UNC Kenan-Flagler Sustainability Blog

Sustainability Leadership Capstone: Practicing Leadership and Impact

June 5, 2013 By Tracy Triggs-Matthews

The first in a series on the 2013 Sustainable Leadership Capstone course.

By Carolyn Yuen, MBA ’13

How better to end business school than with a capstone experience that brings together all that we have learned. 15 students. A variety of concentrations. Seeking to make an impact.

Carolyn Yuen (center) MBA '13

Carolyn Yuen (center) MBA ’13

As we prepare for jobs in Investment Banking, Human Resources, Brand Management, Corporate Finance, Management Consulting, Corporate Strategy, among others, our last module was well spent coming together to work with real companies and organizations. As part of the 2013 Sustainability Leadership Capstone, each team member became deeply engaged in making an impact in the real world: providing research and ideas to move companies toward self-sustainability and higher profitability.Having personally focused on a curriculum around finance and renewable energy, I was able to bring those skillsets to the project, but there was more to learn to round out my business school experience. We had to use our instincts to provide initial direction to our project, we had to use our limited time efficiently to gain expertise in an area we were less familiar with (economic development in Eastern North Carolina), and we had to practice being resourceful by going into the streets of Ethiopia to gather market research. I learned from my colleagues who offered in-depth marketing tools, different ways to analyze a process for energy management, and steps for vendor due diligence.

Leadership skills and teamwork are essential to gaining influence from your peers. With our desire to integrate environmental and social values into our future jobs at large corporations and start-ups, the Sustainability Leadership Capstone gave us a practice ground for leading a group of ambitious people with contrasting ideas. It did not matter who was the designated leader. Leadership comes not from title but from influence. Leadership comes from knowing whom to follow. Leadership comes from listening to others and respecting your team members.

We are seconds away from starting our jobs at McKinsey Consulting, Johnson & Johnson, Hershey, 3M, BCG Consulting, Intel, eBay, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. We are heading there, not only with strong business frameworks but also the skills to make change toward sustainability in companies of global influence. We may not be experts yet, but we are definitely on our way toward becoming effective leaders.


One Comment

  1. Lauren Collalto

    Great blog post, Carolyn! You encapsulate our experience well.

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