The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sustainable Business celebrates its three-year anniversary in October 2022 with ongoing commitments from 12 global and regional companies, a coalition dedicated to cleaner energy in the Ohio Valley, and expanded opportunities for students to drive the future of sustainability.
The Center, established in the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, has been working since 2019 to help companies and students learn how to leverage investments in sustainability. The anniversary is being commemorated on October 20, 2022, with presentations and discussions among community leaders and corporate executives with students, faculty, and staff from Katz and the Pitt community to further drive the commitment.
“Through innovative research, specialized education and training, and critical thought leadership, the Center helps companies learn how to leverage their investments in sustainability to generate better business and societal outcomes,” said CB Bhattacharya, the H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics who leads the Center. “We also are teaching graduate and undergraduate students to act as ethically responsible leaders. Students learn how companies manage their people, planet, and profit so that all stakeholders may benefit from a long-term approach to the relationship between business, society, and the environment.”
Committed Member Companies
The Center partners with member companies that are committed to investing in research and education on best practices and innovation in the field of sustainable business strategy. Since 2019, these partnerships have grown from seven to 12, spanning a wide range of industries.
The companies include (listed alphabetically): Accenture; Ansys; CONSOL Energy; Dick’s Sporting Goods; Enel; IBM; Ingevity; MSA Safety; Peoples; PPG; PITT OHIO; and Tarkett.
“I’m looking forward to continuing collaboration with the Center as they help facilitate the thought partnership Tarkett needs to work through our product emissions data and create actionable strategies for our journey forward,” said Roxane Spears, vice president sustainability North America at Tarkett.
Students Taking the Lead
At Pitt Business, students are taught how to be strong leaders in their industries and use business to create social good. A record-high eight students will participate in paid fellowships with partnering organizations this year. With an increasing percentage of MBA students taking the Sustainable Business Certificate and increasing interest from students in other programs, the Center created the Sustainable Business Micro-Credential to replace the Certificate, allowing a broader population of students access to this education.
“This generation of students has a high level of social awareness, challenging companies to be more socially responsible for what is and is not done,” Bhattacharya said. “Further education and opportunities for students in the field of business sustainability will give them the power to make changes early on in their careers.”
Aman Sardana (MBA, MS ‘23) has participated in two fellowships through the Center, one with HarbisonWalker International and a second with PITT-OHIO. He said, “My experiences with the Center have taught me not only about sustainability and how it is important for every facet of a modern-day business, but also how to best engage with a client and deliver quickly, charmingly, and effectively.”
Coalition for Financing Cleaner Infrastructure, Energy, and Jobs
The Center has been leading the creation of a strategic plan to address the overlapping challenges of climate change, social and environmental injustice, and economic challenges in the Ohio Valley. With a charitable donation and scientific support from the Enel Foundation in 2020, the Marshall Plan for Middle America (MP4MA) Roadmap aims to build a regional, multi-sectoral coalition of stakeholders to drive investment in infrastructure and energy diversification.
Since the launch of MP4MA, major milestones have included a co-facilitated workshop with Resilient Cities Catalyst and others in October 2021 about carbon transformation and climatetech, as well as an official side event in September 2022 at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum about how to organize the financing and people needed for this transition. The overall goal is for the Ohio Valley (including Upper Appalachia) to be a global leader in cleaner energy resources and circular economy practices, leading to healthier lives and better work for all.
Support from The Heinz Endowments
Through $1.17 million in seed funding from The Heinz Endowments, the Center has created five new positions including program managers and a center assistant to accelerate its mission and supporters.
“The Center’s collaborative strategies for guiding organizations toward more sustainable practices will help improve regional environmental quality, promote a higher quality of life and create a more prosperous future for all,” said Andrew McElwaine, vice president for sustainability at The Heinz Endowments. “We are pleased to support these important efforts to equip businesses with the knowledge and leadership needed to become more sustainable.”