAs to accept green jobs. These include Copenhagen, IESE (Barcelona) and Yale, as well as the Brazilian institutions Universidad de São Paulo and Fundação Getulio Vargas.
Meanwhile, some schools trained significant numbers of graduates who went on to join sustainable businesses or fossil fuel companies, notably Harvard, London Business School, and the University of Texas at Austin.
The importance of generational change
Michel Rassy, associate director of admissions for Latin America at IESE, says: “This generation is more likely to think about sustainability. Every year the number of MBA candidates interested in a long-term purpose increases. They are the first to say that money does not buy happiness”.
He says factors that explain IESE graduates commitment to the issue include the School’s Catholic principles, its electives on sustainability, a social impact fund, and a responsible business student club.
Himanshu Gupta, who grew up in an Indian village before earning an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business and has since created ClimateAI, a business to help predict climate risks to supply chains, says the school reflected and supported his interest in sustainability.
“There is a self-selection mechanism to identify a certain quality of students with a certain DNA,” he says. “It all starts with the application essay, which asks what matters most to you in life. When you go to parties and ask what other people are working on, they are discussing impact. It makes you think about what you’re doing with your life.”
A trend that has been reinforced in the last ten years
But as usual in our work at OUR EDITORIAL STAFF, we have “digged” a little further back in this time in which, as we have said above, it is still the environment that marks the agenda of political leaders and countries, which they end up being formalized in broad joint agreements, such as the one in Paris. For this reason, in this search there are very authoritative opinions that already eight years ago warned of this change in trend in the elections for postgraduate studies. Such is the case of Marsha Willard, co-founder and board member of the “International Society of Sustainability Professionals” and CEO of Axis Performance Advisors, who stated in 2014 that the value of a sustainability degree “increases with each passing day”, highlighting at the time that “the field of sustainability is still quite new”. This meant that the professionals working in this area came from a disparate set of backgrounds; there were people who were environmentalists, architects, organizational development specialists, they were a bunch of skill sets. But Marsha Willard clarifies that this collective perspective created a fairly rich foundation for this field of professional action, thus producing a tipping point that having a degree in organizational development, environmental studies or engineering was not specific enough, so the higher education itself has responded by offering more careers that have sustainability in the title.
Research carried out at the time also revealed that there was a growing interest in higher education focused on sustainability. In 2013, Net Impact, a non-profit organization for students and professionals working in the field of sustainability, published Business as Unusual Guide 2013, reaching a very interesting conclusion: “that making an environmental and social impact through business it has gone from “nice” to “must have” for prospective business graduate students.”
Some 91 percent of 3,300 graduate students reported that social and environmental issues are very important or essential to long-term business success, and 85 percent said they wanted to address these issues while in graduate school .
For those looking to address these important issues, sustainability titles make a lot of sense. The best programs offer targeted training, experiential learning, networking opportunities and, of course, “proof” to potential job prospects that a core knowledge base in sustainability has been achieved.
But even for those who know they are interested in pursuing a degree in sustainability, the questions still linger. Namely: What is the best way to get that title? And is it really worth it?
This information has been prepared by OUR EDITORIAL STAFF