MBA-SBP Orientation Day Four

— Akash Verma,

Coming into the MBA Sustainable Business Practices program at Duquesne University, I was pretty confident, knowing the area, University, as well as some of the faculty, having done my undergrad at Duquesne where I majored in Finance. However, being two years removed from the academic setting, there will be an adjustment period as we begin our curriculum. I moved into a house in the Southside of Pittsburgh just last weekend with three other members of the cohort: Hayato, Connor and Luke. I am grateful that Jeff, the school’s Director of Admissions and Enrollment, introduced us back in March! I’m thinking that living with others that are going through the same program will allow us to bounce ideas off of each other in the consulting projects and will be great studying resources throughout the year.

On the fourth day, we were involved in the FishBanks Simulation developed by the MIT Sloan School of Management. We had to navigate a competitive financial environment where all four groups intended to make the largest profit and deal with a limited amount of fish in the sea. Our group decided to use all of our boats and fish in the deep sea, creating the greatest revenue for each boating company, but rapidly depleted the fish population. After only a few years, our yearly profits turned into large losses, and companies were going bankrupt. At the end of the simulation, we spoke as a group to see what we could have done better. The idea of working together came up, and I had doubts in my mind. We discussed in our group that even if we told the other teams that we were sending X boats out to sea and keeping X boats back in the harbor, there would be teams, maybe even all teams that would try to trick each other and still chase the largest profit. I think this shows the current way of thinking, and businesses that do not have significant sustainable efforts think. We need to change our way of thinking, to emphasize the importance, and the impact we have on all things around us.We need to change our way of thinking, to emphasize the importance, and the impact we have on all things around us.

Dr. Sroufe followed up the simulation by speaking on sustainability efforts by the City of Pittsburgh and himself as well. The cohort was in awe of what he has been able to accomplish by fitting his home with solar panels, creating enough energy to run his house, and managing all of his data while doing so.  We are all very excited to learn from him throughout the next eleven months.

Our afternoon session consisted of a Design Thinking session facilitated by Dr. Ciletti. We began by learning and working to identify the differences between observations and insights. Our teams were given two individuals and a booklet of their habits, and we had to come up with a listing of operations and insights for each. We then moved into a collaborative brainstorming session to come up with ideas that would help citizens in a city in California improve sustainability habits. Our group ultimately decided to suggest an app designed and developed by the city of Los Verdes to connect people to buy and sell used items. This app also advertises the quarterly community yard sale that will rotate between different areas within the city and create an event to teach community members about healthy sustainable efforts.

The fourth day was the last day of our orientation week, and I can see the cohort is already beginning to come together. The engagement level between groups is much higher and some of us are getting together outside of the classroom just to hang out. The next eleven months will sure be challenging, but I can already see how many individual improvements we are going to make alongside the positive impact we will be creating once this program is finished.