ALUMNI REFLECTIONS AND UPDATES - CLASS 2006
Zaid E. Azaizeh (Jordan). Frankly, BTH to me also means Broaden The Horizons... horizons of your thoughts, horizons of your social circle, horizons of your knowledge. broaden by living, broaden by experience, broaden by interacting with others.. that's what I feel BTH gave to me through its MSLS program.
The diversity of people and lectures in the program were a great inspiration in my life, and that inspiration is still growing and developing inside of me and I hope that it is also reflecting well towards my surroundings. During the program, I felt that the whole class entered the matrix, we have all taken the "Red Pill" and we were all the chosen ones. I guess we still are in some way or another! We were all bubbled up in one paradigm, we were seeing reality as it is, we were all real and honest and no masks, the whole class was united for a common interest and vision but everyone with their own ways. We all saw the same thing from different angles, even when we saw different things it was still for the same purpose, Sustainability. Again, "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is; you have to see it for yourself" that's what MSLS life is exactly like. I came back to UAE in August 2006; a couple of months after finishing up my MSLS degree.
Since September 2006 and to date, I have been working in an engineering consultancy firm as an infrastructure design engineer. I am involved in preparing master plans, and conceptual and detailed designs for water and wastewater infrastructure services of various kinds of developments such as residential, commercial, industrial, etc. These services include potable water and irrigation water distribution networks, sewerage and storm water collection systems. In the study and design processes, methods of water savings and recycling are incorporated; as an example the sewage collected is treated at plants to produce an effluent which is then used for irrigation of plantations and green spaces. I am proud to be part of the MSLS Alumni and would recommend the "Red Pill" to everyone!
Richard Blume (Australia). I was so impressed with my experience I decided to stay in Karlskrona and help the MSLS programme grow from its early start. Now I am working as a Research Associate at BTH and my work has taken me to the UK, the USA and China. I work with education (the MSLS programme and distance education), research around sustainable product innovation and implementation of the SSD framework within organizations. It takes a while to 'get it' but that framework is the most powerful methodology I've discovered for strategic planning towards sustainability. Organizations will increasingly seek it out as they struggle to comprehend and respond to the challenges that lie ahead.
For me the highlights have been joining a community of practice of strategic sustainability leaders and the global friendships that allow me to see the world with new eyes, and have hope.
Tamara Connell (Canada). After graduating from the programme, I got an initial contract with Vancity, working alongside the Sustainability Group on their climate change work. It was a fantastic experience for me and allowed me to dive into various aspects of consulting for a financial institution, especially since Vancity is such a leader when it comes to climate change and social responsibility. After one year there, I was offered a position with the MSLS programme, and have been at BTH since. My work here includes general programme support, co-ordination of the Strategic Management for Sustainability course, thesis supervision, and other projects, such as the development of a couple of distance courses and the Sustainability Bridge. I miss the great networking that tends to happen with alumni in Vancouver, but am also fortunate now to be rubbing shoulders with the future generation of MSLS change agents.
Melanie Dubin (United States). After spending a few perfect weeks traveling around the Mediterranean, I ran out of money and headed home to the US to begin the Job Search. I eventually established contact with a construction consulting firm in Seattle, with whom I've been working for one year. My role thus far has included
- Co-developed and am implementing a firm-wide sustainability program
- Sustainable building/LEED consulting
- Construction cost management
- Developing carbon management strategies for construction projects
- Working with cities to implement green building codes
The understanding of sustainability and how to apply it that I took away from the MSLS program has helped me to champion sustainability as necessary and relevent. First in the job interview (I had to convince folks I wasn't "just another idealistic environmentalist" - no, I am that plus strategic here's how !), then in the office, and now with developing our consulting services to make sure they offer a real and robust perspective of sustainability.
Alexandra Chuvarayan (Russia). Right after the graduation from MSLS I had a professional traning with "Forum for the Future UK" and the "Natural Step UK" which was an excellent opportunity for me as I learned about the public sector in the UK and other countries, and how sustainability issues are dealt "on the ground". I was into real life practices and it gave me the whole picture of those challanges and opportunities which arise on your way if you really WANT to make a difference. After the training in the UK, I came back to Russia with a vision of what I would like to do in the future, and the challange in my country is that sustainable development is not very widely communicated, which means we should start things from the very beginning.
Now I work as an Expert in Renewable energy sources in RAO UES (Russian Unified Energy Systems), a governmental organisation which is in charge of all the electricity sector of Russian Federation, which performs functions of the Ministry of Energy of Russian Federation to what concerns electricity.I am in charge of renewable energy projects working at the Renewable Energy department, and what is most interesting, one of my functions is to develop the legislative base for the new Federal Law of Russia "On Renewable Energy" - first law of this kind in our country. Alongside with that, we are having Wind power installations projects going on in various regions of Russian Federation and believe in the huge potential to realise after the adoption of the legistative base by the government.
Georges Dyer (USA). Georges continues to work a lot with Second Nature, but has been shifting his focus more to his work with Archie Kasnet ('05) at Aedi Group - a holding company with a portfolio of sustainability-oriented business, and an affiliated non-profit, Village Corps. The five Aedi businesses are in the real estate and technology sectors, and Village Corps will focus on poverty alleviation work around the world, with the first partner village in South Africa. All of the work is explicitly organized around the framework for SSD, and they're feeling hopeful, that despite (or because of) the economic crisis, investors and customers will see the value in this approach.
Michelle Dyer (Canada/USA). Michelle remains busy in her role as Vice President of Second Nature, a non-profit in Boston focused on education for sustainability at the college and university level. She has had great success at managing the rapid growth of this small, but effective organization. The Presidents' Climate Commitment remains central to her work, with 616 colleges and universities now committed to incorporating climate and sustainability issues into the educational experience of all students, and backcasting from climate neutrality in their campus operations - over 400 have measured and reported their carbon footprints so far, and full climate action plans are due for the original signatories in September - all reports are available at http://acupcc.aashe.org. She's also established a partnership with a major foundation to include green building principles as part of their construction grants and create a program to ensure that under resourced and minority-serving institutions are able to reap the benefits of building green.
Frederick Ebeneku-Anim (Ghana). The MSLS program offered me the opportunity to belong to a group with culturally diverse backgrounds with each one bringing something unique from their countries to share with others. Our courses and discussions in social sustainability especially facilitated this inter-cultural tolerance and respect which was evidently lacking in other programs in BTH. The initial challenges that this (cultural mix) provided and how we overcame them using dialogic leadership and other tools increased our enthusiasm, participation and provided the kind of learning that I believe equipped almost every one of us for working in international, multi-cultural settings.
I am currently a Group Special Asset Manager [GSAM] with Standard Chartered Bank, an international bank in Ghana. Though my current role does not in the main leverage my knowledge in Sustainability a la MSLS, it is comforting to work in an institution that focuses on sustainability instead of corporate social responsibility and understands that its long term financial performance depends on the social, economic and environmental conditions for growth. It is also important to point out that the leadership skills acquired from the MSLS program have been self-evident in my performance at work so far. My interpersonal relationships, dialogic approach to handling issues, effective communication and presentation skills speak for themselves.
The bank has labeled itself as a "force for good" and has been a signatory to the Equator principle and engages in Sustainability lending where we identify, evaluate and seek ways of mitigating social, environmental issues associated with lending. In line with its "Right Partner Leading by example wherever we operate" policy, the bank is commited to disbursing over US$500million to help alleviate the plights of the over 3billion people excluded from mainstream financial services.
On one hand too, I have been evolved in the grooming of the youth in my church, Etherean Mission. I have exposed a good number of them to an "envisioning" program informed mainly by my exposure to "backcasting" and the ABCD model. Plans are afoot to develop a handbook in this regard.
Ingrid Jacobson (United States). Housing and Solar Project Manager. Northern California Land Trust, GED teacher for Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Programm (TAPP), and Consultant for Equity Express program with Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, IL.
Since completing my Master's I have been trying to find the perfect balance in work and life. My major goal is to affect real systemic change in the public schools--in the meantime I am amassing my skills, and seeing where my existing skills can best be of use in my community. Currently I am working on finding ways to bring subsidized solar energy to non-profits and affordable housing developments using an innovative financial mechanism, and counseling first-time low-income home buyers to make home ownership a possibility for more people. Outside of work, I am finding ways to live as sustainably as possible, and finding that the joy comes from the simplicity.
Miriam Karell (United States). The MSLS program approaches education in a completely novel manner than most programs in the US: it teaches you primarily sustainability and weaves in business management, organizational learning, leadership and engineering. Therefore, you come out of the program fully understanding sustainability and systems thinking, which is critical for producing tangible change efforts in world. In my opinion, if you are not designing from a systemic perspective, then you are not designing for a regenerative and restorative economy and providing the best value to your clients. This program gave me the confidence to start my own sustainability consulting business, Three Point Vision.
I now work with small to medium businesses to develop sustainability strategic plans, assist "green teams" in green business certification, and analyze sustainability reports using The Natural Step. I also have designed a one-day seminar for organizational change leaders teaching them the fundamentals of sustainability, leadership development and systems thinking. There are many "Sustainability Director" positions opening up in companies and not many qualified people to fill those slots. If a graduate from this program became a "Sustainability Director", I would feel confident the company was in good hands.
Cesar Levy-França (Brazil). After graduation I worked as sustainability consultant and also promoting cooperation agreements among Brazilian organizations, Blekinge Institute of Technology and the Real Change International Research Program, aiming at strategic sustainable development in the Amazon rainforest. As part of these activities we are now planning for research development and for exchanging students and teachers at masters and PhD. levels. The MSLS program was of fundamental value for my professional career, opened doors for cooperation to happen, for the unique sustainability approach which provided also the opportunity to strengthen leadership skills within an international diversified cultural context, and for the credibility of doing it in Sweden a country that demonstrates strong commitments with sustainability issues.
Kate Maddigan (Canada). The skills and knowledge I gained from the MSLS program have been invaluable in much of the work that I do. I'm currently a management biologist for the Ontario government, where I provide advice on land use developments, including new wind turbine energy generation projects, and I work with farmers and landowners on biodiversity projects. I have also been involved in developing the local food industry in my community, and have participated in municipal sustainability planning. The MSLS program sharpen my skills and helped me build confidence in group decision-making, and giving presentations on complex topics these have been very important. But the program also improved my critical thinking skills, and I approach problems more strategically, using the knowledge gained on the sustainability principles, systems thinking, and tools like backcasting. The alumni network is also quite active, so the learning has continued well beyond the program!
Rachelle McElroy (Canada). After returning from Sweden to Canada, I launched greenBIZstrategies, a platform for sharing what I learned in the MSLS programme, to help forward sustainability in my community and, to continue learning and growing. In 2008, I became an Associate in training with The Natural Step Canada. greenBIZstrategies is now supported by an international network of TNS practitioners. My wish for the future is that individuals, businesses, non-for-profits and institutions act in a way that creates the community they want to live in and use the Natural Step Framework as their compass for guiding their journey.
Mauricio Mira (Costa Rica). After graduation, I moved around for about a year and then went back to Colombia, where I have my roots originally from, and started working on a business idea developed during the Masters in Sweden. The first months were difficult but in August 2007, I found some partners and Equilibrium Consulting Group was born. We started working officially on September 2007, and nowadays we are 7 people advising large corporations and institutions on the implementation of eco-efficient tools and sustainable strategies. We are strategic sustainable advisors to the greatest hospitals group of this region, where our eco-efficient recommendations have resulted in savings of over US$200,000 just for the first year.
We start by implementing eco-efficient innitiatives, and then move to the real transformation of the organization, trough the implementation of the TNS framework. We work on exiting management and control tools such as indicators to measure their progress towards sustainability. So far we had advised 4 companies, one nautical club, 6 clinics waiting to be 32 clinics, and ready to take more clients on their way towards sustainable development. The road to consolidate our company has been hard, but now is my reality and my project of life thanks to my experience on the MSLS Programme , an experience that has made me a real person of change, for which I will be always grateful.
Andrew Outhwaite (Australia). The rigour and depth of the MSLS program content, diverse perspectives and competencies of my peers, and the immersion in an innovative community all contributed to a transformational experience. Although I come from a natural sciences and community-based background, the early coursework gave the confidence to explore the role of networks and cross-sector partnerships between businesses and NGOs as my thesis.
This thesis work in turn fuelled my interest in social entrepreneurship and the power of business to do good, not just less bad. This lead me to London in 2006, where I worked with a social enterprise consultancy to grow great new green and ethical businesses. Later I worked as an independent consultant (Arising) with larger existing organisations to increase sustainable innovation, enable cultural change and facilitate cross-sectoral partnerships with charities.
After nearly four years overseas learning and experimenting, by 2008 I felt I had what was needed to lead long-term change in Western Australia. I took the sustainable route home via the Hallbarhet2009 event, and am now back near where I started: I am back in Geraldton, Western Australia working as the sustainability officer for the city. Through that official role, voluntary work and continuing collaborations with MSLS alumni, I plan to contribute to our transition towards a resilient, sustainable bioregion over the next decade.
Chris Walker (Canada). Since graduating in the Spring of '06 I have embarked on a new career path of teaching at St. Lawrence College in Ontario, Canada in the Energy Systems Technology programme. I began by teaching an 'Introductory course in Renewable Energy Technologies' and am currently teaching 'Government Policy and Renewable Energy'. The TNS approach has been invaluable in these courses for helping to frame discussion on society's choices for different energy options. I am also currently developing a new course for the college on 'sustainability' which will be offered to all departments starting next September (hopefully to be taught by yours truly). This is a daunting challenge and I am pleased to have the TNS framework to guide my approach. The MSLS experience was also a fabulous opportunity for connecting with great people from all over the world, especially my awesome sweetheart, Kate.