Sustainable Business Series—MBA Student Roundtable

On February 20th, we celebrated Presidents’ Day by continuing the Sustainable Business Series with a virtual roundtable with MBA students and graduates.  This change of format allowed callers from all over the country to listen in and participate in the question and answer session. You can also listen to the evening’s conversation here.

Beginning with some background about the new Bard MBA program and curriculum, listeners then heard two graduates of Bard College undergraduate programs discuss their experiences with a traditional MBA program (Wharton), and a progressive program (the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI)).  The discussion highlighted some important characteristics of a strong and progressive MBA program, while stressing the importance of the fundamental finance, accounting, and operational skills that an MBA graduate should possess.

Addressing the need for conventional business skills in any MBA graduate, Director Goodstein emphasized that the goal of the Bard MBA, as with all MBA programs, is to arm students with the tools that they will need to be successful, as well as to provide them with the ability to find the answers to new questions that they may find once they leave the academic institution’s walls.  The difference at Bard will be the context that these tools are presented in, the mindset with which graduates are taught to apply them, and a different definition of success.

Both panelists offered reflection on some of their favorite classes from their respective programs.  The comparative advantage course offered at BGI highlighted the value-added component of sustainable business, teaching the importance of this concept through case examples and showing them the real-life applications.  At Wharton, one highlight was a practicum experience, similar to Bard MBA’s NYCLab, working with a team of students to help a group of California researchers begin marketing their new product.  A hands-on approach like this was not required, but the panelist felt that it gave him stronger skills to take into his career.

Prompted by a question from the listening audience, Director Goodstein offered a definition of what Bard considers to be a “sustainable business” as one that achieves continuous design-driven reductions in ecological footprint, while treating shareholders in a just way, and still generating a profit, or achieving a profitable triple bottom line.  One of the panelists followed this with a statement that given the state of the world economy and environment, there is a necessity to be innovative in business education. He stated that the Bard brand of education with its cutting-edge approach and appreciation for innovative potential makes this new type of MBA program very exciting and something to watch.

It was a great night of conversation to be followed up next week with a conversation about Financing Clean Energy, once again back at the offices of Cook + Fox. Hope to see you there!

–Melissa Provinsal CEP’12

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