SGE Students Tap into Booming Boston Network

by Bret Nolan Collazzi, MBA '13 (2/5/13)

Bret Nolan Collazzi, MBA '13

Part II of Burlington-Boston Trek features visits to Harvest Power, Root Capital, and New Balance, and a mixer with dozens of recent alums.

Johnson students traveling to Boston over winter break were greeted by an eclectic mix of sustainability-minded companies and a deep alumni network eager to forge a closer Ithaca-Boston connection.

Part of the inaugural Burlington + Boston Trek, organized by the Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Club with support from the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Career Management Center, the two-day visit to Beantown exposed students to leaders in the fields of clean energy, impact investing, and sustainability consulting – as well as more traditional firms with a social or environmental mission, such as the athletic shoe manufacturer New Balance.

At many stops, MBAs had a chance to quiz Cornell alumni on the latest opportunities and challenges in their industries, including Paul Sellew (CALS '79), founder of Harvest Power, which converts organic waste such as leaves and food scraps into electricity (via natural gas) and fertilizer. The firm surpassed $100 million in revenue last year.


At Continuum, a premier design consultancy, students sampled dozens of product innovations conceived by in-house engineers, including a recyclable toothbrush whose packaging doubles as an envelope so that consumers can easily send the product back, and a lever-powered wheelchair that can traverse unpaved roads in the developing world.

In addition to individual company visits – other hosts included Root Capital, Navigant Consulting, and EnerNOC – students mingled with dozens of recent alums during a networking event at the downtown restaurant Scholars, striking up conversations that many plan to continue as Boston becomes an increasingly popular destination for Johnson graduates.

Root Capital

“Since the Center was established 10 years ago we have seen a steady flow of SGE Club alumni relocate to the greater Boston area with diverse companies addressing a range of environmental and social issues,” said Monica Touesnard, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise.  “We were very excited to facilitate this connection between current students and alumni of the program.”

The Boston trip, which took place December 17 and 18, 2012, followed a two-day visit to Burlington, Vermont, where students visited with green business icons including Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Vermont Smoke & Cure.

Pictures provided by Hanson Boyd, MBA '14.