Student Advisory Board Summer Experiences in Sustainability
A valuable part of the Center for Responsible Business team, The Student Advisory Board provides feedback, content and insights into ongoing projects and the Center’s long-term goals. This summer, Board members were hard at work redefining the status quo and bringing to life the values of social impact and sustainability. From real estate investing to Yosemite rock climbing and innovation at Tesla, each student brought their own experiences and knowledge to make a difference in the business world. Learn more about each member’s summer below.
Mikhael Abebe, MBA ‘18
This summer, I worked for Invesco Real Estate on their Underwriting & Acquisitions team in San Francisco. My team was focused on investing in commercial real estate assets throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. There, I was involved in everything from doing market tours, performing environmental due diligence, and conducting in-depth analysis of revenue and expenses in the process of ultimately coming up with a sound investment valuation.
David Cogswell, MBA ‘18
This summer, I joined Omidyar Network, an impact investment firm that provides venture capital and nonprofit grants to foster economic advancement and citizen empowerment globally. My team focused on investments in the civic tech sector, supporting organizations that either a) make the delivery of government services more efficient or b) better connect citizens to the public sector. As a summer associate, I led due diligence on two successful civic tech investments and developed a strategy for nonprofit grantmaking in the immigration rights space.
Shanna Hoversten, MBA/MPH ‘17
One of the many beauties of the dual MBA/MPH program is the fact that you get two summers before re-entering the “real world”. Having already spent last summer gaining the Silicon Valley start-up experience that I had sought in coming to UC Berkeley, I decided to take a more unconventional approach to summer #2. Instead of dedicating the summer to professional achievement, I decided to fully devote myself to a goal I’ve had ever since I picked up rock climbing seven years ago: climbing a Yosemite big wall. And so, for the past three months I’ve been travelling around the West in my Subaru, pushing myself to climb harder routes and learn the skills that I need for big walls. Next month it’s show time, and I’ll see if my work has paid off when my partner and I go first for the Northwest Face of Half Dome, and then the Nose of El Capitan.
Anne Kramer, MBA ‘18
Nike is a $34B company, with aspirations to grow to $50B by 2020. It sells an average of 120 million pairs of shoes each year, employs over a million factory workers across more than 570 contract factories, and accounts for almost a third of the global athletic footwear market. Along with its scale, Nike is often cited as being one of the most influential brands, especially among younger generations. Nike is a global leader and has the opportunity to take even more of a leadership role leveraging its brand influence for good.
This summer, I worked on Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation team whose goal is to deliver on the company’s ambitious target to double its revenue while halving its environmental impact. To do that, the S&BI provides data and support to drive collective action across Nike’s value chain, to the way Nike plans, makes, moves and sells product. I worked directly with the Manufacturing Revolution Team and provided them with sustainability data that allowed them to innovate new machinery and materials to help their factories use less of everything. For a stretch project, I informed the Nike intern class about Nike’s sustainability efforts, running workshops, panels and working sessions for all 200 interns, and working directly with 5 graduate interns to incorporate sustainability in their final projects. Finally, I created new sustainability content for the Nike recruiting team that I’m hoping will show up at Haas this fall.
My summer inspired me to continue a career in corporate sustainability – it’s easy to be inspired surrounded by smart, mission-driven people, and inspirational quotes like the one pictured below that I walked past every day on my way to my desk.
Maxwell Kushner-Lenhoff, MBA ‘18, CRB Fellow 16-17
This summer, I decided to take my career goal of “managing the commercialization of life-changing technologies” in a literal direction in the biotech industry. As a Corporate Finance Associate in Genentech’s Finance Rotational Development Program, I put into practice my ability to identify key performance indicators and develop finance-based decision making tools, skills that will be crucial as we look to tackle today’s sustainability challenges. Specifically, I developed analytics to drive budgeting decisions across Genentech/Roche’s multi-billion dollar late-stage R&D portfolio. My summer experience taught me how fulfilling it can be to be a part of a mission-driven organization. It also reinforced my conviction that I want to combine my analytical skill-set, big-picture thinking and my chemistry capabilities in my future career endeavors.
Olivia Offutt, MDP ‘18
Over the summer I worked as a researcher for Berkeley agricultural and resource economics professor David Roland-Holst on a scoping project for economic and policy development research in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar is in transition with a new democratically elected government and is liberalizing its economy, which opens up the small business sector to fast economic growth. An important factor in the economic growth of this sector is access to insurance products, which promotes income smoothing, savings, and higher risk-higher return behavior. Research in surveying small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their risk experience, risk perceptions, willingness to pay for insurance, and financial literacy will provide insight into what kinds of insurance policies and products will be optimal for Myanmar at this critical time. As a researcher, I developed and field tested a survey instrument and developed a scoping report outlining recommendations for the implementation of this SME survey.
Samantha Penabad, MBA ‘18
In today’s political and social climate, the role of the news media has become even more pronounced. And yet, although the need for quality journalism is increasingly more important, fewer people are willing to pay to consume journalism online, putting stress on publishers’ business models. This summer I worked on the Google Global Publishing Partnerships team exploring strategies that Google could employ to better support digital news publishers through new and existing products and services. As an MBA intern, I worked across Google’s many product and platform teams to help the tech giant bring its full capabilities to solving this important and pressing social challenge – the sustainability of the news publishing industry.
David Sternlicht, MBA ‘18
Most aspiring impact investors have heard this advice in some form or another: “If you want to be an impact investor, you must first become a great investor.” With that in mind, I focused on finding a role with an established VC firm that would serve as a strong training ground. Luckily, I landed a job with Industry Ventures, a 17-year old VC firm that invests into companies and into other VC partnerships. My primary responsibilities were twofold. First, I developed a deal flow tracking and data management system to structure financial data on 2,000+ companies. The system auto-filters Industry’s pipeline for “sweet spot” investments, allowing the investment team to allocate its time more efficiently. In addition, I evaluated 15 company investment opportunities, leading to three new investments. I was lucky to work with some brilliant investors and inspiring entrepreneurs, learning a ton about VC operations and the Silicon Valley ecosystem in the process. This year, I hope to complement my investing background with strategic and operating experience at startups in the food, ag, and energy industries to develop a more well-rounded impact investing background.
Alex Wilton, MBA ‘18
This summer I interned at Tesla as a product manager on the Digital Team. The Digital Team runs the website and the car ownership smartphone app. I led the effort to completely rebuild the experience when a user is searching on tesla.com (desktop and mobile) for a new or used inventory car. The new search experience should go live in the coming months! I did the following activities in roughly this order: competitive benchmarking, employee interviews, customer interviews, design wireframes, final designs, back-end system architecture, and starting development. I greatly enjoyed the internship for many reasons. The primary reasons were the following: the people on the team, the role I was in, the mission of the company (see image), and the products the company creates.