Mba career options in sustainability


According to recent figures, for example the QS TopMBA. com Applicant Survey, an increasing number of MBA applicants in the 21st century are keen to choose a ‘good’ job, a career path that would allow them to use their skills to help make the planet a better place. But the same people, as MBA graduates, may look at their debts and wonder how they can balance their desire to get into the field of sustainability but also make some money?

The good news is that there are lots of options. According to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, “Millions of new jobs are among the gold-plated linings on the cloud of climate change.” He says that there are several sectors likely to create jobs, including clean energy and clean technologies, sustainable agriculture, ecosystem infrastructure and sustainable cities including planning transportation and building. But the growth of sustainable jobs goes beyond those associated with climate change. There is an increasing number of opportunities available to graduates across sectors and industries.

Range of options

Many graduates looking to move into a more socially responsible career look at options in NGOs, not for profits or international organizations. Several of these organizations now work directly with the business sector on sustainability issues. Forum for the Future, based in London, works with businesses on their sustainability strategies. The World Wildlife Federation, an international conservation organization, has a division focused solely on working with business and industry.

Graduates can also choose to explore career opportunities in the growing world of international sustainability standards and networks in which the business sector is active. This includes the International Fair Trade Organization, the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies paper and wood products from responsibly managed forest sources and the Global Reporting Initiative, an organization that works on setting standards for sustainability reporting.

Christine Dandy at the career services office at London Business School in the United Kingdom is responsible for government and not for profit jobs. She says that that there is definitely an interest increase in not for-profit-jobs not just with MBA and executive MBA students but also with the executive MBAs. “Many executive MBAs are very interested in switching to a career in not –

for – profit. The feedback I get is that they’ve succeeded in the corporate world and are looking to give back during the second half of their career.” She does acknowledge that the salaries are lower, ” As for salary, they are almost all less than the typical finance and consulting roles. However, some of them are comparable to salaries in FMCG, retail and other industry sectors.”

Within industry there has been a significant increase in sustainable career options recently which are more in line with the salaries graduates expect post graduation. In fact as more companies choose to take sustainability seriously, they are offering a wider range of jobs in this area, either within a sustainability department or within units of the business that are working on sustainability related issues. However not all of these jobs have the word green or sustainability in the job title so they are not always easy to find.



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Mba career options in sustainability