Mark Milstein is a Lecturer of Strategy, Innovation, and Sustainable Global Enterprise and directs the school’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise. He serves as lead faculty for the innovative Strategic Global Enterprise immersion program, where first-year MBA students work on sponsored projects that challenge them to solve real problems currently faced by companies in the marketplace. Milstein consults extensively with companies and NGOs around the world in solving social and environmental problems through innovation and enterprise. Today Dr. Milstein discusses how the center’s model differs from conventional approaches to sustainable enterprise, and the opportunities for engaging in sustainable business, both during MBA studies and after graduation. I: It’s April 24, 2008, we’re here at the Johnson School talking with Mark Milstein, the Director of the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and … you know, I want to start really asking you a little bit about your personal journey, ‘cause I think it’s interesting, you have a nontraditional background for somebody who ended up in academia I think and I've learned some things I didn’t know, the Japanese part of your background and so forth. So maybe you could just start with your college days and give us a little overview of kind of what took you along the way and how you got here. Sure. So I actually… I attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate. I studied economics and Japanese language. I had studied Japanese in high school. We were one of the few … I was in a high school with one of the few Japanese language programs in the country at the time and I really enjoyed that though I wasn’t very good at it but it was passionate for me. So I enjoyed it, so I decided to pursue that with economics which came very easily to me and when I got done with my studies at Michigan, trying to figure out what to do next, I felt like I was still very interested in Japan, I was still very interested in the language, Asia was hot at the time. Japan was still on fire and so I thought going over there, really learning the language, getting immersed in the culture, understanding what it was I had been studying for so long was the next move. And so I went over there and lived in Asia for three years and during that time traveled extensively throughout the region where you know, this is the early 90s and so all the Asian tigers had really come up and has seen tremendous economic growth but then when you're on the ground, you realize what the tradeoff from that growth was. So I was actually working for a board of education, teaching English for 2 years in the public school system on a small island off the western coast of Japan. This was a beautiful island but … and it was small, it had 5000 people on it. It was 6 kilometers across by 5 kilometers and I would go down to the beaches all the time ‘cause they were gorgeous. It was right out of a film and then you walked along those beaches, you got home and you would track tar in your home because walking along those beaches you didn’t notice that there were big tar balls that were washing ashore ‘cause you had oil tankers going back and forth between Korea and Japan in global trade routes and they would leak oil constantly and that oil would eventually wash up on shore and when you took a real close look at the beach, you realize that there was garbage all over it and not just stuff on top but very deep, deep underneath and so that caught my attention. I used to spend weekends when I didn’t have anything else to do going down the beach, picking up garbage, putting it in bags and then piling it up in front of the town hall which was the local authority there, just to send a signal that this is really ridiculous, it’s unacceptable. Why are we doing this for ourselves? The claim at the time was that the trash came from somewhere else but it was clear that the trash came from within the country and you could see the writing on it. So you knew where it came from and people weren’t owning up to you know, what it was that they were doing to their own environment surrounding. So it struck me on a local level, traveling throughout Asia really struck me on a much more regional and global level going to places like Indonesia, going to Bali for example, going to a town which was known for having beautiful coral reefs and attracting tourists from all over the world to see those coral reefs and as tourism started to pick up, they started to build more hotels but to build the hotels they quarried the line from the coral reefs. So once they took the coral reefs out, the ocean came in, washed out the beach, washed out the rest of the coral and you had these beautiful hotels that were empty because they had destroyed the environment, they had destroyed the very foundation that would have given them economic power just on a small local and regional level. So seeing that repeated over and over again and this idea somewhere along the line implicitly that you can have your economic development but you have to pay for that. You have to sacrifice and mortgage your social future, your … the fabric of society in some way. You have to sacrifice your culture, you have to sacrifice your environmental health and surroundings, that was compelling. And then I decided to pursue an MBA because business was still where a lot of interest and attention lay for people in Asia including myself and I went back to the University of Michigan, I ended up just going back for an MBA, found it somewhat unsatisfying in and of itself, had too many other questions around why is it that we are pursuing unlimited economic growth. And that was on the one hand and on the other hand looking and thinking about these other issues and saying, what's the role between business, the private sector and social and environmental issues and really up until that point, it was one of … that’s the domain of lawyers. That’s the domain of engineers. You clean pollution up as you produce it. You have to deal with the public in a court of battle perhaps but there was nobody really talking and tying these two concepts together, this idea of social and environmental issues and economics together. I ended up enrolling in a dual degree program there after my first year. So then I started earning an MS in environmental policy and started getting much more versed in a totally different discipline and when you do that, you see the world from a different perspective and in thinking through well, how do these things come together ‘cause you have the environmental community on the one side really trying to work and prevent this tide from impacting the global environment and on the other hand you’ve got the world economy just ploughing forward and what struck me was that there was a set of skills that one can get in an MBA program that folks over in the masters of environmental policy, the school of natural resources weren’t getting, and that could be very helpful. It’s just a way for solving problems. It didn’t make one group better than the other. It just meant they could show me the world in a different way but I could show them the world in a different way as well and that really impacted to me the value of multidisciplinary training, the value of multidisciplinary problem solving. When I got done with the MBA, I weighed options between going into the private sector and pursuing an academic career, and I think in the end for… at the time, there were jobs available that were interesting but the questions I was asking were much more senior level in nature. These were things CEOs were dealing with and grappling with and the idea of going into an entry level position at some large multinational firm and working my way up the top to eventually deal with a problem… the problems that I think are really germane and important to deal with now, in another 30 years didn’t hold my interest. So I went into academics and just dedicated myself to looking at these problems from a strategic lens and did that at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. While I was there in … the last couple of years I was there, was on the faculty, was working to establish and grow the Center for Sustainable Enterprise there which was focused on business and social and environmental issues and when I got done, had an opportunity to work at World Resources Institute, a think tank in Washington, which I thought was interesting but I wasn’t completely ready to get out of the academic community either, and so got a phone call from a colleague who I had been working with a long time who was here at Cornell and he said, we’re building something up here and he knew, he had heard that I was looking perhaps at trying to build a relationship partly with WRI and then maybe having some sort of an appointment at a university in the Washington area, so that I could maintain some of that academic standing, and he said if you're going to do that, consider what we’re doing up here. We’ve got endowment money. We’ve got resources. There’s a tremendous amount of energy here on campus. You know at the time, Lehman had put out a commission… put out … called the action and so there was the whole task force that was looking at sustainability in the age of global development and it sounded really compelling. So I came up here and one thing has led to another and now I direct the center I: For student thinking or for a prospective student thinking about the Johnson School who might have some of these interdisciplinary urges and who might be very interested in sustainability issues, what does an MBA at the Johnson School hold for that person, what should they be thinking about with the experience? So I'm a big advocate of the program here obviously and I'm seeing perspectives all the time that are coming through showing interest in our program and I ask them a couple of questions when they come. Why are they interested in the area, what are they hoping to get out of it, where else are they looking? You know, to see if they're tracking on the similar kinds of programs that there might be to what we have and if they can recognize what makes this institution more distinct and then we’ll talk about that and what I think is really distinctive at the Johnson School, there’s the school itself, there’s the university as a whole. I've spent time then at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and here, and I love all the places I've graduated from. I get strong positive feeling towards all of them but Cornell is unique for various reasons. One of them is that the boundaries between the different disciplines and the boundaries between the different schools on the university campus are more permeable than any place else I've ever seen and I think it may be a function of where we are what the school’s history has been but for students that are motivated to do so and I'm always encouraging students to be motivated to do so which is if you're interested in sustainability that’s great, but you have to be interested in more than just sustainability. You have to anchor that in something. So you know, you want to be a general manager, you can be a general manager. You want to focus on a functional area, that’s okay as well on the business side. But on the sustainability side, what's your interest? Are you interested in green building and design, are you interested in agriculture and nutritional systems, are you interested in hospitality, are you interested in consulting, what is it? And then look outwards, not just inwards at the Johnson School where’s a tremendous amount of capacity and talent here, but look outside the school and at the university, find the world renowned experts that sit here on campus and work with them, take their classes, understand what they're doing, test your ideas against them because in the end our program is fundamentally about looking at sustainability and the issues around sustainability. There's opportunities to leverage entrepreneurship and innovation. That’s how you address social and environmental issues, truly in a business context is you use innovation and entrepreneurship to address those unmet needs which are the social and environmental problems and if you're going to do that you have to have an entrepreneurial bend to you. You may not be the person discovering the technology but if you got an interest in promoting it in some way in a business context and you have to understand what the technologies are, you have to understand what it takes to actually grow and innovate something, you have to work with experts in other fields and so that may be true anywhere but at this particular university, it's easy to cross those boundaries. People are eager to work together and there's not the kind of animosity you might find at other institutions or just the silo mentality where you walking through somebody's door is a waste of their time. I: That’s a big distinctive quality here I think for sure. So let's dig into a little bit about the program itself and I want to go through some of the basic vocabulary and I'm quite interested in what is misunderstood by these terms as well as you know, how you might find them. So let's just start with the elephant in the room which is sustainability. MM: Okay. What is it… I: What is it and what do you think people misunderstand about it. So I think sustainability… there's probably a couple of ways to attack that. One is we have sustainable development. This idea that came out of the Bruntland Commission in the late 80s. The idea of development in a way that allows current generations to meet their needs without impacting the ability of future generations to meet their needs. That is a broad definition, right. It's at once interesting and completely meaningless and so there has been a backlash of sorts in the last few years of people saying sustainability as terminology is overused and it's just meaningless now. I don’t take such a negative view to it. I think it's helpful. I think what the Bruntland commission basically set out is if we do everything by the bottom line financial, economic perspective and it goes back to my travels in Asia you know, 15… almost 20 years ago… it was … I should say 10 years ago… 15 years ago, that is right. If you go back and you look in that economic development on impinge and that’s the end and the goal of itself, becomes the ends and the means into itself and it really… you're left with so little and so you know, sustainability set out that you have three things that you really need to consider and you have to figure out what the right optimal point for all these is. Social, environmental and economic factors. And you don’t fold one of them into the other and a lot of people do that. A lot of people say, well for example, corporate social responsibility, environment fits under that. I don’t think that’s the right way to go. I think there are three distinct problem sets. There's society. There's the natural environment and then there's the economy and you have to figure out the relationship between these three and how they play together. The broad definition of sustainability though is meaningless and so you put it into some kind of a context. In the case of the Johnson School, you're going to be in a business school, you have to put it in a business school context… you have to put it in a context of business and so that’s where I think over the last 15 years or so where folks … you know, once the Bruntland commission's definition came out and it started to become a bit more popular to talk about social and environmental issues in a different way in management education, you look at the way that got manifested in different schools and you'll see… look closely at what other programs are about. Look at the roots of those programs and not all about the same thing. You can focus more on social issues. You can focus more on environmental issues. You can focus more on the economic issues with a sprinkling of social and environment to go with it. And I think what we have here is focusing on what are the social and environmental issues of our day. How do those represent new business growth opportunities? By creating the products, the services, the companies, the markets that will actually address and alleviate those problems. That’s the big business growth opportunity. So this isn't about corporate social responsibility, how do we do well by doing good, how do we be good corporate citizens. That’s not what this is about and this isn't about environmental management, how do we less bad in a way that we can feel good about ourselves, stay within compliance and regulatory schemes. This is really about thinking… it's a hard thing that we're talking about here. It's how do you understand… how problems are manifest, how do you solve those problems and how do you bring the power of business and commerce to solving those problems. For a lot of people that’s very … that’s somewhat twisted because they see business as being the cause of the problems and I think that’s a simplistic view. If … and if we want to business is the cause of the problems, then certainly business can be the solution to the problems. It's all in the way frame the problem and how we frame solutions. What we're training here in the Johnson School, we're not just simply training business leaders, we're training good strong leadership. You might be in a company, you might be in an NGO, you might end up in government one day, you don’t know anymore. Your career path will take you all over the place. We're giving you a set of skills in general for good, strong, general management, layer the sustainable global program on top of that and we're getting you to think about how do you become a really good effective leader where you understand innovation, where you understand entrepreneurship, where you understand global issues, where social and environmental issues are coming together in that business context and that to me is the thing that makes this program particularly strong. It's the way also that sustainability actually starts to have a meaning for people. 'Cause if you just look at that general definition, it becomes meaningless. If you start getting into the specific context of what does it mean to you, your institution, your organization, what does it mean to your program… then it stars to have more meaning and it can actually be boiled down to something tangible for people. I: What do you think the role is that can be played in this sort of environment where firms are really generating these new growth opportunities by treating social and environmental challenges as unmet market needs? What are the roles that could be played by some of the following people? MM: Okay. I: So let's start with … let's start with the business leaders themselves. I mean you’ve defined that a little bit already but you know, in their thinking what role can they play in sort of … really advancing the view of these … I think a business leader has to decide what they want to be about, right, and how do they even really want to engage in this space. So if you're a manager leading a company today and you think putting out a corporate sustainability report is making your company a sustainable company… alright, you know, I don’t think that’s fundamentally addressing anything around climate change. I don’t think that’s addressing poverty. I don’t think that’s addressing ecosystem degradation. It's not addressing those big problems. Your company is not really doing anything for that. You're just explaining why you're doing what you're doing in a way that you say, look, we care, we care about those issues too and trust us, you know, we want to be corporate citizens and we'll give over here and we'll comply over here and that’s our role in today's … as today's leading company. That’s not a compelling management leadership model to me. What's a compelling model, at least the managers we work with, the people we want to work to train and develop skills with, it's around looking at those problems and saying, what innovation do we have to bring to bear in order to solve climate change problems, in order to reduce carbon and get off of a carbon based economy. What kind of solutions do we have to bring to bear? What kind of products or services do we have to bring to market to ameliorate and repair ecosystems? What kind of products and services … what kind of business models do we have to pursue to actually alleviate poverty, not just through making somebody a producer or a supplier or a customer of the existing value chain? But how do you integrate people who so far have been completely un-integrated in the global economy, into the global economy in a way that doesn’t just exacerbate the problems we already have. These are the problems of our day. These are the things that are fundamental for people's careers over the next 30 years, 'cause if we don’t solve these problems, the trends that are continuing from a scientific perspective are very disturbing and so I think we need good leaders who are versed in what the issues are, what the opportunity… you know, what the opportunity in terms of the private sector, what that offers as a tool and a mechanism for addressing those problems and then actually encourage people to pursue those. So from a business leader's perspective, that’s what I think the big opportunity is. I: Let's imagine that we have a substantial part of the corporate world aligning their thinking along those lines… it's a big leap but just stay with me. MM: Okay. I: Then what roles … what role would the general public have? Does the general public simply play a role as consumers and they don’t really have a role in realigning any thinking or … I guess it depends on you know, who's the general public. So let's start with how do companies tend to see the general public currently. So you'll see companies pursue different product formulations, different packaging, different marketing efforts that sell some green aspect of themselves to the marketplace at a premium no less and they'll say you know, because if you want these attributes in our product or in our service, that’s extra for us. So you have to pay extra for it and then despite the fact that polls will tell, you know, will suggest people are willing to pay extra for that green thing, for the environmental attribute or social … they don’t. So then you're left with the manager who sits there moaning … you know, bemoaning the fact that the public isn't buying the goods and services that they put out there and therefore the demand isn't there. So in that scenario basically, the manager is saying, you know, we went to market with something and the public didn’t understand it or the public didn’t appreciate it and their role is that … they're going to make or break this market for us. They're either gonna … they're either gonna demand our product and be willing to pay the premium for it or they won't … we won't do it. So it puts the responsibility on the public for the company doing anything. I think that’s an abdication of managerial due diligence. So I want to see managers be much more proactive and say if the public is not buying your product, it's because you're putting on a bad product. You put out something that’s green, expensive, probably you know, more dysfunctional than what's already out there in the market. That is an old way of approaching problem solving. That’s not at all compatible with what good business is. You need to come in with that thing that’s better, faster, cheaper and in that case then the public will flock towards what you have and they will pull that product through the value chain but that’s just seeing the public as your consumer. You can see the public as your producers. You can see them as your … as part of your larger value chain, your stake holder network, in terms of giving you the legitimacy and the right to operate, or what we advocate here is see your public as the source of innovation itself. The public can know what they want even they don’t know what they want. They know what they like and if you engage the public and I'm not just talking about public in the United States, we're not just talking about wealthy consumers, we're talking about people who aren’t even… they're on the fringe of the economy. They're not even really included in the global economy. You can get down on the ground, you can engage people not to extract information from them … you know, walk away, create something and then sell it back to them. You can actually engage them in the thought process, in the entrepreneurial process of coming up with a business concept, a prototyping of business of actually launching an enterprise in the marketplace and of growing that and that’s a totally different conceptualization of what the public is and what their role in this is. If you look at … you know, look at the problems that need solving, there's no one entity that can do it. When I got into the area originally, it was the domain of the government, it was the domain of lawyers, it was the domain of engineers. Management was nowhere to be found. And frankly those folks didn’t want management there, because management was the cause of the problem. But management's got a different type of skill set and something that’s very valuable to have at the table and so when you do that then … when you look at a more collaborative way about what are our problems, what are the issues of the day, how are those manifesting themselves going forward? There's where you see market opportunity and you work collaboratively with people to make that happen. I: Because that’s such a new way of thinking about the population that’s at the base of the pyramid, give us an illustration of when that’s been done successfully. We've got a project going on now that’s three… four years now, called Base of the Pyramid Protocol Project which is just that. So the suggestion, you know, the original proposition now almost ten years ago by Professors Hart and Prahalad was, there's a role for the private sector to play in poverty alleviation and there's you know, more than half a humanity that’s systematically left out of the global economy and that those folks can be a source of ingenuity, innovation, entrepreneurial energy for the private sector and there's a way for both to come together for the betterment of all. That was the proposition and about four or five years ago, there was a group of companies we were working with and communicating with who said, like the idea of working with poor communities but you know, our market research techniques don’t work, you know, we don’t have the skill base and the capability set for that, and that was a great admission and that’s consistent because if you want to do the incremental adjustment to your business model, try to tweak it, which is really what a lot of environmental management and corporate social responsibility is about. You want to do that the metric exists inside the organization. You know how to do continuous improvement. If you actually want to create and discover something new, that’s a whole different set of metrics. So most market research efforts are about trying to uncover the next extension of the current brand offering or the current product. This is talking about something very, very different. This is talking about engaging markets that are extremely unfamiliar in places companies aren’t used to going, in places where most people fear to tread and so you need a completely different process to do that. So we pulled together a group of people representing academics, private sector, government, the NGO community, multilateral, the communities themselves, folks who are working on the ground and communities themselves, pulling them together and over a several day period, said, what would our process look like and when we were done with that, looked around the room and said, well, this is great. Now that we've developed a process what do we do next and one of the companies who was there at the table, SC Johnson came forward and said, we're willing to pilot this. So we then went in with a project together with SC Johnson in Kenya and actually engaged the community in a rural area, in an urban slum created a new business and more recently had done the same thing with … as an example, DuPont subsidiary Soley in India engaging the community, coming up with a new business, there was nothing that was on the table before. It wasn’t something that they had preconceived before they walked into the community or engaged on the ground. It only came and you wouldn’t have … you had to engage the community in that kind of a process. It's a slow going process, it's one that requires high touch. It requires engagement. It requires patience, it doesn’t require tremendous amounts of capital from the standpoint of launching a new business opportunity but it's got other issues around it. But those are two very salient examples of where the rubber really hits the road on trying to work closely with the community to build economic opportunity. I: It's very interesting to me the two earlier interviews I had talked about how the market moves fast and then there feels academics move more slowly and so they can't flex to the current event. It seems to me that just from all I've heard from you and from Stu, academics were ahead of corporate America on this. Is that the right perception? MM: Oh yeah. Most definitely. So this is one of those rare … this is what I say in a lot of engagement… This is one of these rare moments when academics got way ahead of the private sector and the practitioners themselves and so the whole base of the pyramid concept, there are some elements of it that aren’t new at all. I mean it's really in some ways about enterprise development and poverty alleviation and you’ve got to be respectful of folks who've done work in this area, economic development, social development, rural development. I mean there's a ton of activity in this area already, decades of it. It's not that all of a sudden we've discovered a solution for that, it's that we've figured out a way and really Prahalad and Hart began to find a way to articulate it, so the business community would appreciate what their role could be in a way that was different. Up until then it was all philanthropic. It was seeing to engage the poor, to engage the underserved or the ignored in some philanthropic way. We give something. We come in there and there's cause related marketing of some sort. We're doing this because it's the right thing to do and this all of a sudden turned it around and said no… no… no… there's a development opportunity here and there's a business reason why you do it and there's a business… there's a business process that you can engage that justifies doing it and so really some people have … you know, early conceptualizations see it as base of the pyramid is the same thing as selling to the poor. That’s a really poor conceptualization of what the space is about. It's much more robust than that, nor is it simply seeing poor people as producers and consumers. It goes beyond that. It's really looking at what's the business innovation process that you can undertake with poor communities to create something new, a new business, a new technology, a new opportunity and that was … that’s evolved over the last several years but that was … the initial proposition was out ahead of where the private sector was. I: They're refreshing example. How about policy makers? You know, you said that early on they were sort of viewed as the panacea and then that was kind of turned on its head. What do they need to do to support this realignment? MM: That’s a great question. So I'm in the middle of trying to think about that now. I'm in the middle of a grant that I received from the SEVEN Fund, the Social Equity Venture Network Fund, looking at the way that the US military is approaching economic development and so this … I'm looking at Iraq, I'm looking at what they're doing in Afghanistan and what they're doing or planning to do in Africa, what they're doing in the Philippines and I've … for the first time in my life, I seem surrounded by folks in government. I've had the criticism over the last five, six years in the classroom from students particularly students in policy and students from abroad where government action is a much bigger vehicle than it is here in the United States, that we don’t take the government into account enough. And I'm trying to figure out what is the role, because what's becoming clear is the skill set necessary for creating new businesses, for innovation, for enterprise development. It doesn’t really sit in the places that even folks in government thinks it might sit in. The idea of enterprise… the idea that government is really good at that, people seem to accept the fact that government is not really great at picking a technology, that they're not great at technological development though they can fund it, they can create the opportunity for the funding around, they can create the space to actually put resources towards that but in developing and promoting specific technologies, not a great track record. I'd venture to say the same thing is true on enterprise development and economic development. That government is great if it's a macro one size fits all top down solution. The minute you're talking about trying to bubble up creativity from the ground up, it becomes really hard because the vehicle doesn’t fit the mechanism necessary. Does that mean government has no role? Absolutely not. There's a critical role there. There's partnerships to be had. There's new, you know, there's ways that government can have tremendous influence in ways companies can't and not just in the United States. When you go abroad and government is much stronger, if you're operating in China, it's a completely different situation. If you're in India, if you're in Brazil, if you're in Tanzania, Nigeria, government takes a different role. You have to know what that is but there's role there in trying to get people to look and say, the goal is to create enterprise. The goal is to promote innovation in entrepreneurship. So given that goal what's government's role in that and to look at that is a mechanism for solving social and environmental issues not simply past regulatory schemes and beat those who are bad over the head for violating those schemes. That doesn’t really help 'cause it's trying to deal with something after the fact. It really is trying to orient economies towards new areas of dynamic growth and government is critical for that I: Something you just said triggered a thought of mine. I meant to ask you this before. I know that your students are doing on the ground work in Brazil and many other places. I wonder if there's a common sort of 'aha' moment for them and I'm trying to get at what you think people discover from actually being in those environments that they can't do from sitting in a classroom at Cornell. Is there an 'aha' moment? I don’t know. You'd have to talk to the students. I don’t know how their personal epiphanies occur. Some of them it's a slow steamroller, some of them it's a moment in time where all of a sudden something fits together. What we try to do here is provide students a variety of opportunities to engage in this space. There's classroom activities, there's field based opportunities, there's project opportunities. I'm personally… the program reflects as a big believer in experiential learning. I think they're … you know, and maybe it comes out of my own experiences for studying foreign language. It was one thing to study it on paper, it could only get so far. It wasn’t until you actually lived there, you understand how people live, you understand how the language is used on a day to day basis, it all starts to make sense and so part of this program is about giving students the opportunity to get on the ground even if they're engaging primarily here, at some point, they get into the field in the sustainable global enterprise immersion for example, where the students are working in multidisciplinary teams on projects sponsored by companies and these are real projects. These are issues that companies are struggling with now that they really need answers to today. Those projects will be primarily conducted here but then students will go abroad for some component of that during the spring breaks for example, get on the ground and it usually helps connect all the different pieces. All the work that they’ve been doing, all the other classes that they’ve taken, all the core courses that they took and all the tools that they learned there. All of a sudden they realize how these fit together and how these can be applied, sometimes in a purely business context, sometimes in this multisectorial, multidisciplinary context where you’ve got NGOs working with company, working with the government, working with the multilaterals on the ground, working with the community and it all starts to come together. You can't get that in a classroom. You have to get out eventually and figure out how it all fits together. I: Makes sense. I've heard you… I'm curious about the sort of career aspects of this global sustainability. I mean it seems to me like there's a crescendo of interest in this which is … it's always good and yet also … MM: Right. I: It brings with it a certain naïvety or so and I'm wondering whether you… what do you think is bringing students and in particular there seem to be more women proportionate to other classes in your course. So I'm wondering what is bringing people to this topic. Is it altruism, is it … what do you think it is? I think folks gravitate for different reasons. Some … you know, when they start with us in the beginning and we go around and … what brought you here, why are you in this class or why are you concerned about this issue, why did you come to Cornell for this. There's all kinds of reasons. Some of them … they think that these are the issues of the day and these are the things that are going to matter for a long time and that from a career perspective this is where the biggest growth is going to occur. Some of them say they just … they really care about the environment or they really care about society and they want to… they want something meaningful to give back. So some of them it's values based, some of them it's ethically based. Some of them it's pure intrinsic financial motivation 'cause they think this is where the opportunity lies. There's no one way that you have to come to this space. I think there's a really compelling rationale for coming to it, which is that the endemic social and environmental issues are on trends that are problematical and that private sector has the means, the resources, the capability, the skill set to make a meaningful difference in addressing those issues and because the way the private sector is structured if you do that successfully, there are rewards to be had for that. It rewards talented smart people for that which is why I think you see really talented, really smart people gravitating toward this area. A colleague told me a few years ago that … when we were in a PhD program together, I should move away from this area. It's a flash in the pan. It's a bubble. It's a recent area of interest as opposed to the area she was studying at the time which was the e-commerce revolution. So this is pre-2000 and I said … by that point, I'd already been in it for 7 or 8 years and I said you know, I feel pretty good about this. I mean if you look at the underlying scientific evidence around all of these problems, you look at the literature, you look at the research that’s been done, look at it from the standpoint… look at it apolitically and those trends are very strong. That tells me there's an opportunity in the field. The e-commerce stuff, I don’t know. That looks like a bubble to me and so you know, one of us got proved right. One of us got proved wrong and I don’t think these issues are going away. People bring up… even today students and some managers say, is this just a flash in the pan. Is everybody really interested in sustainability now and they're not going to be in a couple more years. I don’t think so, if you look at the underlying fundamentals of them. We teach our students to look at the fundamentals, look at the fundamentals and this is really a critical component. So if that’s the case and you're trying to figure out where to go, you're trying to figure out a program to work with. You're trying to figure out where to go do your studies and you’ve got some interest in social and environmental issues, go where it's going to bring these pieces together for you in a compelling way that’s actually going to make you more valuable in the marketplace. And so it doesn’t matter what students come in, what brings them to it in the first place. As we work together over the two years that they're here, it's where they go afterwards. What do they do for their summer internships? What do they do for their full time opportunities? They're going everywhere. They're doing everything because they're pursuing the interests that are most germane to themselves. There's no one way to come at this. I think in the early… you know, few years ago when we first started some of my colleagues said, well what kind of jobs are these folks gonna get, you know, what kind of … tell me what a sustainability job is and I tell them, there's no such thing as a sustainability job. I don’t know what that would look like. There's jobs where you're going to bump up against the issues which would qualify as sustainability issues, social and environmental issues in an economic context. So let's train our students to think about … how to think about that, how to problem solve in that sort of domain. Let's give them the experiences they need while they're here to actually learn and fail and learn some more and then they will be more valuable candidates in the marketplace 'cause what are companies looking for today. They're looking for smart people. They're looking for people with international experience. They're looking for people who can problem solve. They want people who are creative. They want people who are innovative. That describes all the … that describes what this program is. So we're giving the students an ability to actually develop those skills, turn around to a company when they're looking for an internship or a full time opportunity and not just say, I'm innovative and I'm creative. They don’t have to do that. They can say, I worked on this project in the sustainable global enterprise immersion. I worked on this independent study with the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, this is what I did. That speaks volumes to the employers. That’s why the students are getting jobs on Wall Street and investment banks. They're getting jobs with consumer products goods and brand management. They're getting jobs with consulting companies. They're getting jobs in venture capital and… you know, they're getting entrepreneurial jobs. They're getting everything they want because they're coming to the marketplace with a set of skills that’s valuable, being able to problem solve in a way that others can't. I: I do think just going back to your comparison with the e-commerce thing. One of the reasons that it's been a sustained or it has longevity to it is because you're not taking just a greening approach. I mean e-commerce is not dead obviously but the e-commerce, that way of like studying e-commerce, that was so narrow instead of saying, what's transformational about the way buyers and sellers come together, right. So it seems to me that a lot of longevity of your program is more related to this broad perspective that you know, I've heard you say, this is no longer a cost of doing business proposition. This is really how to build a competitive advantage business… and I think that lends you know… really is a different one to look through and it's gonna last for a long time because as you said, we got to lot to worry about in the meantime. MM: I want students to look… you know, when students are looking for programs for example, or looking at research that’s being done, ask themselves where does it all lead to, okay. So that … you know, some of these programs lead to corporate social responsibility jobs in a company. Sounds great. What do they do? They work on CSR reports. How is that really making a material difference in the thing that they are so eager and compassionate about? We want the students to be able to bring the power of the private sector to bear on the problems that they really care about, to make that big difference in the world. That’s what we want our research to be about, that’s what we want to understand better, those managerial practices, those organizational structures that allow us to approach social and environmental problems is unmet market needs for business growth opportunities. That’s what we want to focus on. MM: And this program does that. I don’t think that that’s mysterious. We're very public about it but I think that’s really hard to do in action. When you pick a part what other places you're doing it, it just doesn’t add up to that. It adds up to an opportunity as an environmental manager. It adds up to EHNS or operations opportunity… you know, operational opportunities. It adds up to PR and communications opportunities but it doesn’t add up to leadership opportunities in research and development, in venture capital and entrepreneurship, in new business development. That’s what we're working on here. I: You’ve mentioned entrepreneurship a few times and I wonder what do you think entrepreneurship means and what does that term mean to you. So there's probably as many different definitions of that as there are about sustainability. So for me, I've got a very broad definition of entrepreneurship. I reflect it out as my students want it reflected out. So for some of them, they have ideas … they come here with an idea about building a business and I encourage them to pursue whatever that idea is, maybe it's a small business and that’s all it ever is but it's meaningful to them and that’s what they want to do. So I want them to have the skills to run that as well as they possibly can. For others, it's about establishing an entrepreneurial venture that will grow infinitely and displace existing incumbent multinational companies 10, 20 years down the road. They want to be the next Microsoft. They want to be the next Google and to that extent, I want to encourage that. What I like back to the earlier question about you know, why Cornell, what's interesting and compelling here. I think there are … I think there are three confluence… there's a confluence of three different elements that really ought to come together in a university setting, to equip students, you know, on the teaching side to equip students, to train them properly, on the outreach side and the research side to actually have something compelling to offer the outside community and that is sustainability, entrepreneurship and international. You have to have a confluence of those three things and here at Cornell, sustainability, I think we're offering a compelling vision for that. We’ve got Entrepreneurship at Cornell which is manifest here as entrepreneurship at the Johnson School. It's a great program. It cuts across all the schools and colleges. It has the top most perspective in terms of President Skorton, all the way down to you know, staff and faculty who are really committed to seeing Cornell as a source for compelling entrepreneurship and the sustainability and entrepreneurship get braided together as well as the international component, that you don’t … you're not just solving problems for your region, you're not just solving problems for central New York, you're solving problems for the nation. You're solving problems for the globe and again these three things come together in a really compelling way that often times they don’t come together with another … in other programs in other universities. I: Just to kind of wrap things up, I think I have a… just really one more sort of question which is you know, what keeps you awake at night, you have a lot of challenges ahead of you. MM: My kids. I: Kids probably. But what issues do you really, you know, ponder deeply as you're drifting off and then you know, you seem to have a lot of joy when you get out of bed the next day, you just seem very energetic every time I've ever seen you present and you have that kind of really controlled passion that’s really effective because it's very infectious and … MM: Okay. I: I'm just kind of … I'm wondering like what … where does that come from and … MM: I guess … so what keeps me awake at night. I get concerned that … we need to have something to say. I think fundamentally, we're an academic institution. I work with folks … oh I got a great advisory council and sometimes the advice they give me is you know, you need to operate more like a business. I'm not a business. I'm at a university and so I have to take that into consideration. I'm part of a graduate program in management education and at the end of the day our bread and butter is not whether or not we can launch a business per se, you know, that’s for entrepreneurs to do. Can we train people? Can we get people to solve problems more effectively? Can we get people to make better decisions? Can we understand something about that process so that we're all empowered and I see too many programs that have been established around business and sustainability that don’t have any intellectual agenda at all and I want to make sure we stay not just current but ahead of the game, that others are emulating what we're doing, not the other way around and so what keeps me awake at night is turning these problems over. How can business be more effective in addressing social and environmental issues? How does business and sustainability come together in a way that’s more compelling, more effective? How do we make sure we're solving the problems that we see and that we want to solve and that we're not just paying them lip service and feeling good about ourselves? And the reason I get up energetic in the morning is because I'm at a great institution with great colleagues, phenomenal students and I feel like we've got a critical mass here to actually move forward on that kind of an agenda, and that’s effective and I'm … I want other people to come and join that. There's an open door policy here, not just with the office but with the program that we're doing and the research that we want to conduct, the idea is we don’t just talk about innovation and entrepreneurship. We try to live that ourselves. We're being entrepreneurial and innovative in an academic setting which in and of itself is not the easiest thing to do and so … but you have to do that by building bridges. You have to do that by building coalitions and collaborations and drawing people in because you can't do it all yourself, and so the goal is that the more people who are empowered, the more effective we can be and then we actually solve those problems and I can sleep better at night.