The “business sense” of climate action was front and center at this year’s ClimateCAP summit for MBA students. The conference on climate, capital, and business was held February 24-25, 2023, at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Now in its fourth year, the event brought together over 300 MBA students, business leaders, and experts to address climate challenges and how businesses are working towards carbon reduction. The Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business provided small grants to 14 Scheller College of Business MBA students to cover most of their conference and travel expenses. In the paragraphs that follow, five 2023 MBA candidates provide testimonials about their experiences.
Scheller College MBA Students Discover the Business Sense of Climate Action at ClimateCAP 2023
“I have so many positive takeaways from ClimateCAP! To start, the keynote address from Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, had a great message. I appreciated Polman’s call for companies to strive to be regenerative. After all, it makes ‘business sense’: Businesses can’t operate in societies that fail. Also, it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many individuals who are excited by opportunities for climate action and who view sustainability as an important issue for business. As a Forté Fellow (for MBA students committed to advancing women in business) and as a vice president of Blacks in Business at Georgia Tech (MBA student organization), I truly valued another message that was shared by panelist Skyra Rideaux: We can’t separate social justice from efforts to address climate issues. Overall, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have made new connections and look forward to continuing sustainability conversations as I transition back into the workforce post-MBA.”
“This year’s ClimateCAP summit focused on the intersection of climate and innovation. I really enjoyed the interactive experiences. For example, I attended the Renewable Energy Project Finance Workshop in which I walked through the process of developing a financial model for utility-scale wind or solar projects. I also attended the Virtual Reality Climate Experience which gave me the chance to visualize the projected impacts of climate change around the globe. Overall, it was a fantastic event! I was thrilled to attend with my Scheller peers and to meet like-minded MBA students from programs across the country. We are all so grateful to the Center for supporting our attendance!”
“The message from ClimateCAP was clear: We need to change how businesses, governments, and society work to rapidly reduce greenhouse gasses and make a more sustainable planet. The challenge is: How do you do it? That’s where we, as MBA students, must step up to the challenge — to educate ourselves on how businesses can innovate for sustainability and to learn how to work together to accomplish a common goal. While it is easy to get pessimistic about the future of our world when we think about climate change, ClimateCAP reminded me that there are tons of other business leaders and MBA students who are driven to make a difference. This gives me hope and energy.”
“ClimateCAP 2023 provided two incredible days of networking with other MBAs who are passionate about sustainability, especially within the energy sector. The students at McCombs were lovely hosts and integrated Austin culture into the conference. They planned awesome sessions that reframed Texas from an oil and gas state to a hub for renewable energy innovation.”
“I came to Scheller College for my MBA to pivot in my career and to find an industry I could be passionate about. As it turned out, I rediscovered my passion for sustainability. In college, I worked on biodiesel projects, resided in a sustainability living/learning community, and majored in environmental science. As a result of my graduate school experience, I have learned about opportunities and impact in the renewable energy space – and I now know it is the career path for me. I am so fortunate to have attended ClimateCAP with my classmates this year. The conference increased my excitement for sustainability and interest in actions businesses must take to combat climate change. The hands-on education, networking, and panels featuring industry leaders was unlike anything I have experienced. Thank you to the Ray C Anderson Center for Sustainable Business and the Net Impact at Scheller College of Business - MBA Chapter for arranging this trip for us. It was an experience I will never forget.”