As part of our Green MBA Success Series, I am interviewing Green MBA graduates to uncover what steps they took to transition to green careers using their degrees. Meet Nancy Shaw, Social Responsibility Manager for Blue Shield of California. She currently serves on the Advisory Council of Business Council on Climate Change and was recently a speaker at the Women in Green Forum. She also recently served on the Executive Committee of The 2009 Hazon Sustainable Food Conference.
Prior to transitioning to a career in corporate social responsibility, Nancy had a successful career in the non-profit sector and marketing. In the role of Grants & Program Manager for the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, she analyzed grant proposals that led to nearly $9 million in funding. As Nonprofit Director for Craigslist, Nancymanaged strategic planning, board development and fundraising, as well as produced venture events connecting nonprofits with potential funders. Before going into the non-profit sector, she was a marketing strategy analyst for both HBO and RR Donnelley. She also directed Fortune 500 companies market research studies for Wetfeet. Before going into the non-profit sector, she was a marketing analyst for HBO, RR Donnelley and Wetfeet. Read about how Nancy changed her career path to a green one with an MBA in sustainability. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
by Tracey de Morsella, Green Economy Post
Q. What are the responsibilities of your job?
A. One of the aspects that makes my job interesting is the wide range of responsibilities. I get to work on varied projects requiring different skill sets on any given day, including corporate social and environmental responsibility strategy, communications, employee engagement, public policy, and representing the company in business leadership groups.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. Helping to make a meaningful difference at my company, both in reducing its own environmental impact and involving employees who are passionate. I also really value the partnerships with other organizations, like Business Council on Climate Change, which enable my company to have a magnified impact through working with others.
Q. Green MBA Program Attended/Year Completed:
A. MBA in Sustainable Management, Presidio Graduate School, 2008
Q. What, if any additional certifications, training, degrees do you have that have helped you in your obtaining a position in the sustainability/green section?
A. I don’t have any further sustainability training, but I think that LEED and facilities-related expertise is especially helpful for those in this sector. [See A Guide To Becoming A LEED Green Associate]
Q. Why did you decide to make a career change into sustainability?
A. I worked primarily in nonprofits and philanthropy prior to going to business school. I decided to get an MBA in sustainability to develop the expertise to work on climate change, and to make it easier to transition to the for-profit world if I wanted to in the future.
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Q. What steps did you take that were the most effective in helping you make the transition to a career in sustainability?
A. Probably best for my resume were MBA projects with large companies such as Williams-Sonoma. Companies want to see what you’ve actually done. Other than that, I focused on transferable skills like project and program management, while emphasizing the specialized sustainability knowledge that companies need to have in-house today but often lack. I also find that attending conferences, keeping up with sustainability news and networking with peers in the field is very helpful to stay on top of what’s innovative now – this is a field where the bar is constantly raised.
Q. What are your long term career goals?
A. I want ensure that natural resources are protected for future generations. My career goal is to have meaningful work that is effective in doing that, and allows for personal sustainability – having time and space for family, friends, community and myself – as well.
Q. Please share any additional thoughts that you feel might be helpful to someone seeking to make this type of career transition.
A. First, any job can be a green job. Sustainability touches every function in a company, so see if you can identify a green project in your current role. That also adds green experience to your resume. Internships and volunteer projects are great ways to get real experience as well. If you want to move into a particular field of sustainability (renewable energy, organic food, sustainable international development, corporate sustainability, etc.), you often don’t need an expensive degree – attend conferences, seminars, network and read websites to educate yourself on the cheap.
Join us each week as we introduce to sustainability professionals who used a green MBA to make a green career transition. If you have a green MBA, have successfully transitioned into a career in sustainability, and would like us to spotlight you in the Green MBA Success Series, drop me a line. Don’t forget to check out our entire Green MBA Success Series and our Green MBA Directory.
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