Mansoor Baloch recognizes that those interested in sustainable business practices sometimes get labeled as "tree huggers."
But that's an oversimplification, he says. "I think that businesses can create value for consumers and shareholders while incorporating the principles of sustainability and social responsibility. There's value for everyone in pursuing the triple bottom line."
Awareness of that triple bottom line (profit, people, and planet) is something Baloch would like to see further incorporated throughout curricula of Scheller College programs.
"Consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues, so there is an ever growing sense of urgency in the business world to minimize harm to society and the environment. I want to play a leading role."
Leading the Way
Baloch has already gotten deeply involved, serving on a student committee supporting the College's new Center on Business Strategies for Sustainability. What's more, he's the 2013-2014 president of the College's Net Impact chapter (which recently earned Gold Standing from the national organization).
Net Impact has more than 300 chapters worldwide, including 40,000 students and professional leaders who are focused on creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and world. Tech's Net Impact chapter brings sustainability leaders to speak on campus, enters teams into national sustainability case competitions, and promotes social responsibility by helping organize the Pro Bono Consulting course, which supports nonprofit organizations.
Baloch says that his interaction with business leaders to date have taught him that “sustainability doesn’t have to be limited to one department. Like ethics, sustainability should just be part and parcel of everything you do. Sustainable perspectives are important to every area, from strategy and operations to marketing and finance.”
Baloch's interest in the environment far predates his MBA studies. He hails from Balochistan, one of the least developed provinces of Pakistan. That region has lacked the infrastructure to reliably provide clean drinking water to many of its residents. Working on projects in the most rural parts of Balochistan as a civil engineer for a state oil company after college graduation really opened his eyes to the full magnitude of the problem.
"That's why I pursued my PhD in environmental engineering," says Baloch, who earned his doctorate from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey.
"The technology is available to provide access to clean drinking water, but we must devise the incentives for the public and private sectors to get those technologies to the people who need them most. I came to Tech so that I could better understand the process of spreading those technologies through innovative business models."
Previously, Baloch worked for five years as an environmental engineer at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where he researched drinking water systems and the fresh produce industry, studying contamination issues. "I decided to pursue an MBA to find ways to better translate research into value creation for business."
During summer 2013, he had the opportunity to put his growing business knowledge to work as a sustainability analyst for Ingersoll Rand's Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. He helped to identify and implement sustainability projects on the basis of financial returns and environmental impact. He was one of the 115 Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows, a network of tomorrow's leaders in sustainability and energy management with the skills and passion to make a difference.
After graduation in spring 2014, he will join Bank of America's two-year Operations MBA Program for leadership development. He hopes to eventually contribute to the success of Bank of America's 10-year, $50 billion initiative to address issues related to the environment.