MS in Sustainability Program Links Execs with Students

Bob Langert, George Nassos, Patrick Boyle, Bill  Blackburn
Conference speakers from left to right: Bob Langert, editor-at-large for GreenBiz; George P. Nassos, director of DePaul’s MS in Sustainability Management program; Patrick Boyle, director of corporate sustainability at Sloan Valve Co.; and Bill Blackburn, president of William Blackburn Consulting.

DePaul students had a chance to learn more about careers in sustainability management from three prominent corporate veterans of this burgeoning field during the “New Concepts in Sustainability” conference at the Driehaus College of Business Oct. 24.

The event was hosted by George P. Nassos, director of DePaul’s MS in Sustainability Management program, and the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship. Speakers included Bob Langert, editor-at-large for GreenBiz and former vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability at McDonald’s; Bill Blackburn, president of William Blackburn Consulting, which focuses on global sustainability environment, health and safety management; and Patrick Boyle, director of corporate sustainability at Sloan Valve Company. Takeaways from the executives’ presentations included:

  • The emergence of corporate sustainability over the past 15 years has led to new policies that support the environment and society. During his talk, Langert discussed his 30-year career at McDonald’s, where he transitioned from logistics to sustainability, helping the worldwide fast-food giant address issues that included the treatment of animals in its supply chain. While progress has been made in the field of sustainability during its short history, Langert told students there’s more to be done.
  • Corporate sustainability officers manage “two R’s” – respect and resources. Blackburn, who previously served as vice president and chief counsel in environment, health and safety for Baxter, told students that sustainability means conducting business with respect for people and other living things , as well as the wise use of economic and natural resources. A truly sustainable company, he said, will not only practice this business concept, but also will be transparent about their practices to all stakeholders.
  • Even a century-old company can embrace sustainability. Boyle shared how Sloan Valve, a 112-year-old company, emphasizes water conservation in its products and practices. He said the company addresses the “triple P” bottom line – it offers extra benefits for its people, produces products that conserves resources for the planet, while making a profit. It also supports sustainability among its suppliers by offering them continuing education presentations about it. The company has made nearly 300 of these presentations so far this year.

“In the MS in Sustainable Management program, we teach sustainability strategies along with case studies,” Nassos says. “Conferences like this one help students see how they can apply what they are learning to future careers in this field. Students benefit from hearing what is going on in the real world.”

Learn more about DePaul’s MS in Sustainable Management