Sustainable Global Enterprise – An Experience in Combining Perspectives
by Sheffin Joseph, MRP ‘15 (4/22/16)
Stepping out of my comfort zone and immersing myself in a
different field of study.
One of my favorite things about Cornell is the opportunity it
provides students to go outside their department and “immerse” themselves in different
fields of study. One such opportunity is the Sustainable Global Enterprise
Immersion (SGE) at the Johnson Graduate School of Business. An immersion can be
thought of as an experiential learning project for business students that gives
students a chance to work with real world clients on consulting projects. SGE
specifically focuses on projects that have some mix of social, economic and/or
environmental goals. The SGE immersion is available to non-Johnson students and
selection is based on a competitive application. As a master’s student in City
Planning, SGE gave me a great opportunity to work with students from a variety
of backgrounds on a real consulting project.
Each of the non-Johnson students are placed in a team of 2-3
Johnson students with a unique client and project. The clients range from small
start-ups and non-profits to large multi-national corporations. The projects are
also quite diverse. For instance, my team worked on a project to determine the
best country to locate a manufacturing facility in the Asia-Pacific region for
a benefit corporation. In order to create a recommendation, we had to address
many criteria including labor conditions, wages, tariffs, and taxes among many
others factors. It was a great experience in understanding the complexities
involved in expanding a business globally.
The best part of the immersion was the opportunity to work
closely with business students and a real world client. It was a great chance
to face the scrutiny of clients who actually depended on our analysis and
proposals to make decisions that might have major implications for their
company and stakeholders. It was also especially illuminating to see the
different perspectives that different disciplines such as City Planning, Public
Policy, and Engineering can bring to business problems.
Another highlight of the program was our treks to New York
City and Washington D.C. During our trek, we visited multiple organizations to
see what they were doing at the frontiers of sustainability. Some highlights
included the NYC Metro Transit Authority, several tech startups, and an impact
investing firm. I gained exposure to many different and exciting initiatives in
the world of sustainability that I had never heard of before.
I would highly recommend that more non-johnson students take
advantage of the SGE opportunity, especially if they have an interest in
understanding the role that the private sector can play in promoting social,
economic and/or environmental sustainability.