Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School on the Net Impact Force For Change

This post is part of a short interview series featuring the winners and runners up for the 2010 Net Impact Force For Change Award The Award recognizes outstanding Net Impact members who have led an employee or student-driven project with tangible positive social and/or environmental impacts. I asked each participant to introduce their project and answer a few questions in their own words…

3p: Tell me, in your own words, what your project is all about:

Tepper’s Sustainable Business was a multi-project initiative, where the unifying theme throughout each project was to refine a talent pipeline for sustainable careers, whether sustainability was part of the actual function title or a lens used in any role. We organized our endeavors by building from Esty’s & Winston’s Green to Gold framework, incorporated more of the human “bottom line”, and sought to institutionalize this cyclical innovation pattern. Some example endeavors included:

1) Academic Programming: Focus Groups for new courses, a Faculty Group of Champions, and resources for existing courses
2) Experiential Learning: Sustainability Consulting for domestic companies
3) Atmosphere: partnering with vendors and school administrators around Healthy Living food choices + Waste Reduction

1. What inspired the project you pursued?

Like any other entity, business schools constantly have to find their own way to remain sustainable. As part of the Tepper School community, we wanted to contribute to that effort (it married each of our own personal thematic interests with the needs of the community).

2. When and how did you know you had made an impact?

When individual projects under the initiative umbrella began gaining traction / leadership buy-in.

3. What was most critical for achieving the level of success you did?

A clear and consistent vision of what the end horizon we were aiming for was, while being flexible in the ways that we got there.

4. Did you encounter any unexpected challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

Time pressure (everybody is busy, even if they love it this is just one more thing on the plate). We managed this concern by showing each stakeholder what value it would bring them / how it would make what they were doing easier and help them accomplish what they were already trying to accomplish.

5. What advice do you have for other students who want to make an impact on their campus?

Understand what is really motivating you (what will make you happy) and keep that in mind when you are crafting the vision and details of your project.

6. As a busy student, what inspired you to get involved with a project like this?

The chance to make a difference (and a number of Net Impact Campus Greening calls / Issue in Depth calls that highlighted the successes of others).

7. Has the work you’ve done generated excitement and inspiration for other students to pursue projects that will have a positive impact?

Yes, students who hear about these initiatives keep asking about them.


Join us in Ann Arbor at the end of October for the 2010 Net Impact Conference.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

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