A Fond Fellowship Experience

by Zachary Lutz

I always knew that I wanted to pursue my MBA, and as I saw our reality begin to shift in early March 2020, I decided that now was the best time to pursue my graduate degree. I began searching for MBA programs and was thrilled to discover that one of the top-ranked programs in the country was in Pittsburgh. After being enticed by the one-year format, I applied even though I had very little experience in the world of sustainability.

Shortly after sending in my application, I was honored to learn I was granted admission to this fantastic program. However, a few days after my initial admission, I was stunned to receive a call from Chris Rouhier, Director of Graduate Admissions, with the news that I had been awarded the Eugene P. Beard Fellowship and that I would be working directly with Dr. Robert Sroufe. It only took one quick Google search to realize the magnitude of this opportunity as I would be working alongside an internationally recognized Professor of Sustainability for an entire year. This is when I became nervous as I didn’t know what I could bring to the table for my fellowship, especially knowing that this experience would be virtual.

Dr. Sroufe has grown my knowledge of sustainability, business supply chains, and the healthy building movement more than I had ever anticipated. This experience, more than anything else in this program, has opened my eyes to the importance of every business integrating sustainable practices into their business model. It also allowed me to recognize the importance of promoting sustainability and how a lack of education regarding sustainable integration is the biggest hinderance to creating necessary change. My initial lack of knowledge within the world of sustainability actually turned out to be an asset as I was able to bridge the gap and promote Dr. Sroufe’s books and publications to a larger audience. It has been very rewarding to see Dr. Sroufe be recognized for his work by being interviewed on podcasts, featured on blogs, and quoted in articles.

This fellowship gave me the freedom to research the best practices of some of the largest multinational companies in the world and investigate their sustainable business practices. This freedom allowed me to explore specific areas of interest to me and identify possible gaps in their current sustainable business practices, more specifically their sustainable supply chain operations. Ultimately, this in-depth process has allowed me to identify specific industries, companies, and even certain company characteristics that I have prioritized during my job search.

When I reminisce on that initial call from Chris, I never would have imagined how much it would change my life. The opportunities and learning experiences this fellowship has provided me with has had a profound impact on shifting my view of the business world and has certainly reimagined my professional career aspirations. It has been an honor to work alongside Dr. Sroufe throughout this program. I will fondly remember this experience as a great end to my academic career.