A Change in Career Strategy

The extent and degree to which global warming causes our climate to change is still unknown. While all qualified scientific organizations agree that greenhouse gas emissions are causing our planet to warm, there are various opinions about the influence they have had on rising temperatures and sea levels and dangerous storms. By making no political attempt to curb emissions, it is as if we are conducting a high-stakes science experiment with our planet. We'll keep pumping carbon into our atmosphere and see how the earth responds. While our planet's future hinges largely on whether domestic policies and international negotiations can ultimately be brought to bear, my future does not.

I entered George Washington University's Global MBA program (GWU Full-Time MBA Profile) planning to work at the intersection of business and policy, by helping organizations find opportunities and create business value in a new green economy based on an economic model that accurately captures the cost of environmental degradation in business processes. Now that a carbon price has met its political death due to the November midterm elections bringing a wave of climate deniers into Congress, I can no longer rely on my neighbors in Washington to set the necessary political agenda that would create employment opportunities for well-educated and well-intentioned business students like myself. I now need to change my career strategy. Working toward a solution to climate change is still among my top priorities, but my future career will probably not be created by an act of Congress. Instead, it will be created by me, and I'll have to be proactive within my extracurricular activities at GW and my search for a full-time job.

I believe that the silver bullet to combat climate change will be innovation. The development of a clean, cheap, reliable, and abundant source of energy will change the way we power our world. This silver bullet has not yet been developed, but I believe that within our lifetimes such technological advancement is possible. Universities can become a major laboratory for cultivating new ideas, as aspiring entrepreneurs gain the business, political, legal, global, and technological skills necessary to bring clean technologies to market. I'm part of a student effort at GW to create a launch pad for cleantech entrepreneurs and an opportunity to develop these skills.

Campus Cleantech Hub

A group of students across multidisciplinary graduate programs at GW are partnering with Cleantech U, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, to develop a hub for cleantech entrepreneurs on our campus. Our goal is to create interdisciplinary programming that breaks down the silos between our graduate programs by working with a student team to solve real business issues like access to capital, protection of intellectual property, or reaching new international markets. We are creating our own course, offered for credit by the university, which will include workshops on commercialization topics, guest industry speakers, and a consulting practicum with local entrepreneurs.

Also among my endeavors is the New Leaders project by Americans for Energy Leadership (AEL), which was founded on the premise that pragmatic young thought leaders, like yours truly, have a crucial role to play in developing and advancing new solutions to America's energy policy challenges. Young leaders offer a variety of important strengths, such as new and creative thinking to challenge conventional wisdom. My goal is to explore and identify the best policy options that provide businesses with the regulatory framework necessary to profitably drive environmental sustainability through innovation and education. I hope this project can help identify and advance energy legislation that would have bipartisan support and help modernize business models, strengthen national security, and position our country to lead in the development of cleantech innovations. I encourage all who are interested to read and join the discussion at leadenergy.org as we explore the future of our country's energy policy.

As I look toward my career options, I see several exciting possibilities within all sectors of the energy industry. I am interested in forward-thinking electric utilities that embrace changes brought on with new developments in energy efficiency, smart grids, electric vehicles, and renewable energy. To help drive this change, I am exploring career options at electric utilities, power producers, energy consulting firms, or in a regulatory oversight capacity. There are also several exciting startups that help provide solutions to utilities and other businesses which reduce consumer energy demand and consumption. I'm also contemplating applying my experience in energy efficiency by working internally within a large corporation's sustainability or energy reduction division. Finally, there are numerous opportunities to apply business skills to addressing environmental challenges in the public and nonprofit sectors. Throughout my MBA experience, I have focused on studying and applying innovative business-oriented solutions to combat climate change. By applying this same rationale to my career search, I'm finding there are many organizations that share my passion and a variety of career options that create business value and environmental responsibility.

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