MS-ESM Program Prepares Students for Careers in Sustainability and CSR

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As sustainability becomes more deeply embedded in global business, an increasing number of diverse professionals are wondering how to break through. Georgetown McDonough’s new M.S. in Environment and Sustainability Management (MS-ESM) program convened a panel of Georgetown University alumni across various industries to discuss their experiences from both traditional and non-traditional pathways to careers in sustainability.

The panelists represented an array of sustainable careers in finance, food, policy, and strategy, many of whom found their time at Georgetown McDonough pivotal in breaking into sustainability management. Georgetown designed the MS-ESM program for those who already have a background in the sustainability space and would like to develop their business knowledge so they can better advance the business case for sustainability, as well as for those with business experience who would like to understand the science of sustainability. It will enroll its first cohort of students in August 2022.

“When I started my career 10 years ago, you really had to forge your own path to work in sustainability because the programs like MS-ESM didn’t exist for you to pivot in that direction — mainly because companies weren’t prioritizing CSR like they do now,” said Demsas Gebrehewot (MBA’20), responsible investments product manager, Eaton Vance and Calvert Research and Management.

Making the business case for sustainability and environmental management has long been a challenge for many organizations integrating CSR into their business plans. The 11-month STEM-designated MS-ESM program recognizes that leaders need to understand both the science and business aspects of sustainability to lead successful companies. Like much of the curriculum at Georgetown McDonough, the MS-ESM program prepares students to become business leaders who will integrate sustainability into the overall strategy of their organizations.

Sara Ribikove’s (MBA’21) journey began at the Food Recovery Network after completing her undergraduate degree in public health from the University of Rochester. The organization unites students on college campuses to fight food waste and hunger by recovering perishable food that would otherwise go to waste. Now working as a senior policy associate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Ribikove highlights the remarkable urgency the food industry faces to solve food waste.

“The MS-ESM program is special because it balances the research and information and shows you how to communicate that, while also understanding the priorities of an organization to make these problems workable for them, but also help move the needle,” said Ribikove.

Unlike the other panelists, Ruth Hupart (MBA’17) has worked in the sustainability sector for more than 15 years, but she sought to arm herself with even more skills to tackle the increasing number of issues facing the industry.

“I really gained a lot from receiving my graduate studies at Georgetown,” said Hupart. “I was already strong in policy and science, but I truly needed the business and finance angles which helped propel my 15-year career in sustainability to the next level.”

The MS-ESM is an interdisciplinary degree offered jointly by the Georgetown Environment Initiative, the McDonough School of Business, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences that leverages the business and scientific expertise across Georgetown University’s renowned programs. Based in Washington D.C., the program benefits from unparalleled access to thought leaders, policymakers, industry experts, transnational organizations, global corporations, nonprofits, and government entities that are directly involved in sustainability initiatives on a global scale.

The future holds exciting prospects for both CSR and ESG efforts. Today’s trends and innovations suggest that both will play an increasingly important role in how companies approach business and engage communities. To learn more about the MS-ESM degree, please visit esm.georgetown.edu.