Rachele Haber-Thomson (MBA '12)
Co-Founder, Blue Dot
Could you please tell us what you do, and how sustainability intersects with your day to day responsibilities?I am a co-founder of Blue Dot, a sustainable products company. Our mission is to create a positive impact with every piece of branded merchandise purchased. Sustainability is embedded in everything we do - from sourcing our products with the highest ethical standards, to how we work with our clients to align their values with the products they buy. Day-to-day, this means vetting suppliers - from asking questions around their environmental sustainability and understanding what they are doing along the supply chain, to figuring out how to measure very difficult to measure impacts, to working with our clients on how to integrate and market our offerings so that they can move their own sustainability agendas forward.
Education. Our sector made its money on fast and cheap, and unfortunately, that also means lots of plastic and lots of things getting thrown away. We are working to change the mindset of promo products - to not just be cheap giveaways, but to be beautiful items, made sustainably and ethically, that consumers will love and keep for a long time. These better products and longer lifecycles mean stronger customer loyalty - which is what our clients' objectives are!
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that your sector faces with respect to sustainability?
There are more and more opportunities out there now. Explore what specifically resonates with you and your passion. Get experience through in-semester internships. Learn the jargon, but also make sure you have the hard skills that employers expect a traditional MBA student to have.
What advice do you have for Stern students interested in embarking on careers related to sustainability?
How do you recommend students use their time at Stern to be better prepared for a career in sustainability? Are there any events, books, courses, podcasts, or other resources that you recommend to understand the various themes and career options in sustainability? Any networking and job searching tips?To get a job in a non-traditional MBA industry, there is a lot more independent research and networking that you have to do - corporate presentations are not served to you every lunchtime and evening. Recruiters don’t come on campus. It takes dedication and can be daunting to pursue a career outside the popular tracks. Luckily there are other really smart students, faculty, and a career center, that are with you along the journey. Get to know them, hold each other accountable, join the clubs (SEA, Green Energy Club, etc), that help you get the knowledge you need. Go to conferences like Net Impact to learn more about the different jobs and micro-sectors within sustainability. Learn how to network in a smart way. Learn the hard skills you’ll need to do the functional job. The one don’t - don’t give up and get distracted. If you are clear about what you want to do, you will find it. It might take a bit longer and the road might be a bit more windier, but it’s worth it when you get there.
Starting a business with the right business partner with complementary skill sets, backgrounds, and a problem that we were both passionate about finding a solution to.
What is your proudest career accomplishment?
Are there any final comments or anything else you would like to share?There is a tremendous need for smart, driven, and talented people who are passionate about sustainability. There are also a lot of people interested in these jobs. Get the internships, do the networking, learn the industry you want to be in, and follow your passion.
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