A band of ethical MBA students from CEIBS named themselves ‘The Decarbonators’ and set out to make CEIBS the first carbon neutral business school in Asia in 2010. Their mission was a success.
We caught up with them to find out how they did it and what they are up to now!
The group of CEIBS MBA 2010 classmates had the idea as part of their Responsible Leadership Project but the idea was so successful that it led to an international award on responsible leadership and a grant for the project. In April 2011, the Decarbonators 2010 team received the prestigious "Responsible Leadership Award and Grant" at the Graduate Business Forum in Barcelona, Spain.
The team wanted to calculate the carbon footprint of the school and create a plan to off-set (and reduce) the greenhouse gas emissions. This project was to test all of the skills they had been taught in their MBA class, from business strategy, HR, marketing, innovation, project management and a hefty dose of maths.
For measuring the carbon footprint the team were lucky to have teammate Dr Robert Seiler who has a prestigious scientific background – a PhD in Physical Chemistry from MIT and ETH and years of experience as an environmental consultant throughout Europe.
I spoke to two of the Decarbonators, Anchit Goel, 24 and Caroline Lee, 30, who are the next generation of this inspiring project.
Anchit is from New Delhi in India and pre-MBA worked for the India China Economic & Cultural Council before setting up his own NGO providing elementary education to children of migrant workers in New Delhi.
Caroline was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Toronto. Trained as an architect from Carnegie Mellon University she has worked in Pittsburgh, New York and Tokyo.
When I ask why they chose CEIBS both answer that they wanted to learn more about China and how business is done in this rapidly developing nation. Anchit says “I chose CEIBS because of its unique value proposition of ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’, which no other business school can provide.” Caroline was attracted by the schools focus on responsible leadership and sustainability and the chance to work on a Responsible Leadership Project. “This project provides us the opportunity to come up with a business plan or work directly with companies in China to solve a responsible leadership challenge.”
They are rightly proud to be part of team Decarbonators 2011. Caroline explains that they “competed against three other student teams among our classmates for the honour of being tasked with ensuring that CEIBS measures its carbon footprint for 2011 and offsets this in order to attain carbon neutrality for another year. The judges among competing teams were the initial Decarbonators plus CEIBS administrators involved with the project.”
Anchit is specifically focusing on the external initiatives and communications, including the CEIBS Forest in Mongolia, “increasing the visibility of the initiative within China and globally, and developing more partnerships with relevant organisations in this field.”
Caroline is the internal initiatives director; “I am responsible for activities on campus that can make our school greener. Because of my background, I am looking into more energy efficient HVAC systems, lighting, rubber seals, motion sensors and solar panels that can improve the performance of the buildings on campus…we hope to push our sustainability effort not only within the current campus but also for the new campus under construction and the Beijing campus soon.”
Decarbonators 2011 have an objective of forming a “Green Campus Coalition” with other business schools in China and Asia. “Starting with Shanghai, we are working on collaborating with students in other b-schools, introducing the concept of carbon neutrality to them and guiding them on how to make their own campus carbon neutral.”
This project will contribute towards both Anchit and Caroline’s post-MBA career goals. Anchit would like to work in China for a few years before “creating a platform for Indian and Chinese businesses, especially small and medium enterprises to come together, do business and learn from each others’ experience in areas of manufacturing, technology sharing and sustainable business practices.”
Caroline would like to work in real estate developments or sustainability consulting in China. “I believe that the global trend on environmental sustainability is unstoppable and will only grow stronger in China in the future. This will be an industry with lots of business opportunities and I want to be a part of this sustainable effort.”
This duo and the rest of the Decarbonators 2011 are making a difference and really putting into practice the notion of sustainable business.