The capstone experience of the one-year UVM Grossman School of Business, Sustainable Innovation MBA (SI-MBA) is the Practicum Project: a full-time, hands-on, three-month consulting engagement with an organization seeking to advance sustainable business ideas.

Students work in small teams within host organizations or, in some cases, on their own entrepreneurial ventures. Projects have covered topics as diverse as evaluating and redefining carbon offsets, product development from post-industrial & post-consumer textile waste, refining Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) methodology, developing a blockchain framework for corporate sustainability and global development, biodiversity and responsible commodity sourcing. 

Host organizations typically include leading B Corporations, sustainable development consultancies, early-stage social enterprises and globally recognized companies seeking to advance ethical business practices. The deliverable for the Practicum is a detailed and comprehensive business/action plan for the host organization. At the end of the project, students present their findings and plans to a panel of Executives, Chief Sustainability Officers, Entrepreneurs and Financiers, along with representatives of the host organizations. A successful Practicum pitch is required for graduation.

This year in parallel with SI-MBA’s growing global reputation, an increasing number of organizations applied to host a SI-MBA practicum team; with several SI-MBA program alums successfully applying to have their project taken on by a team. 

As a 2019 alumna of the SI-MBA program, Alyssa Stankiewicz now works for leading global investment research company Morningstar, and is part of a team that launched a new ESG fund assessment tool, the “ESG Commitment Level”. Her practicum project team will aid in revising, expanding and improving upon the ESG Commitment Level methodology as it is rolled out across the fund universe. The team will design and lead training for those analysts that are newer to the ESG investing space, seek opportunities to measure the efficacy of these assessments, and provide recommendations to bring greater transparency to the sustainable fund landscape for investors everywhere.

Similarly, 2015 alum Ben Tacka, a Sustainability Programs Leader at Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator that specializes in sustainable climate solutions for homes, buildings and refrigerated transport and includes brands such Trane and Thermo King, will host a project. The SI-MBA students will analyze the current electrification of heating processes and modern energy efficiency techniques to model and forecast the relevant market forces impacting the company’s future triple-bottom-line. The team will leverage their “outside-in” perspective to identify cutting-edge opportunities with the potential to alleviate the strain on the electric grid.

As reinventing business as a force for good is SI-MBA’s North Star, these practicum projects help SI-MBA students hone their classroom skills on real-world problems within the host organization, ready to jump back into work with the knowledge and experience they need to become change agents in their chosen fields.
Learn more about our practicum projects here


John Turner