Do What You LoveWilliam Sapon (MBA '17) took his passion for the environment and turned it into his career.
// Alumni Feature
William Sapon (MBA ‘17) took his passion for the environment and turned it into his career. When he was a student at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the sustainability certificate program, sustainability courses, and the Center for Sustainable Business were all just concepts being developed. Four years later, Pitt Business has moved toward teaching, working, and learning with sustainability in mind.
“Oftentimes, our passions aren’t covered much in business school because they typically can’t be quantified.”
“Oftentimes, our passions aren’t covered much in business school because they typically can’t be quantified,” says Sapon. “But now, the world that we’re moving toward with climate issues alongside other issues we’re seeing globally are impacting not only business but our personal lives. What’s exciting is that we’re starting to see all of these changes and come up with solutions that require collaboration.”
Sapon was vocal about his passion for combating climate change and because of that he’s started conversations and opened doors for others across the University. Now, Sapon serves as a senior advisor of clean energy and transportation at Peoples Natural Gas, an essential utilities company, in Pittsburgh. When he learned that CB Bhattacharya, H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics, also had a passion for sustainability he decided to connect with him. Bhattacharya invited Sapon to the brainstorming session held for what is now the Center for Sustainable Business.
“William showed up to the session as an alumnus which showed how driven he was to make the school a better place,” says Bhattacharya. “That was really the beginning of our partnership with him.”
The Center for Sustainable Business’ mission and vision aligned with Sapon’s personal values, but also aligned perfectly with the work he was doing in his role at Peoples Natural Gas.
“Since then, he’s helped us secure a corporate sponsorship with Peoples, celebrated the official launch of the Center for Sustainable Business, and has overall just been an incredible partner,” says Bhattacharya.
Sapon was a driving force behind the founding partnership between the center and his organization, which he credits to conversations with leadership at Peoples to point out the value in partnering with the University of Pittsburgh for a great cause.
His role at Peoples allows him to educate consumers on renewable energy and decentralized power generation, which is the transformation of the traditional “one-way street” energy carried by utility lines into a multi-directional method with new technologies like hybrid fuel cell, wind and solar systems.
“Consumers are becoming more aware of where their energy comes from,” says Sapon. “More are opting to build and install their own solar panels, wind turbines, and distributed energy resource technologies to generate energy on-site. We’re not just selling products. We’re selling concepts and ideas—that you can generate your power sustainably and efficiently in a cost competitive way.”
Sapon says he’s most excited that college campuses and hospital systems are beginning to implement more sustainable initiatives. He is able to continue to share his experience and knowledge with corporate partners, fellow alumni, and current students through the Center for Sustainable Business and as a board member of the Business Alumni Association.
“Alumni like William represent the best of what the school has to offer,” says Bhattacharya. “They are some of the most important stakeholders because they know what it’s like to be a student, how to engage with the school after they graduate, and serve has ambassadors for their own companies—giving us an inside look at their careers.”