Sustainable Advice

by Damian Kearney, MBA’15 (10/25/13)

Damian Kearney, MBA’15

Schuyler Blackman (MBA ’12), Associate Brand Manager, Degree for Men at Unilever, provides students with insightful information about finding the right job in the sustainability field.

Schuyler BlackmanClass of 2012 alumnus Schuyler Blackman stopped by Sage Hall in early October to chat with current Johnson students who are navigating the sometimes daunting internship and job search. Blackman, who participated in the Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion in the spring of 2011, addressed the role that the immersion played in his job as an Associate Brand Manager, Degree for Men at Unilever and how he incorporated his experience in his job search.

Johnson students involved in the Sustainable Global Enterprise club often seek employment outside the domain of formal sustainability. Blackman offered insights on conveying a passion for sustainability while pursuing these positions.  

The first piece of advice Blackman offered to current students was to understand yourself and your story. “Before you tell a recruiter your story,” he suggested, “make sure you do it in a way that is authentic. First you must demonstrate the ability to do the job they are hiring you to do. Then convey how your sustainability experience would make you an asset to that company.”

Secondly, Blackman made sure to underscore the importance of understanding the company and the role you are pursuing. “Get to know companies you’re interested in very well in order to understand their culture and the role that sustainability plays in it.” He said that picking companies with sustainability “in their DNA” was a critical part of his search. “Sustainable companies are thinking long-term. Sustainability is woven into all that they do.”

What attracted him to the brand management position at Unilever was the company’s specific vision for growth coupled with reduction in environmental impact. “As an Associate Brand Manager, I don’t have a specific sustainability role,” Blackman explained, “but I do have responsibilities that directly impact my brand. Working for a company like Unilever makes those responsibilities implicitly focused on sustainability.”

Blackman left students with the message that sustainability will be a matter of survival for businesses in the coming years. And if they want to be a part of building sustainable strategy for companies, they have to show their passion. He urged students to join affinity groups in the workplace, get involved in sustainability projects, and continue learning. “No one is going to guide you to a career focused in sustainability. In order to get there, you have to hustle.”