After working as a sustainability consultant in the US, Californian Shannon Springer opted for the University of Exeter’s One Planet MBA because it embeds sustainability issues across the program.
Having spent her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying Communication and Spanish (with a year abroad studying in Barcelona) Shannon lived in Argentina working on sustainable development initiatives in Buenos Aires.
Shannon, 27, has had a long term interest in sustainability. “It has always been a core value, something I grew up with. I later majored in communication with an emphasis in Corporate Responsibility. I think that was an interesting point where I was struggling to see how business and sustainability would truly come together.”
After her year in Argentina Shannon realised she wanted to make a bigger impact and the way to do it was through working with big businesses. Shannon went to work for Saatchi & Saatchi S, a global sustainability consultancy, working for major companies to create and implement corporate sustainability initiatives. As Strategist and Global Program Manager she worked with brands across renewable energy, retail, ICT and automotive industries on their strategy development.
After two years in the company Shannon wanted to gain a broader and deeper business knowledge as “that is necessary to create new business models. I wanted to gain forensic insight into the fundamentals of business across all spectrums. To look at sustainability in a company you have to have a systemic view.”
Having looked at business schools in the U.S. such as Columbia, Stanford and Berkeley, “which all have great programmes and amazing people doing fantastic work, but I was looking for a more innovative approach that embedded sustainability into everything they do.”
Shannon wanted sustainability to be at the core of all operations and not just one module, “so when I found out about the launch of the new program at Exeter in partnership with WWF I spoke to the school and saw how they were infusing sustainability into their DNA and knew immediately it was for me.”
The One Planet MBA has been “an extremely innovative program, mindful of the transparency and collaboration necessary in business. I think that the core business curriculum - economics, marketing, finance, accountancy and operations - all react to this ethos.” The course looks at business through the “lens of a resource restricted world” and seeks realistic reactions to our responsibilities.
The mentality of the course is to challenge everything, the lecturers present “the implication that business as usual is dead and they are not going to be feeding us any answers.”
The One Planet MBA is “is focused on how we can drive businesses to prosper in harmony with society and the environment.”
With a room of 28 individuals from a wide range of industries and countries Shannon has found it inspiring and interesting to see the different points of view. Her background in sustainability is not common per se, “there are people who haven’t gone deep in these issues before and we are all bringing very different business and cultural opinions to the table.”
After her MBA Shannon sees herself working in a forward thinking company helping businesses transform. “I plan to continue at the intersection of marketing and sustainability, helping business reposition environmental and social challenges as platforms for growth.”