Sustainable Global Enterprise – An Experience in Combining Perspectives

by Sheffin Joseph, MRP ‘15

Sheffin Joseph, MRP ‘15

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 itprovides students to go outside their department and “immerse” themselves in differentfields of study. One such opportunity is the Sustainable Global EnterpriseImmersion (SGE) at the Johnson Graduate School of Business. An immersion can bethought of as an experiential learning project for business students that givesstudents a chance to work with real world clients on consulting projects. SGEspecifically focuses on projects that have some mix of social, economic and/orenvironmental goals. The SGE immersion is available to non-Johnson students andselection is based on a competitive application. As a master’s student in CityPlanning, SGE gave me a great opportunity to work with students from a varietyof backgrounds on a real consulting project.

Each of the non-Johnson students are placed in a team of 2-3Johnson students with a unique client and project. The clients range from smallstart-ups and non-profits to large multi-national corporations. The projects arealso quite diverse. For instance, my team worked on a project to determine thebest country to locate a manufacturing facility in the Asia-Pacific region fora benefit corporation. In order to create a recommendation, we had to addressmany criteria including labor conditions, wages, tariffs, and taxes among manyothers factors. It was a great experience in understanding the complexitiesinvolved in expanding a business globally.

The best part of the immersion was the opportunity to workclosely with business students and a real world client. It was a great chanceto face the scrutiny of clients who actually depended on our analysis andproposals to make decisions that might have major implications for theircompany and stakeholders. It was also especially illuminating to see thedifferent perspectives that different disciplines such as City Planning, PublicPolicy, and Engineering can bring to business problems.

Another highlight of the program was our treks to New YorkCity and Washington D.C. During our trek, we visited multiple organizations tosee what they were doing at the frontiers of sustainability. Some highlightsincluded the NYC Metro Transit Authority, several tech startups, and an impactinvesting firm. I gained exposure to many different and exciting initiatives inthe world of sustainability that I had never heard of before.

I would highly recommend that more non-johnson students takeadvantage of the SGE opportunity, especially if they have an interest inunderstanding the role that the private sector can play in promoting social,economic and/or environmental sustainability.