Innovating for the Long Term: Sustainable Enterprise in NYC
by Crosby Fish, MBA ‘18
In early March, the entire Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion 2017 cohort descended on New York City to visit seven very different organizations that are engaging with sustainability issues in a wide variety of ways.
In early March, the entire Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) Immersion 2017 cohort descended on New York City to visit seven very different organizations that are engaging with sustainability issues in a wide variety of ways. This trip (or ‘Trek’ in SGE Immersion parlance) gave our cohort the opportunity to see how the sustainability strategies and philosophies that we’ve discussed in the classroom are being implemented in practice. Just as importantly, it gave us the chance to come together as a cohort in such unlikely ways as rushing to catch a train or applauding a classmate’s karaoke rendition of the Destiny’s Child classic, “Say My Name”.
This year, the Trek visits included FreshDirect, Greyston Bakery, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Frog Design, Citibank, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Basketball Association (NBA). If you’re anything like me, you might be thinking that this list is as eclectic as they come, or wondering what the NBA has to do with sustainability. After all, a small design consulting firm like Frog Design and a massive public benefit corporation like the MTA could hardly be more different. Each of the people that we spoke with wrestled with different social or environmental goals alongside (or along with) the core function of their organization. Hearing from them allowed me to not only grasp the intricacy of the issues that we’re discussing in the SGE Immersion, but also to picture what they could mean for my own career after school. After the fact, I am 100% confident that the learning value of the Trek came through the diversity of perspectives that we obtained from such an unexpected mix of organizations.
While I could eagerly share interesting takeaways from each company visit, I found our meeting at the NBA headquarters to be particularly impactful for three reasons. First, in a year that has seen other professional sports leagues dragged, kicking and screaming, into the political arena, it was interesting to hear about the ways that the NBA has channeled their own company values into support for their players. Second, I was curious to hear about the ways that the NBA thinks about, invests in, and shapes the social and cultural impact of their celebrities. Finally, I’m a sucker for authenticity, and the people that we met did not seem to shy away from the fact that the issues that they face are hard. They skipped the sound bites (of which I’m sure there are plenty) and shared the struggle.
The nuance and depth of our Trek meetings in New York is par for the course in the SGE Immersion. As my peers and I plug away at the sustainable business projects that our clients have given us, these real-world touchpoints prove how relevant our work actually is.