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Poole College of Management celebrates launch of Business Sustainability Collaborative

By Hugh V. Fisher, Poole College Communications

Students, faculty, staff, and friends of NC State gathered Monday to celebrate the launch of the Poole College Business Sustainability Collaborative (BSC), formerly known as the Poole College Sustainability Initiative.

The afternoon celebration at the Talley Student Union on the NC State Campus in Raleigh featured a keynote talk by acclaimed author Andrew Wilson, author of The Big Pivot, a networking session and a first look at the plans and programming that the BSC will offer.

The launch event marks the start of a new chapter in NC State’s commitment to sustainability in business and celebrates the accomplishments that laid the groundwork for this new initiative.

Creating leaders in sustainable business practices

The Business Sustainability Collaborative’s goal is to create leaders who will apply research, technology and critical thinking to drive and measure sustainable business practices worldwide. Their mission is to prepare the next generation of leaders by engaging students, faculty and the local and global business community to drive positive business results.

In the keynote presentation, Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold and The Big Pivot, and Rosanna Garcia, professor of innovation and design in Poole College, discussed sustainability in the global business world.

Winston, the founder of Winston Eco-Strategies, has consulted with leading companies including Boeing, Kimberly-Clark, and PwC. His messages on sustainability and corporate strategy make him a much-sought-after speaker and advisor to businesses worldwide.

Garcia is a member of the Chancellor’s Innovation and Design Faculty Excellence Cluster. Her research focuses on sustainable innovations and marketing of future technologies.

The seeds of the Business Sustainability Collaborative were planted in 2010, when a portion of an endowed gift from Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., founder of Waste Industries, was committed to the establishment of a center of excellence in sustainability in the Poole College of Management.

Since being named an inaugural director of Poole College’s Sustainability Initiative in 2013, Jessica Thomas has worked with students and faculty to identify opportunities to support sustainable business practices, network with the sustainability community and create connections between NC State University and the sustainable business community.

The re-launch of the Sustainability Initiative as the Business Sustainability Collaborative is part of a five-year strategic plan, Thomas said.

“Our priorities are to develop the programming, resources, and initiatives that will prepare our students to drive positive and sustainable business results,” she said. “We’ll accomplish that not only through the Poole College of Management’s multi-disciplinary curriculum but by creating opportunities for students to engage with the local and global business community.”

Engaging students

And the effects of those efforts are already being seen, Thomas said. This year, the graduate and undergraduate chapters of Net Impact, a global network of student and professional chapters, have been recognized with Gold Chapter status for the quality of sustainability programming and student involvement.

As part of the sustainability initiative, a group of students has had the opportunity to work as Business Sustainability Collaborative Associates, creating and supporting programming and interfacing with campus and community leaders to foster sustainability education.

“I love working with the BSC,” said Desislava Dancheva, one of this year’s BSC Associates. “Here, you are given the freedom and support to develop your own ideas and make a strong impact on your community through various creative projects!”

Dancheva is a junior in the Poole College of Management, studying business administration with a concentration in information technology. Entrepreneurship and business sustainability are among her interests.

“As a BSC Associate, you quickly learn that you don’t need to fight for your ideas for change,” Dancheva said. “You simply collaborate with the business experts in clarifying exactly what sustainability is.”

“Our faculty, staff, and students are the leaders who’re going to lead the way into making NC State a sustainable campus,” Thomas said. “Meanwhile, our graduates will go on to bring sustainable business practices and thinking into the organizations they lead.”

“Our goal is to give faculty access to a wide range of resources to help them apply leading research within Poole College, across NC State and in partnership with other leading business schools,” Thomas said.

Find out more about the Business Sustainability Collaborative: