An Unplanned Competitive Advantage

by Cara Mia Manzella

It is truly amazing how many of today’s great business leaders stumbled upon their profession. I’m hopeful I can join that crowd. Because 12 short months ago, I was not even aware of sustainable business or what it even truly meant.

In my senior year of college, I was looking to get my master’s and I strongly considered a different program that I thought I was fit for. But when exploring my options, I became very intrigued with Duquesne’s MBA in Sustainable Business Practices Program (MBA-SBP) due to its impressive reputation and the fact I enjoyed my undergraduate experience at Duquesne. The program resonated with me not because of my knowledge of sustainability nor the environment – since I frankly didn’t know much, but because I connected it back to Corporate Social Responsibility, which was an area of business I was passionate about. Little did I know, this program was about to give me the most diversified and unplanned competitive advantage in the marketplace that I didn’t even know I was looking for.

The MBA-SBP program is about developing responsible business leaders of tomorrow, those that can carry out the fiscal and legal responsibilities of a business while being mindful of social, economic, and environmental problems. This means minimizing all avoidable harms and even better yet, making a positive impact. What I didn’t realize was how hand and hand business and sustainability go. The late Ray Anderson, ranked America’s Greenest CEO, said best that the biggest culprit of the massive mistreatment of Earth is business and industry. Further, it is the only institution that is able to lead humankind out of the mess that we have created for ourselves.

Sustainability is more than just an opportunity to be responsible; it is an advantageous business position. In fact, an analysis of the Fortune 500 companies proved that businesses engaging in sustainable efforts perform better than those who do not. To illustrate the strength of it, while companies have been suffering throughout the pandemic, on average, sustainability-marketed products saw a growth in sales. Additionally, consumers are demanding more accountable and sustainable companies and businesses will be able to better satisfy these needs by going beyond just making a profit. But with these shifting consumer demands comes an increased demand for sustainability experts like my classmates, myself, the program alumni, and the future MBA-SBP candidates. As a member of this program, I look forward to being able to serve this need and I am grateful that my personal journey led me to where I am today.