Student Profiles

An Integrated Approach to Sustainability
Celine Gaasrud was attracted to the opportunity to combine courses in different areas to explore and solve sustainability challenges. She intends to maintain an international perspective and work on implementing solutions to achieve sustainable development.

 

Engaging Sustainability Initiatives in Schools
Jordan Chan knows that professionals involved in sustainability are passionate about what they do, and she suggests reaching an informational interview. That’s actually how she landed a job at PepsiCo, where she is responsible for developing programs for colleges and universities to assist schools advance their sustainability goals.

Scaling-up Sustainability in NYC School Buildings
Joe Chavez is the deputy director of optimization and energy manager for the New York City Department of Education’s Division of School Facilities. In a little over a year, he has managed to double enrollment and participation in the department’s Demand Response program.

Motivating Sustainable Action on the Ground
Ajay Ranjith Vempati has a Chemical Engineering and Industrial Pollution control background, and worked in sustainability efforts in India early in his career. Ajay strongly believes the biggest challenge is effectively communicating sustainability advantages to senior management in order to motivate action on the ground.

Helping Brands Navigate Realistic Sustainable Goals
Kwesi Blair has more than ten years working in fashion and retail developing strategy. He is concerned by the fashion industry’s lack of awareness and action around sustainability. Kwesi was drawn to the MSSM program because of the range of academic content areas and the multidisciplinary approach.

Focusing on Ecosystems to Reduce Disaster Risks
Alia’a Harun was drawn to the program because of its interdisciplinary approach towards a pragmatic implementation of sustainability and believes the program has helped her communicate and think about environmental challenges in a more critical and holistic way.

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Architectural Background Provides the Right Foundation
William Abi Abdallah has spent the past four years trying to implement sustainability into building practices in Lebanon. William has been no stranger to the challenges that face sustainability professionals when it comes to driving change but believes that the courses he has taken as a student have been exceptional preparation for facing those challenges.

Curriculum is Currency for MS Student’s Career Aspirations
Chris Meissner started the program to make a career change from strategy and corporate development into water related issues. However, upon beginning the program, Chris realized that the complex nature of sustainability demands a multi-disciplinary practitioner.Chris is focusing on sustainable finance as a way “to create true progress in addressing sustainability issues.”

Student Streamlines National Recycling Programs
Jeremy Simpson was inspired to work in sustainability because he believes that it is the best way to make a positive impact globally. Now he is doing just that as an analyst at Recyclebank, a startup company that helps communities across the United States to improve their residential recycling programs by providing economic incentives to residents.

Student Aims for Career in ESG Measurement
Divya Bendre had just completed postgraduate work in Policy Studies and was working in management consulting in Singapore when she stumbled upon an article by Steve Cohen entitled “Educating Sustainability Professionals” that changed the trajectory of her career path.

Effective Communication Helps Lower Energy Use
Jocelyn Gan is a programs associate at Building Energy Exchange. In this role, Jocelyn manages the Daylight Hour social media campaign, an annual event that encourages offices to turn off the lights for one hour in day-lit spaces. The campaign raises awareness about using daylight to reduce energy consumption and improve the environmental performance of commercial space.

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Bringing a Passion for Nature to the Business World
Zach Bogoshian joined the program to implement lessons from nature to our current environmental challenges. In the program, this hopeful notion has manifested itself as a passion for creating innovative networks to connect people with sustainable solutions that don’t discount financial return.

Student Develops Passion for Energy Analysis
Laura Tajima works as an intern in the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, working with energy audit data from Local Law 87. In her position, she gets to apply a lot of the technical skills that she has acquired in her MSSM classes to record energy systems and energy usage.

Student Sows the Seeds for Career in Sustainable Agriculture
After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, Michele Aquino was drawn to the program because he saw the need for sustainable programming in development interventions. Upon graduating, Michele hopes to pursue a career in the food processing and consumer packaged goods space or exploring the field of clean energy.

Student Work Inspired by Waste Management
Agustina Besada was inspired to work in sustainability because of her interest in waste management. Agustina’s self-proclaimed “love for trash” eventually inspired her to co-found a consulting company that developed alternatives to reprocess waste that companies generate and turn it into a valuable resource in her native Argentina.

Student Advocates for Sustainable Fashion
Ruth Penniston joined the program with the intention of helping to bridge the gap between scientists and the rest of the world. Recently, Ruth began an internship at a sustainable fashion company, where she communicates her passion for the environment through advocating for sustainable fashion choices to the consumers.

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Preparing for Career as Corporate Sustainability Strategist
As a co-president of the Sustainability Management chapter of Net Impact and a board member of the Columbia Graduate Consulting Club, Ame Igharo plans to use the professionals skills she has gained in the program to transition into a career developing corporate sustainability strategies.

Student Explores Opportunities in Energy Efficiency
Lillian Cheng has long been interested in energy efficiency and climate change, but it is her time at Columbia that has instilled in her the necessary quantitative, financial, and project management skills necessary to succeed in the sustainability industry.

MS Student Takes Sustainability to the Skies
As head of sustainability for JetBlue Airways, Sophia Mendelsohn is responsible for reducing the environmental impact of one of the largest airlines in North America. The financial and scientific skills she has gained through the program provide her with a solid foundation upon which to base the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Student Sails into Sustainability
Martin Garcia Urtiaga first became interested in sustainability five years ago as a passenger on a transatlantic sailboat voyage. After living in a confined space with limited supplies for a prolonged period of time, Martin became interested in developing methods for more efficient use of earth’s natural resources. Martin went on to work for Starbucks, where he supported the Starbucks LEED Volume Build Certification program for the Latin America market.

Sustainability Management Student Makes the Most of University Experience
While working as the Project and Sustainability Planner for The Crane Resorts in her home country of Barbados, Lisa Howard realized that if she wanted to make a real difference in the sustainable built environment and tourism, she would need to have a more holistic understanding of the field.

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Passion for Climate Change Issues Propels M.S. Student’s Career
Megan Farrell works in the Sustainable Business Solutions division at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where she focuses on developing strategic solutions to best address the challenges facing her clients, including those related to social, environmental, and economic factors.

 Student Applies Sustainability Management Skills to CDP
Andrea Tenorio works at CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), where she manages a program that provides companies with access to environmental information so that they can build internal expertise with regard to managing climate change issues.

Student Enhances Energy Efficiency Work
As a “career-changer,” Laura Humphrey felt that she could not consider herself successful until her daily work reflected her core values. Currently, Laura works as a Senior Associate at ICF International in the Energy Efficiency division. Laura believes that her graduate studies have informed her work at ICF because of the team-oriented nature of many projects she has worked on as a student in the MSSM program.

Student Earns Recognition as Corporate Social Responsibility Leader
Pamela Alabaster joined the program after a corporate sustainability appointment at L’Oréal USA with the express purpose of honing her skills in the corporate social responsibility field. Through meaningful lectures and applicable project-based coursework, Pamela has acquired the practical knowledge and understanding in the field and has been recognized by the industry for her innovative work in CSR. Currently, Pamela is the Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs for L’Oréal USA.

Student Inspired to Combat Climate Change
Emily Dawson credits her parents and undergraduate studies at Middlebury College with instilling an interest in sustainability and sense of urgency for our warming planet. As a student in the program, Emily hopes to gain the practical skills and managerial training necessary to launch a career in climate science.