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A Journey in Sustainable Business: Collaborating Across Continents with NC State Poole College’s Business Sustainability Collaborative

Written by Svetlana Geshtovt

In November 2023, I found myself in the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence, France. I was presented with an incredible opportunity to engage with Jessica Yinka Thomas, my former professor, and mentor from the NC State Poole College of Management. The unique experience unfolded as Jessica guest lectured at the Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management – IAE, conducting a three-day business sustainability seminar that delved deep into the B Corp certification process.

Representing Prota Fiori, a sustainably designed luxury women’s footwear brand, I was invited to participate in the seminar and collaborate with graduate students. The journey provided a platform to share Prota Fiori’s B Corp certification journey and get valuable insights from international students. The timing aligned perfectly with Prota Fiori’s ongoing recertification process. The seminar, rich with comprehensive lectures, also involved hands-on projects where students crafted strategies to enhance Prota Fiori’s social and environmental impact using the B Corp framework.

The collaborative effort not only showcased the practical application of sustainable business practices but also exemplified how companies can effectively engage with students, fostering a meaningful exchange of knowledge. It underscored the potential of partnerships between academia and businesses in driving positive change.

Jessica and Svetlana in front of Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management

My Background with the Business Sustainability Collaborative

My journey with the Business Sustainability Collaborative at NC State dates back to 2019 when I was getting an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the Poole College of Management. Jessica Yinka Thomas, the Director of the Business Sustainability Collaborative, played a pivotal role in shaping my perspective on business sustainability. She introduced me to practices and tools that are instrumental in creating a more sustainable world. 

Jessica’s dedication to teaching business as a force for good inspired me during my time at NC State. I quickly got involved in the program to work alongside Jessica and other students passionate about business sustainability. As a marketing associate of the team, I helped to promote the program through events and digital communications focused on the social and environmental aspects of business. 

The B Corp Clinic, launched under Jessica’s leadership, was one of the programs we worked on every semester. The unique program provided an avenue for students to gain hands-on consulting experience with the B Corp framework, preparing them for impactful careers.

I myself went though the B Corp journey as a student consultant working with several companies throughout the US. One of these companies was Prota Fiori, a sustainable luxury shoe brand focused on creating elegant shoes from upcycled apple and grape skins. After the B Corp Clinic, I continued working with the Prota Fiori founder, Jennifer Stucko, and even now work as a consultant to help the company with the B Corp Certification. This experience sparked my interest in sustainable fashion and innovative materials used in the luxury industry. 

2020 BSC Team 16x9 crop
Sveltana and the 2019 BSC Associate team

Continuing the Journey

After graduating from NC State’s Poole College of Management, I pursued a Dual Master’s Degree in Global Luxury and Management from SKEMA and NC State University, a year master’s program split between the US and France. After graduation, I have decided to stay in France and focus on pursuing sustainability in the luxury sector. 

Currently residing in Paris, my focus lies on continuing to work in the fashion industry with a strong emphasis on sustainability. With two years of experience in fashion, marketing, digital communication, and sustainability, I am committed to promoting the use of business as a force for good. As a freelance consultant, my aim is to collaborate with brands aligned with my values, working alongside individuals passionate about sustainability to drive meaningful change.

Svetlana collaborating with student team


The recent collaboration in France served as a testament to the enduring impact of the Business Sustainability Collaborative at NC State. It reinforced the importance of connecting academia with real-world business challenges, creating a platform for shared learning and innovation. As I continue to navigate the path toward a career in sustainable fashion, I am fueled by the experiences and lessons gained through this collaboration, envisioning a future where business is a powerful force for positive change.