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Student Who Waited Eight Years For A Sustainable MBA

Manuel Trindade first took the GMAT in 2003 but wasn’t interested in a typical MBA and so he waited until the University of Exeter One Planet MBA programme was launched

Manuel Trindade began investigating MBA programmes nearly a decade ago but did not settle for one until he learned about the University of Exeter One Planet MBA.

The One Planet MBA aims to broaden and deepen students’ understanding of business while exploring innovative sustainable strategies. Launched in September 2011, it offers programmes in both full-time mode, and executive mode for those who want to remain working while studying.

Portuguese national Manuel enrolled on the programme after accumulating a significant amount of work experience internationally in both multinationals and NGOs in fields as diverse as facilities management, customer service and outsourcing, event management, human resources and training and quality management. He is also a multi-linguist and is fluent in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

Immediately prior to the One Planet MBA, Manuel worked as Facilities Manager for Fujitsu Technology Solutions in Portugal. Now, at the final stage of the full-time programme, we speak to Manuel to find out if his wait for the perfect sustainable programme has been worth it. We also get a teaser of what One Planet MBAs themselves are doing to live sustainably.

You’ve worked in so many places including Angola and Cambodia,how did you end up in some of these places?
I went on an exchange year during my undergraduate in Glasgow and after that I knew I wanted the experience of working abroad so once I finished my degree I took a job in Amsterdam with Sykes Entreprises, an outsourcing firm. After nearly two years I was transferred to the Paris Office.

Taking the job in Angola was something I did because I knew some Angolans in Portugal and a friend of a friend mentioned the opportunity with an oil company Total to me. My parents lived in Angola when they were younger so I was curious about it. Adjusting to life over there was difficult at first because everything was new but after a while I came to appreciate life there. During my time there I really got to see the impact that unsustainable practices have on ecosystems.

Cambodia I first went to while I was working in Angola. We had 43 days of holiday each year and so I went to work with an educational NGO in Battambang Cambodia. Before this I had volunteered with several causes. In 2008, I was invited to organize the International Circus Festival, Tini Tinou in Cambodia. It was an experience I would gladly take on again.

What made you consider getting an MBA?
In my career, I’ve moved laterally experience wise rather than vertically. I felt there was a disconnect between my level of experience and the position I was in. I know former colleagues from companies I worked in years ago who are now directors or CEOs. I felt the MBA would give me the chance to aim for higher positions.

I took the GMAT in 2003 and made a shortlist of schools I might apply to but at that point Exeter was not on the list. I held back because I didn’t want the standard MBA

Another factor is that I like learning and wanted to keep learning and the knowledge I’ve gained from the One Planet MBA is exactly what I wanted. I found out about the One Planet MBA through a friend who saw an ad at Bristol Airport. I went to the website, visited the school and spoke with the director. I immediately realized it was the perfect match.

If today was the last day of the programme, what would be your most significant takeaway?
The entire experience has been fascinating so its hard to choose one. Because I’ve had an international life and career and enjoy being in an international atmosphere I’m enjoying being able to meet with people and dialogue with them. I also appreciate the quality of lecturers and speakers we have here and I’m glad the course itself has not been business as usual. We’re all still learning and I like that there is not one defined way of doing things.

Can you share some of your post MBA plans with us?
Once I’m done here I plan on going on a meditation retreat in France. After that I’ll focus on trying to find a job. I would like to work in one of three areas: International Organizations such as UNEP, UNDP, EU or EC or the World Bank; NGOs such as WWF, Oxfam, Bird Life or RSPB; or with an environmental consultancy. I haven’t started applying for jobs now because I’m more concerned with getting the right role rather than just getting any job. If I move too fast, I may lose a better opportunity. I would like to find something that I be stable in and also grow.

What are One Planet MBAs doing to live sustainably as students?
As students we’ve been involved in several projects for the homeless and with the National Trust, a UK conservation charity that protects historic places and green space. We also have a project called the reuse programme which is about promoting a policy of reducing waste. We’re trying to get people not to buy things they don’t need, and to reuse as much as possible.

I’ve been working on an energy saving initiative as part of the UK National Union of Students (NUS) ‘I am the Change Challenge’. We’ve been working on a scheme that involves turning ensuring IT equipment at universities are turned off overnight. A lot of them stay on and this take up so much energy.

Personally, I recycle, walk or ride my bike, shop locally and eat in season. These are basic things but they were things I didn’t practise religiously before.

What would your ideal world look like?
No wars, no crime, people love each other and cooperate with each other. This might be considered a boring world but I don’t think it is. It would be amazing to have people live in harmony with nature and with each other.

You’re currently working on your MBA project, can you tell us a bit about this?
We were presented with sixty or so projects to choose from ranging from working with the Environment agency, drugs project, working with the NHS, or companies like Nokia or La Farge, or Virgin Atlantic

My consulting project is with WWF UK and we’re working on an idea called Green Game-Changers, a follow-up from a report that was published by WWF last October. As part of the initiative, we’re working with a selection of innovative ways that can reduce the use of raw materials, restore natural resources and upscale renewable energy. My main task is to find out what projects will have the most potential for change. I’ll be working on an in-depth case study and presenting my findings at the end of the summer. 

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