November 15, 2013

Sustainability and Innovation- Mushroom Houses and Surfboards


One of the many ways that an MBA student at Weatherhead can get involved with sustainability is by connecting with the school’s Fowler Center for Sustainable Value. The Fowler Center does a variety of things around sustainability. One of their primary goals is to produce sustainability business case studies for use in academic business programs. As a first year student I was given the opportunity to be on a team researching and writing one of the Fowler Center case studies.

The company that we focused on is called Ecovative. They are a young manufacturing firm that was founded in 2008. They have a proprietary technology that has been commercialized so far for the packaging and construction industries. The unique characteristic of their product is that they grow it! They have engineered a way to grow mushrooms in almost any shape and density. Their hope is to help push out expanded polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam as the dominant packaging material and replace it with their own.


The mushroom packaging is much more environmentally friendly as it will compost on its own without the use of an industrial process in a ninety-day window. This is in stark contrast with EPS, which takes tens of thousands of years to biodegrade in the natural world. Business-wise it is competitive with conventional alternatives because the production process consumes 1/5 of the energy necessary to create EPS. They also have found other applications such as surfboard cores and building insulation that grows in place!

As we were in the middle of our publishing process, Ecovative was featured in a full spread in The New Yorker. It was exciting to see that the company in our business case study was also getting national press from well-known media outlets, reinforcing that not only is our work beneficial but also relevant. I found that working at the Fowler Center was a great opportunity for me to dive deeply in the realm of business and sustainability with seasoned professionals to guide me. The Fowler Center has been an invaluable part of my education here at Weatherhead.

And another benefit to working on a case study with the Fowler Center? ... I’ll be a published author!

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As a second year MBA student here at Weatherhead School of Management, I write about how I’ve been able to use my time at the school to dive into the sustainable business world. I'll describe my experience with different projects, fellowships and other programs in and outside the school. In my studies I focus on sustainability and finance.

November 8, 2013

Best Places for Coffee Around Weatherhead



Coffee topped my list of “must haves” while I was in grad school.  Ok… it still does.  I’m willing to bet you agree that a morning cup of coffee is essential.  (For my avid tea drinking friends, this post applies to you too.)  If at all possible, I try not to make someone endure a conversation with me before I’ve had a coffee.
But coffee doesn’t just keep us going.  It’s a way to connect with people.  Meeting for coffee can be perfect for working on a project, networking, or catching up with a friend or colleague.  It’s no wonder there are so many coffee shops!  But of course, they’re not all the same.  Even the several Starbucks in University Circle have different vibes.  Atmosphere matters when you’re choosing your coffee destination.

The Coffee House
If you’re having a more professional meeting, you might want a bustling shop with some background noise.  The Starbucks on Euclid and Cornell is a great central place to meet, and its location means people are always running in and out.  If you’re looking for quintessential coffee house charm, the Coffee House at University Circle has it – complete with squeaky wood floors and a community board with ads listing everything from apartments to events.  As packed as it was when I stopped in the other evening, it was so quiet!  Everyone was either studying with headphones in or enthralled in hushed conversation.  They even have small rooms upstairs where, if it’s not too busy, you could have your own private study space.  If I need to get some reading done but don’t want to sit at home, I’ve found my spot.

The Coffee House and Starbucks are both easy walking distance from Weatherhead, and from a few years of experience, I am happy to tell you that you can make it to either of them on a 15 minute class break.

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I’m a Cleveland native who loves my city, and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you. It seems I always have recommendations of things to do and places to see. This summer, I’ve started experiencing the city from a fresh perspective--by getting here and there on my bicycle.



November 1, 2013

Internship Search While Studying Abroad

During the process of preparing to enter Weatherhead’s new Global MBA program, one thing that came up repeatedly was the difficulties the program’s structure would introduce in finding an internship during the summer after our first year. Due to our location in Asia, we were told, the interviewing process would not be as straightforward. This is not to say that any doors would be closed, but that we were going to have to approach our search from a different angle.

With this in mind, I decided to take a more experimental approach. Before my arrival, I established a relationship with the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai to see if they might be able to help me. The Chamber facilitates a wide variety of programs involving companies with ties to both China and the US, and many of its members are mid- to high-level executives. It organizes both networking events as well as educational forums for various issues that might be of interest to its members. I attend these when possible, and I have made a number of connections that I consider likely to lead to internship opportunities in the future. I  have already arranged a couple of projects that I work on in my spare time outside the classroom that are providing me with invaluable experience to better understand what work-life is really like in China.

In addition to the Chamber, there is a social networking site called Internations that serves as a hub for many professional and personal networking events in cities with large expatriate populations. I have attended events organized on this site in other cities and typically found them quite worthwhile, so I decided to check out their community in Shanghai. By far this is the best, most tight-knit expatriate community I have encountered. Everyone is eager to meet new people in a similar situation to their own, and everyone has an interesting story about how they ended up in Shanghai. While I keep my ears open about potential internship opportunities at Internations events, they are also worth attending just for the camaraderie. The vast majority of attendees are established professionals who can always provide insightful advice about living and working in Asia.

Of course, it is important to remain connected with Weatherhead’s Career Management Office and to fully explore all options they offer. I think it will be very important for future Global MBA classes to realize the extraordinary opportunities that exist in a city like Shanghai. While the language barrier can be intimidating it is not insurmountable as almost everyone in business speaks at least some English. In many ways, students will be able to directly interact with high-level executives. In Shanghai everyone is looking to do business, and that means keeping their options open. Let yourself be one of the options.

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Christopher King, Global MBA '15, Global MBA Contributor
As part of the Global MBA program, Christopher King hopes to leverage his past professional experience in Asia into a long-term presence there. He hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.