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Taipei Girl Wants Asia To Go Green

Exeter One Planet MBA Karen Huang says sustainability must go mainstream if Asia is to keep growing

By  Ifeatu Nnaobi

Tue Mar 20 2012

Taiwanese Karen Huang left the exuberant city of Taipei to spend a year working on a sustainable growth plan for Asian cities on the University of Exeter One Planet MBA.

The self-professed city girl spent all her life in Taipei growing up in the care of her mother before getting married.

Last September, Karen enrolled on the University of Exeter One Planet MBA after six year of working in the maritime industry. Karen had worked as an Assistant Manager for shipping firm Evergreen Line in Taiwan.

Evergreen Line has a good sustainability track record. The firm is committed to using the latest technology to minimize the impact of container shipping on marine life, port communities and other natural habitats.  When Karen sought to take her career forward, she naturally did not want “any ordinary MBA”.

“The turning point in my interest in sustainability was one of the projects Evergreen was running. It was an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) project to introduce mechanisms on ships to record and monitor their emissions”, says Karen.

While researching business schools she discovered that Exeter's One Planet MBA has some of the leading research faculty on the business impact of climate change, some of who are involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Karen was also keen on studying in the UK because she did her undergraduate in English Literature and really wanted to experience the culture.

She made the decision to leave Taipei for a year in Exeter. Karen says that sustainability as an idea has not really gone mainstream in Asian countries, especially China, so she’s hoping to make a big difference on her return. 

Since joining the One Planet MBA, Karen has been working on a long-term plan to get more people and communities involved in sustainable business and sustainable living. She says, “Sustainability is the future so it would be nice to get more people from Asia involved so it can really go mainstream”.

Recently, she’s been focused on food which is a very basic but highly crucial economic activity. Karen says that even though much of Taiwan is urbanized, agriculture is still one of the most important economic activities. “I would like to start with food because it's something so close to people and that can change their lives”, she says.

She’s working on a system to ensure that local people in Taiwan have more information about how they source what they eat and how to make the process more sustainable.

Karen says that the experieince of sharing and gaining new ideas from the One Planet MBA through group work and conversations with colleagues has been incredible.

She’s even been able take time of her busy schedule to visit Finland and Iceland, where she saw the Northern Lights. “You have to be really close to nature otherwise you won’t know the importance of protecting it”, says Karen.

Over the spring break, she has planned trips to Austria, Slovenia and Croatia with her husband. There she hopes to reconnect with nature and get some rejuvenation before putting the final touches to her getting Asia green venture.